Margaret I. Adams became the first deputy sheriff in the United States when she joined the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department in 1912. By this time, it was not unprecedented for Los Angeles women to pioneer in law enforcement. Four years earlier, in 1909, Alice Stebbins Wells, became the nation's first female police officer after joining the Los Angeles Police Department.
Adams was sister-in-law to Los Angeles County Sheriff William Hammel (Sheriff 1899-1902, 1907-1914, and LAPD Chief 1904-1905). Adams decided to become a deputy after separating from her husband and finding that she needed to support her two children. Her brother-in-law offered her a job in his department but she agreed to accept the offer only if she were deputized. She took her oath and received her badge on February 16, 1912.
Deputy Adams at work (on the left).
Towards the end of her 35-year career as a deputy sheriff, Adams held an important position as coordinator of all evidence processed through the Los Angeles Courthouse. She retired in 1947. She passed away in 1974, a mere six months short of her 100th birthday. She was buried, wearing her Sheriff's badge, at Inglewood Park Cemetery in Inglewood.