On Delta Phi Epsilon’s Centennial, Happy 100th!

On March 17, 1917, on hundred years ago today, five coeds at Washington Square College Law, a Division of New York University, founded Delta Phi Epsilon. The DIMES, as they are referred to, are Dorothy Cohen Schwartzman, Ida Bienstock Landau, Minna Goldsmith Mahler, Eva Effron Robin, and Sylvia Steierman Cohn. Delta Phi Epsilon was formally incorporated under New York State law on March 17, 1922.

That these five women were law students back in the day before women could vote in a federal election is impressive. Today, one must have a bachelor’s degree to apply to law school. In 1917, this was not the case. While the American Bar Association was formed in 1878, the first two women to join the organization did so a year after Delta Phi Epsilon was founded. In 1906, the Association of American Law Schools adopted a requirement that law be a three-year course of study.

Delta Phi Epsilon’s founders were between the ages of 17 and 19 when they formed the organization. I suspect they were working on an undergraduate degree in law, rather than what Delta Phi Epsilon members of today aspiring to be lawyers would do, spend additional years of study after obtaining a bachelor’s degree.

Ida Landau later in life

Ida Landau later in life

In 1920, Ida Bienstock graduated and was admitted to the New York Bar. In 1921, she married an Austrian, Jacob Landau, who, in 1917, founded the Jewish Telegraph Agency in The Hague. Landau lost her citizenship and her right to practice law when she married a foreigner (men who married foreigners at this time did not forfeit American citizenship). This case attracted national attention and it led to the adoption of the Cable Act (or the Married Woman’s Act) on September 22, 1922, allowing women who marry foreigners to keep their United States citizenship.

Ida Bienstock Landau from the Centennial issue of The Triad

Ida Landau served as the assistant general manager of the Agency for many years. From 1942-51, she served as manager of the Overseas News Agency. She also served as a war correspondent. In 1943, she covered the Bermuda Refugee Conference. In 1945, she toured the liberated countries of Europe and reported on the plight of Jewish refugees. In 1950, she organized the Transworld Features Syndicate.

The Landau’s son, Albert Einstein Landau, was born in 1933. He was named for his godfather, the esteemed scientist. 

© Fran Becque, www.fraternityhistory.com, 2017. All Rights Reserved. If  you enjoyed this post, please sign up for updates. Also follow me on twitter @GLOHistory and Pinterest www.pinterest.com/glohistory.

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