This Day in Black History: April 11, 1908

Jane M. Bolin

This Day in Black History: April 11, 1908

Jane M. Bolin, the first Black female judge, was born on April 11, 1908.

Published April 11, 2013

(Photo: Courtesy of the Library of Congress)

Jane M. Bolin broke color and gender lines as the first Black female judge in 1939. She was born on April 11, 1908, in Poughkeepsie, New York.

Her father was the first Black graduate of Williams College and owned his own legal practice, which influenced her to pursue a career in law.

She attended Wellesley College and graduated as a top 20 student and went on to attend Yale Law School. As a student, she overcame doubt and discrimination to be the first Black woman graduate of the school. 

Bolin later became the first Black woman to work in New York City's legal department. In 1939, the Mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia appointed her a family court judge the first Black female to accomplish this feat.

Bolin died on Jan. 8, 2007, at the age of 98 in Queens, New York.

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Written by Natelege Whaley


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