“Reba” Hurn: Spokane’s First Female Lawyer

By Rae Anna Victor

Reba Hurn, pictured above in 1925. Photo courtesy of the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture.

On August 3, 2018, at 2:00p.m., a monument will be dedicated in Reba Hurn’s honor at the Greenwood Memorial Terrace by the Fairmount Memorial Association in cooperation with the Spokane Historical Monuments Committee, Spokane Regional Law Enforcement Museum, Jonas Babcock Chapter DAR, and The Westerners, Spokane Corral.

Reba taught school for two years in Spokane and Ritzville. Convinced that teaching was the only profession open to her, she went to Germany in 1907 for graduate studies at the University of Heidelberg. A year later, she met Nathan Straus who was in Germany to introduce his pasteurized milk distribution charity to reduce child mortality. Reba began volunteering for his charity, and in 1908, she assisted with the William Jennings Bryan Presidential campaign.

By 1910, she had returned to Spokane, and she became the first woman admitted to the Washington State Bar Association. In 1913, she was the only woman lawyer or elected official in the city or county of Spokane.

Reba was elected to the staunchly male senate office in 1922. Due to her voting record in the Senate and personal contact with constituents back home, she won a second term in 1926 without campaigning.

Reba continued to practice law in Spokane until 1946, and was honored by the American Bar Association for over a half-century of service. She then lived in the Middle East translating the Koran into English, and participated in “People to People” delegations. Her travels took her around the world.

Come to the dedication to honor Reba learn more about her life, and learn more about her in Logan Camporeale’s “Heroes & Scoundrels” column in the July/August 2018 issue of Nostalgia Magazine.

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