Contributed by Gilli Richman
Marguerite Rawalt was born on October 16, 1895, in Prairie City, Illinois. Rawalt attended the University of Texas for a year and she then taught high school math. She was a secretary to Texas Governor Pat Neff from 1921 to 1924. She then attended night school at George Washington University Law School and earned her law degree in 1933. After law school, she became an attorney in the office of the Chief Counsel at the Bureau of Internal Revenue (now known as the Internal Revenue Service or IRS). Rawalt lobbied in Congress on behalf of women’s rights. She served as president of the National Association of Women Lawyers and was eventually elected the first woman president of the Federal Bar Association in May 1943. She co-founded the National Organization for Women (NOW) and held the role of its legal counsel.
Marguerite Rawalt became involved with President Kennedy’s Commission on the Status of Women. She actively campaigned for the inclusion of Provision VII in the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which aimed to prohibit sex-based discrimination by employers. Rawalt reached out to members of organizations, like Business and Professional Women and Zonta International, urging them to support the passage of this provision. Later, in 1972, she founded the Marguerite Rawalt Legal Defense Fund, which focused on providing financial support for legal cases concerning women’s equality, particularly in the financial realm. After serving with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for thirty years, Rawalt retired from her position in 1965. She was an advocate for the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) and attended the International Women’s Year Conference in Mexico City in 1975.