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Identifier: WH377

Scope and Contents

The Mary Florence Lathrop Papers span the years 1862-1977 with the bulk of the material from 1883-1895. The bulk of the papers document Lathrop's personal and professional life prior to obtaining her law degree at the University of Denver. Materials include diaries, event programs, correspondence, newspaper clippings, scrapbooks and articles written by Lathrop.

SERIES 1 PERSONAL, PROFESSIONAL 1862-1895, 1930, 1977 BOX 1

This series contains material related to Mary Florence Lathrop’s personal and professional life from 1862 to 1930. Materials include diaries, event programs, correspondence, newspaper clippings and articles written by Mary Lathrop. Many of the articles and newspaper clippings are about her involment in the temperance movement. A biography, Mary Florence Lathrop First Lady by Roanne Kuenzler, was published in 1977.


This series contains three scrapbooks comprising articles written by Mary Lathrop and event programs from 1876 to 1887.


  • 1862-1895, 1930, 1977

Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.


All requests for permission to publish, reproduce, or quote from material in the collection should be discussed with the appropriate librarian or archivist. Permission for publication may be given on behalf of the Denver Public Library as the owner of the physical item. It is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which also must be obtained by the customer. The Library does not assume any responsibility for infringement of copyright or publication rights of the manuscript held by the writer, heirs, donors, or executors. Reproduction restrictions are decided on a case-by-case basis.

Biographical / Historical

Mary Florence Lathrop was born on, December 10, 1865 to parents John and Anna Ball Campbell Lathrop in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She was educated in Philadelphia and became a newspaper and magazine reporter at the age of 19. Lathrop worked for the Philadelphia Press and McClure's magazine. She travelled all over the world and reported on labor disputes, politics, the Chinese race riots in California and the temperance movement. Her work with the temperance movement lead to her involvement in the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. Lathrop wrote articles and lectured throughout the West at conventions, churches and town meetings. In 1889, Lathrop moved to Colorado with her mother after Mary came down with pneumonia and tuberculosis. In Denver, she continued to work for the temperance movement and was involved with other women’s organizations such as the Women’s Home Missionary Society and the Colorado Business Women’s Club. Lathrop often spoke at the People’s Tabernacle Church (19th and Blake) and worked with youth at Grace Methodist Episcopal Church.

Lathrop decided to leave the frantic pace of journalism behind to pursue a law degree. She studied law at the University of Denver and received a Bachelor of Laws degree in 1896. After taking a course on probate law in Philadelphia, she opened her law office in the Equitable Building at 17th and Stout in downtown Denver in 1897. Her many "firsts" as a female lawyer include: first to open a law office in Colorado; first to practice before the Colorado Supreme Court, Colorado United States District Court, and the United States Court of Appeals; first to join the Colorado and Denver Bar Associations (1913), first to be admitted to the United States Supreme Court (1917), and first to serve as President of the Law Alumni Association at the University of Denver (1920-1921). In 1918, Mary Lathrop and Mary B. Grossman became the first two female members of the American Bar Association. Despite these firsts, Lathrop was not widely accepted in the courtroom and was referred to as “that damn woman” behind her back.

During World War II, she entertained soldiers from seven military installations in Denver by taking them to dinner at the Cosmopolitan Hotel. In 1947, the Veterans of Foreign Wars presented her with the Distinguished Citizenship Medal for entertaining 14,000 soldiers. Other honors she received include: “Woman of the Year” from the local chapter of the National Federation of Business and Professional Women (1940), an honorary doctorate in law from the University of Denver (1942), and the Founder’s Day Medal and Evans Award from the University of Denver (1951). She was active in the Denver Women’s Press Club, the International Law Association, American Society of International Law and the French Society of Advocates.

Lathrop lived at 522 East 18th Avenue in Denver. She continued to work in her law office at the Equitable Building until she suffered a heart attack and passed away on October 18, 1951. Lathrop is buried at North Cedar Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She was inducted into the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame in 1987.


2 box(es) (1 linear foot)

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchase, Fred Rosenstock,1977. Gift, Don Bloch, 1974, 1982.

In Progress
Jamie Seemiller
May 2018
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Denver Public Library, Western History and Genealogy Repository

10 W. 14th Ave. Pkwy
Denver CO 80204 United States