Mary Walsh Brennan (1886-1958) Mary Walsh born in Bennington, Vermont, the oldest of four daughter of Andrew Walsh and Elizabeth McCabe.
Mary Walsh Brennan graduated from the Sacred Heart Convent, Ottawa, and Pace Institute of Accounting. She attended Northeastern University, Boston University, and received her Law Degree from Portia Law School in 1921. Walsh married Dr. Joseph Thomas Louis Brennan 1918, Boston, Massachusetts. Dr. Brennan (1875-1926) opened a general practice in Lowell, unfortunately died in his early 50s, leaving Mary Walsh Brennan a widow at 40 years old.
Brennan was manager of the Bagshaw Mills, Warren Street the largest needle making company in the country for 20 years. Active in many local organizations, she was a prominent member and past President of the League of Catholic Women, the Business and professional Women’s Club, Quota Club, Lowell Bar Association, member of the Republican Party.
Sidebar From: Maine Law Review: “WOMEN IN THE LEGAL PROFESSION FROM THE 1920s TO THE 1970s: WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM THEIR EXPERIENCE ABOUT LAW AND SOCIAL CHANGE?”
….By 1920, when women were given the right to vote, all states admitted women to the bar. Numbers of elite law schools admitted women as well-among the first in the Northeast were New York University (NYU), Cornell, and Boston University in the late 1800s; Yale admitted women at the end of World War I, and Columbia by the late 1920s. But the largest numbers of women attended part-time law schools for women, often at night, such as Portia School of Law in Boston and Washington College of Law (WCL) in the District of Columbia; WCL had 271 students in 1929-30, and Portia twice as many. The top twelve law schools attended by women had eighty-four women students in 1920 and 370 in 1939…..
Mary Ellen Walsh Brennan was elected as the first woman to the Lowell City Council. According to the Lowell Sun November 7, 1935 “Mary Walsh Brennan, Attorney at Law, First Woman in History of Lowell to Obtain Seat in the Municipal Council ---- Mrs. Brennan is one of the most widely known women in the city, as a professional woman and member of numerous clubs has long been identified with various activities and she will enter the council in January well qualified to fill the position of councilor-at—large.
This is the first time in the history of Lowell’s civic affairs, that a woman has served in the council, and when interviewed today by the editor of the woman’s section of The Sun, Mrs. Brennan expressed herself as “highly delighted” at being selected by the people for this important post.”
Mary Walsh Brennan died in 1958 at Shaw Hospital, she was survived by her sister Mrs. Frank P. McCartin – matriarch of the large McCartin Family of Lowell (McCartin Electric).