Women and the Assembly
New York County
Mary Lilly was a
graduate of New York University School of Law. She was the first
woman to win a full scholarship in a competitive exam and the
first woman admitted to the practice of law in New York State.
Lilly was very active
in women's law clubs and Democratic clubs, and was the editor
of two journals: The Women's Law Journal and the Journal of
the Society for Aid of Mental Defectives. She also worked with
women prisoners on Blackwell Island.
Lilly accepted the
Democratic nomination for a seat in the New York State Assembly
and became one of the first women elected to the New York State
Legislature in 1917.
While in the Assembly,
Mary Lilly introduced legislation providing for establishing
paternity of children born out-of-wedlock. She sponsored legislation
that would abolish the death penalty. Extremely concerned with
the welfare of children, she introduced legislation to protect
their rights. Unfortunately, Mary Lilly was defeated in 1920.
She returned to her private law practice and continued her work
as a community leader and organizer.