Mary Bartelme

Mary Bartelme (1866-1954) grew up in what is now known as Chicago’s Fulton Market neighborhood but at the time was home to new immigrants like her parents. After graduating from a teachers’ college and teaching for six years, she enrolled in law school at Northwestern University. At first, Bartelme focused on probate and real estate law but then she shifted her attention to juvenile justice. Bartelme became the first female Public Guardian of Cook County and then went on to become assistant judge (the first female judge in America) to Judge Merritt W. Pinckney who presided over a growing number of juvenile court cases. She later was elected as a Cook County Circuit Court judge, another female first.

Bartelme set new standards for treating wayward girls. Unable to bear the thought of seeing them placed behind bars in a cold jail cell, she established homes (known as Mary’s Clubs) where the girls could be helped, encouraged and corrected. Over 2,600 girls passed through these group homes in a span of ten years. Bartelme was also active in the women’s suffrage movement and with promoting women’s rights.

Why this stop? The Cicero Blue Line stop is not far from one of the Mary’s Club houses.

Women's L Projection Connection - In 1899, Bartelme, Lucy Flower and other reformers lobbied for and established the first juvenile court in Chicago.