“I inherited my father’s passion for history. He would be excited about some piece of history he found, and he wanted me to know all the details. Especially if it has to do something with our family name.
I guess that is why sociology and history are the topics that I am always interested to explore. Early in my research I came across a woman, with the same last name as mine.
Marija Popovic was Serbian first female lawyer.
As I looked deeper, I found out that she was always helping poor people as a lawyer. She was also a well-respected teacher and a wife of famous Serbian Poet Sime Milutinovića Sarajlije.
I learned because of her dedication, she was respected by the men around her. It made me happy to realize she was given credit for her efforts. She is still mentioned in our newspapers as the first woman lawyer on our territory, but we unfortunately don’t know how she looked like. We just know how her husband looked.
Or at least that is what we mainly believed. To my greater surprise, I found out that the first woman lawyer wasn’t her!
It was Katarina Marinkovic Lengold. She was the first woman who got a lawyer degree in 1933. And practiced law in Serbia, even tough women didn’t have the right to vote until 1945.
Katarina was born in a respected family in Petrovaradin. She studied in Novi Sad, and Subotica and became the first female lawyer in 1933. This is her diploma.
At the time, women did not have the right to vote, but she was able to provide for herself and work as a lawyer who helped divorced women in our country because she was divorced. She fought for women’s rights during her career. She founded women movements across Vojvodina and spoke publicly about women’s issues, like all the famous feminists all around the world.
However, there is so little evidence of that. Just posters, and testimony of people who knew her. She died tragically in one of the biggest rail accidents ever, when she was travelling to Zagreb. Her work and her name should not be forgotten.
She should be an important part of collective memory for women of Petrovaradin and women from Vojvodina and Serbia. That is the reason why we should keep exploring our history, just like my father does.”
Author: Angelina Popović, content creator
This digital story has been realised within the European project “Stories Behind the Cities”, founded by Creative Europe Programme, European Commission.