Answer: Florence Ellinwood Allen
Born in Ohio in 1884, Florence Allen studied music in Germany for two years and originally planned to become a concert pianist. After returning to Ohio, she developed a profound interest in politics and the law. She earned a master’s in political science before earning a law degree from New York University. Despite finishing second in her class, she didn’t receive any offers from prominent New York legal firms. She returned to Ohio instead to practice law and became an assistant prosecutor for Cuyahoga County, which includes Cleveland. She became the first woman elected to a judicial office in the country when she was elected to a court of common pleas in 1920. She tried nearly 900 cases in two years, including the death penalty case of gangster Frank Motto. She was elected to the Ohio Supreme Court in 1922 and won re-election in 1928. President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed her to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in 1934, another first for a woman. She served the court for 25 years and was named chief judge. Long considered to be in line for vacant Supreme Court seats, she was always passed over for male jurists. She passed away at the age of 82 in 1966. The Supreme Court wouldn’t seat its first woman until Sandra Day O’Connor in 1981.