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One of two First Assemblywomen for the New York State Legislature

Mary Lilly - 7th Assembly District, Manhattan

Mary Lilly


Lilly was a graduate of New York University School of Law, and 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. She was active in women's law clubs and Democratic clubs, and the editor of The Women's Law Journal and the Jornal of the Society for Aid of Mental Defectives. Lilly also worked with women prisoners on Blackwell Island.

While in the Assembly, Lilly introduced legislation providing for establishing paterinity of children born out-of-wedlock, sponsored legislation that would abolish the death penalty, and introduced legislation to protect children's rights. She was not reelected in 1920, and returned to her private law practive and community organizer role.

The following excerpt was published in "Assembly Biographies: Mary M. Lilly " New York Red Book. (1919): 158-9.

"Mrs. Mary M. Lilly, Democrat, represents Seventh Assembly District in the borough of Manhattan, city of New York. Mrs. Lilly has lived all her life in this district. She is a graduate of Hunter College and of the New York University. She was for a number of years a teacher and a supervising officer in the public schools of the city of New York.

She is a practicing lawyer, having been one of the first women admitted to the practice of law in the State of New York, and received the first scholarship given by the New York University to a woman. She was at the time of her election Recording Secretary of the City Federation of Women's Clubs. She is President of the Knickerbocker Civic League and Vice-President of the Society for the Aid of Mental Defectives. She is a member of the Catholic Big Sisters and of the New Yorkers Club, the Amsterdam Democratic Club, and all of the women's Democratic organizations of New York city.

Her law offices are at 1947 Broadway, New York. She is the first woman elected to an elective office of any kind by the city of New York and is serving her first term in the Legislature.

She is a widow; her son, Major J. Joseph Lilly, was at the time of her election the Trial Judge Advocate of Camp Dix, and had been serving in the United States Army from the beginning of the outbreak in Mexico."