Thursday, February 15, 2018

Ellen Libby Eastman (1891-1986)

As we enter the tax season we are featuring Ellen (Libby) Eastman who was from Kezar Falls and who was the first woman in Maine to become a Certified Public Accountant.
How can you not love this picture of
Ellen (Libby) Eastman as a young women
with her big smile -unusual in formal
photographs of the time when the subject
was expected to present a more
somber image.
Ellen Holden (Libby) Eastman was born in Porter, Maine October 30, 1891, the daughter of Walter and Arvilla (Walker) Libby.  She attended local schools, was an excellent student and excelled in mathematics.  She attended 1 ½ years at Bates College in Lewiston and taught school for 2 years.
Her next job was with the forward looking Sokokis Lumber Company at Kezar Falls founded by Merrill Lord, Harvey Granville and Frank Fenderson.  That became the most formative 5 years of her life.  Lord, Granville and Fenderson were men of prominence and accomplishment and became her mentors.  They quickly realized her potential for learning and gave her more managerial responsibilities in the office.  She also began reading for the law in the offices of Lord and Fenderson.

With the help of Harvey Granville, Ellen secured contract work with various area businesses for public accounting.  She studied for the CPA exam at night and in 1918 she was the first woman in Maine to become a Certified Public Accountant.  Next she became Town Auditor for Sanford - which at the time was one of Maine’s most important manufacturing cities.  Miss Libby went on to become the first woman to establish an accounting practice in New England focusing on state and federal income taxes.

In 1922 she married Harland Eastman of Springvale. 
Ellen (Libby) Eastman soon came to be recognized as an authority on income taxation and began to appear before the U.S. Treasury Department and the U.S. Board of Tax Appeals as an advocate for, or representative of, various concerns and individuals seeking tax reform and was elected representative of the American Society of Certified Public Accountants. 
She helped found the first state wide professional women’s organization – The Maine Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs in Portland, Maine in 1921.  By 1925 the Maine Federation became a member of the National Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs and hosted the National Federation’s convention.  She became president of the Maine Federation in 1927. 
About that same time Ellen became acquainted with Margaret Chase of Skowhegan (who later became U.S. Senator from Maine).  Together, working through the Federation, they actively lobbied the state legislature for laws relating to tax reform, the fair treatment of women in the workplace and improved educational opportunities for women seeking a place in the business world. 
Ellen (Libby) Eastman was named the “Pre-eminent Business Woman of Maine” in 1928 and was among the most popular and best loved women in the State of Maine and a role model par excellence for the state’s young women. 
In 1957 Ellen came to Porter to deliver the Historical Address for Porter’s Sesquicentennial.  She always remained in touch with her home town and was a member of the Parsonsfield-Porter Historical Society.  She passed away in 1986 and is buried at the Kezar Falls Burial Ground.

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