Margaret "Maggie" Creswell

Marker is located on Northeast corner of Iowa and Atlantic Avenues.

Marker text:

In 1924, Mrs. Creswell, a longtime Atlantic City resident, became the first female Police Officer in both Atlantic City and the State of New Jersey. In 1927, she became a permanent member of the Police Department. Born in Greenville, South Carolina, she moved here in 1919, with her husband, Berned Creswell. Her law enforcement career began in 1921, as a Clerk in the Atlantic County Sheriff's Office. A dedicated Police Officer, she worked with female juveniles and rape victims. Privately, she collected food and clothing for the needy. Mrs. Creswell was active in many organizations including: Elks Ocean Temple Lodge, Police Benevolent Association, Northside Business & Professional Women's Club, United Sons & Daughters of the British West Indies and the local NAACP. In 1964, she retired from the Police Department after 40 years of service. To recognize her achievements, a grateful community hosted a party at the former 500 Club on Missouri Avenue.

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MCreswell Additional information: 

Although Maggie Creswell's position as a "lady cop" was seen as something of a novelty at the time, the officer who wore Badge No. 1 took her job very seriously. Creswell patrolled a beat in Atlantic City's Northside, and often used her work to help female victims of crime. She emphasized the importance of "woman's intuition" in her work, believing that while a female crime victim would feel ashamed to tell a man, even if he was a police officer, what had happened to her, that she would not feel this same sense of discomfort in recounting her story to a woman. For this reason, Creswell often stated that many more female cops - especially black ones - were needed.Through Creswell's work, more crimes were solved in the Northside, and many of the community's needs, which had previously gone ignored, could be brought to attention. Creswell also advocated for the establishment of a home for wayward girls within the city, and a colored hospital, which at the time did not exist.

In an early interview about her unusual position, Creswell stated that "[The police force] have a number of special women police, but I'm the only genuine female cop in New Jersey." This distinction, however, has caused confusion in recent years, as a review of the Police Department records has revealed that another woman, Maude Williams, was employed by the Atlantic City Police prior to Creswell. City Council issued a resolution recognizing Williams's service. As early as 1917, female officers patrolled Atlantic City, but these may have been seasonal appointments.

Detail from Undated picture of police officers and officials. (H009.BlackHistory012, Atlantic City Heritage Collections, Atlantic City Free Public Library)
For more information, see these resources in the Atlantic City Free Public Library, Atlantic City Heritage Collections:
Local History Biography File - Margaret Creswell
Atlantic City Press

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