- Maurer School of Law Academy of Law Alumni Fellows
In 1892, when few women ventured from the traditional confines of domestic life, 20-year-old Tamar Althouse Scholz received her LLB degree, becoming the first woman graduate of the Law School.
Scholz was born in New Harmony, Indiana, in 1872. She graduated from high school at 17 and came to Indiana University to study law. Together with 16 men, she graduated in 1892. Scholz was admitted to the bar in 1893 at the age of 21. She accepted a position in the law office of J. E. Williamson in Evansville and became the first woman to practice in Vanderburg County. Although she continued her law practice in Evansville for many years, for 12 years she also served as court reporter for Vanderburg County, beginning in 1903. In 1911, Scholz served on the staff of the State Speaker of the House, Al Venaman, and in 1924, she was connected with the Indiana Public Service Commission on special duty.
Scholz sought a legal education during a time when women rarely were so bold. Coeducation, although begun in 1833 with the founding of Oberlin, was still an experiment when she was born. By 1870, only eight state universities, including Indiana, accepted women students. Through the end of the 19th century, so few women attended college, that most found it a lonely and isolating experience. As the first woman graduate of the Law School, Tamar Althouse Scholz was a pioneer in legal education. Both as a student and practicing attorney, she blazed new trails for the cause of professional women in Indiana.
Scholz's passion for women's rights issues was first evidenced in a piece she wrote for the Indiana Student while in law school, and the insights she had then influenced her activities throughout her life. Finding her career as Evansville's only woman attorney solitary, Scholz sought out women colleagues in businesses and professions in the city In 1914, Scholz was one of the founding directors of the Women's Rotary in Evansville, the first Women's Rotary in the nation. In her words, it was established to "inspire a greater spirit of co-operation and inculcate broader and more vigorous business views among those women who are engaged in independent business or professions." There were 13 members in this new group. By 1916, the group was 50 strong and Scholz was president of the organization, an office she held twice. In early 1919, Scholz was asked by Indianapolis business women to come to that city to assist them in organizing a Women's Rotary Women's Rotaries established all over the country during the next few decades obtained their charter and were founded on the principles of the Evansville club. Scholz, through her work with the Women's Rotary became active with the Indiana Federation of Business and Professional Women's Clubs and served as the national vice president of that organization.
In the mid-1920s, Scholz retired from the practice of law to devote time to the care of her husband, a prominent Evansville businessman who became paralyzed and needed full-time care. Although her activities were reduced, she remained involved in her professional work through the mid-30s. In November 1936, four months after her husband, Tamar Althouse Scholz died at the age of 64.