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Jane Bolin is the first African-American female judge. She was also the first black woman to receive a law degree from Yale; the first black woman to work with the New York City Corporation Counsel’s office; and the first black woman to be admitted to the Bar Association of New York City.
See the fact file below for more information on the Jane Bolin or alternatively, you can download our 21-page Jane Bolin worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
Early Life and Education
- Jane Bolin was born on April 11, 1908 in Poughkeepsie, New York.
- She was born to Gaius C. Bolin, a lawyer, and Matilda Ingram Emery, an immigrant from the British Isles.
- She was the youngest of four children.
- Her mother died when she was eight years old.
- Her father was the first black graduate of Williams College.
- Her father was also the first black president of the Dutchess County Bar Association.
- Bolin attended high school in Poughkeepsie then college at Wellesley College, Massachusetts.
- Bolin was one of only two black freshmen in her year and she felt social rejection from her white peers.
- When she graduated from college with honors in 1928, she was in the top 20 of her year.
- Bolin entered Yale Law School as the only black student and one of only three women.
- She received her law degree in 1931 and was the first black woman to graduate from Yale Law School.
- In 1932, she passed the New York state bar examination.
Career and Contributions
- Her first job was in Poughkeepsie where she practiced law with her father.
- In 1933, she married attorney Ralph E. Mizelle.
- She practiced law with Mizelle in New York City.
- Shortly thereafter, she accepted a job as Assistant Corporation Counsel at the New York City Corporation Counsel.
- Bolin was assigned to the Domestic Relations Court.
- She represented petitioners who could not afford their own lawyer.
- In 1941, she gave birth to her son, Yorke Bolin Mizelle.
- Ralph Mizelle died in 1943 and Bolin later on remarried minister Walter P. Offutt, Jr. in 1950.
- In 1936, Bolin ran as a Republican candidate for the New York State Assembly and lost.
- Her unsuccessful run was just the start in building her reputation in New York politics.
- At 31 years old, Bolin was appointed by New York City Mayor Fiorello La Guardia to be a judge of the Domestic Relations Court.
- At the New York World’s Fair on July 22, 1939, Bolin received her appointment.
- For twenty years, she was the only black woman judge in the United States.
- In 1962, the Domestic Relations Court was renamed Family Court.
- Her appointment was renewed three times and she was a judge of the court for 40 years.
- As a Family Court judge, she engaged in cases related to New York families.
- She handled social cases of battered wives, paternity suits, mistreated children, and juvenile homicides.
- During her time as judge, she made two major policy changes: that probation officers would be assigned to cases regardless of race or religion, and that public and private child care agencies are required to accept children regardless of ethnic background.
- Bolin also worked with first lady Eleanor Roosevelt in giving support for the Wiltwyck School, a comprehensive program with the goal to aid in ending juvenile crime among young men.
- She was forced to retire at 70 years old because that was the mandatory retirement age.
- Her second husband died in 1974 due to lymphoma.
- Following her retirement, she volunteered in New York City public schools for two years as a reading instructor.
- She also began to serve on the New York State University Board of Regents.
- She received honorary degrees from Williams College, Hampton University, Tuskegee Institute, Morgan State University, and Western College for Women.
- Bolin was a member of the Harlem Lawyers Association.
- She was a legal advisor to the National Council of Negro Women.
- She was also a big advocate for children’s rights and education.
- She was a board member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the National Urban League, and the Child Welfare League.
- She was also devoted to community work, particularly in the Scholarship and Service Fund for Negro Students, the Committee against Discrimination in Housing, Committee on Children of New York City, and the Urban League of Greater New York.
Death and Legacy
- Bolin died at age 98 on January 8, 1907 in Queens, New York.
- She and her father are featured in a mural at the Dutchess County Courthouse in Poughkeepsie, New York.
- The administration building in Poughkeepsie City School District is named after her.
- Judges Judith Kaye and Constance Baker Motley referred to Bolin as a source of inspiration.
- In 2007, former US Representative Charles Rangel paid tribute to Bolin on the floor of the US House of Representatives.
Jane Bolin Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about Jane Bolin across 21 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Jane Bolin worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about Jane Bolin who is the first African-American female judge. She was also the first black woman to receive a law degree from Yale; the first black woman to work with the New York City Corporation Counsel’s office; and the first black woman to be admitted to the Bar Association of New York City.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Jane Bolin Facts
- On Her Way
- Important Events
- Judge Jane
- Choose to Complete
- Active Advocate
- Poughkeepsie Itinerary
- Jane Mural
- Making History
- Policy Change
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Link will appear as Jane Bolin Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, January 9, 2019
Use With Any Curriculum
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