A Municipal Mother: Portland's Lola Greene Baldwin, America's First Policewoman
On April 1, 1908, Lola G. Baldwin, aged forty-eight, was sworn in "to perform Police Service" for the city of Portland, Oregon. She was the first woman hired by an American municipality to carry out regular enforcement duties.
In telling Lola Baldwin's story, Gloria Myers examines the social and cultural impulses that gave rise to the policewoman idea. The Progressive Era redefined the role of women in society; Baldwin's career benefited from the Progressive belief that women could ameliorate urban evil as they had earlier civilized the household. The need for the urban policewoman arose out of concern for the moral and physical welfare of families, single working women, and children living in the cities. Supported by socially active women's organizations and informed by the ideals of "social hygiene," the first policewoman led a crusade against urban vice, deviance, and corruption in the Rose City. Preventive policing strategies developed by "municipal mothers" like Baldwin aid and influence policing policies to this day.
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A Municipal Mother
Working Girls and Women Police
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