History of Women in Investigations

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I was also a Pinkerton Detective.

Women in Security: History

Kate Warne: The First Female Detective

When Kate Warne walked into Allan Pinkerton’s Detective Agency in 1856, he thought she was interested in clerical work. When the childless widow said she wanted to be a detective, Pinkerton replied “It is not the custom to employ women detectives!”

But Warne didn’t leave, and after pointing out to the advantages a female detective would have in certain situations over men, Pinkerton hired her the next day.

Warne became one of Pinkerton’s best operatives. The night the Pinkertons protected Abraham Lincoln on his trip through Baltimore for his first inauguration, it was Warne who arranged the railcars, coordinated transportation, and provided disguises.

In 1860, Pinkerton had hired several more female detectives and called them his “Female Detective Bureau.”

Warne’s career, unfortunately, was cut short by illness. She passed away suddenly in January 1868, at age 35 with Pinkerton at her bedside. She’s buried in the Pinkerton Family Plot in Graceland Cemetery in Chicago, IL.

Upon her death, Pinkerton said “She succeeded far beyond my utmost expectations. Mrs. Warne never let me down!”

Web Sites

  • Find-A-Grave (View Kate Warne’s Grave)
  • Pinkerton History
  • “In his memoirs, Allan Pinkerton was to credit two specific agents – one female – for doing more in the early days than anyone else to establish the firm’s reputation for efficiency and honor. They were Timothy Webster and Kate Warne.” Quote from an article on Court TV’s Crime Library web site.

Other Resources

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