By Harriet Rochlin
Blanche Colman was born in Deadwood, Dakota Territory in 1884, just eight years after rich gold strikes set off the rush that attracted some 18,000 seekers to the Black Hills, her father, Nathan, among them. If her birthplace brings to mind the profane, crime-polluted, greed-crazed Deadwood depicted in a recent televised series of the same name, forget it. Shortly after her father arrived, he became lay rabbi for the town’s Jewish population, and soon after, Deadwood’s longtime Justice of the Peace, affectionately dubbed “the Judge.” When Blanche graduated from high school in 1902, she took a job in the legal department of the Homestake Mining Company in nearby Lead. From clerk, she rose to stenographer, and then to legal assistant, all the while studying law on her own. On October, 3, 1911 she became the first woman to be admitted to the South Dakota State Bar. For much of her career, she was on the legal staff of the Homestake, described by historian Rodman Paul as "one of the greatest gold quartz mines in the world." Colman retired from the firm in 1950 and thereafter maintained a private practice. In 1961, she received an award naming her the first woman to practice law for fifty years in South Dakota. Throughout her long career, local newspapers awarded celebrity status to the town’s first female attorney. “Admitted to Practice. Miss Blanche Colman First Woman Lawyer in Hills“; “Girl Picks Job as Gold Mine Lawyer.” Blanche Colman To Be Honored by Bar Assn.” “Blanche Colman has made Deadwood her home for 90 years.”
Drawn from materials collected by her grand-nephew, Al Niederman.
Born in El Dorado, California, Elizabeth was supporting herself as a bookkeeper in San Francisco in 1895 when her brother-in-law, a physician, introduced her to the newly developing field of radiology. In less than a year, Elizabeth, who had never completed high school, had mastered the technique of radiophotography and opened the first X-ray laboratory in California. Located at 611 Sutter Street, the facility was soon regarded as the best-equipped radiology lab in the American West. During the Spanish American War (1898), injured American soldiers were brought from the Philippines to a hospital in San Francisco where some of the most severely wounded were X-rayed by Fleischmann. Wrote Peter Palmquist, photography historian, “Not only did she pioneer in a previously unknown occupation—X-ray photography—but in her [tragically brief] lifetime achieved worldwide recognition for her extraordinary skill and dedication to this life-saving science.” Fleischmann accomplished all this in one decade, working alone, in a period when most doors to the medical profession were stubbornly closed to women. In 1905, the San Francisco Chronicle reported her demise, as "Death of a Famous Radiophotographer." She was thirty-eight years old, and had been suffering for several years from radiation poisoning due to exposure to unshielded X-rays. The epitaph on her gravestone in the Salem Cemetery, a Jewish burial ground outside of San Francisco, reads, “I think I did some good in this world.”