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24" x 30"

Oils on Canvas



When Lola Baldwin (1860-1957) took the police oath in 1908, the 48-year-old came from a much different background than most rookies. She’d spent decades volunteering at institutions and serving on boards for troubled girls and unwed mothers. And Baldwin – the first female fulltime paid law enforcement officer in the U.S. – brought these concerns into her new job. She acquired funding for her salary by convincing Portland Mayor Harry Lane that surely the wayward girls she worked with were worth half of the $6,000 he’d just allocated for the city dog pound.

As a detective, Baldwin led the Portland Police Department Women’s Protective Division from 1908 to 1922. Her accomplishments include getting federal funding for a women’s VD clinic, helping create the Hillcrest Oregon Industrial School for Girls, investigating cases involving interstate prostitution and advising the Portland vice commission. She was the west coast vice control supervisor during World War I, tamping down vice near military facilities. Throughout her career, she favored crime prevention and reform over imprisonment. She advocated for women until her death at the age of 97.

Since Lola mostly worked undercover, she conceals her pistol in her lap and hides her badge beneath her hand in this portrait. The colorful butterflies circling her represent the prostitutes and other financially desperate women that Lola provided with housing, jobs and hope. 

Lola Baldwin

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