Friday, January 23, 2009

Friday Mieography

This one is going to be very short, because, sadly, I cannot find the dearth of information I usually find on the lady I want to parade in front of you. But I still wanted to put her out there.

This is Alice Stebbins Wells. She was born in 1873. She had been a minister in Kansas, but somehow, she ended up in Los Angeles. She was a social worker, and in 1910, she petitioned the Mayor and the City Council requesting that they pass an ordinance providing for a Los Angeles Policewoman. It passed, and she was appointed as the nation's first female to be designated 'policewoman' with arresting power.
There had been women employed as matrons" since 1890, these ladies were hired to care for female prisoners and worked in the prisons.

The day she was appointed as a police woman, Alice was given a telephone call box key, a book of rules, a first aid book, and a badge. Having a badge allowed the members of the police department to ride the trolley for free. When Alice tried it, the conductor accused her of 'misusing her husbands identity'. Because of this, they gave her a new badge, which presented her with another one that read "Policewoman's Badge Number One."
Her partner was one Officer Leo W. Marden whom had been appointed as the Department's first Juvenile officer. When she took her position with the LAPD, the following order was given.
"No young girl can be questioned by a male officer. Such work is delegated solely to policewoman, who, by their womanly sympathy and intuition are able to gain the confidence of their younger sisters."
Her first duties included the enforcement of laws concerning the dance halls, skating rinks penny arcades, movies and "other similar places of public recreation". She was also to take action against "Unwholesome billboard displays", missing person searches and giving out general information for women seeking advice on matters that fell within the police department scope. By 1912, after the position of policewoman was given over to Civil Service, there were three police women on the force, and three police matrons inside the department.
Alice's appointment had drawn the attention of the press and she promoted the need for female officers (with success) and also was instrumental in organizing the International Policewoman's Association. She was nominated it's president in 1928. She also persuaded UCLA to offer the first course specifically on the work of female police officers it was added to the school's Criminology Department in the summer of 1918.
In 1934 she was appointed as the Los Angeles Police Department Historian, a post she held until she retired, in 1940. She had been a police woman for 30 years. She died in 1957. There was a ten woman honor guard at her funeral.


Mimi said...

Very interesting

(doesn't derth mean lack of?)

holly said...


my mom would probably like this quite a lot. she's really into police stuff (worked as a dispatcher for years).

Mary said...

Very cool. I love how you come up with interesting women who I've never heard of.

sybil law said...

Mimi - dearth does mean a lack of...
But anyway, I really like this one the most of all the women. Never heard of her!