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Matthews, Burnita Sheltonlocked

(28 December 1894–25 April 1988)
  • Patricia Miller King

Extract

Matthews, Burnita Shelton (28 December 1894–25 April 1988), women's rights activist and the first woman federal trial judge, women’s rights activist and the first woman federal trial judge, was born in Copiah County, Mississippi, the daughter of Burnell Shelton, a plantation owner and county official, and Lora Drew Barlow. The only girl in a family of five children, Matthews aspired to follow her older brother to law school, but when her mother died when she was sixteen her father sent her to study piano and voice at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. He said he thought she would be “happier doing what women did down there in Mississippi.” For a few years she supported herself by teaching music in public schools in Texas, Georgia, and Mississippi, and in 1917 she married her high school sweetheart, Percy Ashley Matthews, now a Washington lawyer; the couple did not have children....

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