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Friday, June 5, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

Jim Kershner’s this day in history

From our archives, 100 years ago

The designers of the Spokane County Courthouse never imagined that women would serve on juries, so they didn’t include a restroom for women jurors.

Yet by 1915, women were serving on juries – and some were protesting vehemently about the facilities, or lack of them.

They sent a letter to a county commissioner, advising him that “the so-called restroom was more on the order of a hospital ward than a place where a woman could secure a moment of respite.”

That’s because it was, in fact, used as a hospital ward. The women jurors had to use a restroom that doubled as the office of the county physician, who used the room to perform surgeries and administer treatments. 

The restroom, the women said, was “permeated with various strangling odors of drugs.”

The room also served as a “special lunacy ward,” where mental patients were kept during their insanity hearings.

The letter was signed by four women who had just been sequestered for two nights in a criminal case. One of the women was the sister-in-law of former U.S. Sen. George Turner, which might explain why the commissioners immediately took steps to designate a new, more suitable restroom.

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