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Alston, Melvin Ovenus (07 October 1911–30 December 1985), educator, was born in Norfolk, Virginia, the son of William Henry “Sonnie” Alston, a drayman, and Mary Elizabeth “Lizzie” Smith, a laundress. Of middle-class background in terms of an African-American family in the urban South in the 1920s, he grew up in a house that his family owned, free of any mortgage. After attending Norfolk’s segregated black public schools and graduating from Booker T. Washington High School, he graduated from Virginia State College (B.S., 1935), honored for his debating and for excellence in scholarship, and began teaching math at Booker T. Washington High School in 1935. Beginning in 1937 he served as president of the Norfolk Teachers Association, and he also held local leadership positions in the Young Men’s Christian Association and the First Calvary Baptist Church....

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Ames, James Barr (22 June 1846–08 January 1910), dean of Harvard Law School, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Samuel Tarbell Ames, a merchant, and Mary Hartwell Barr. Ames attended the Brimmer School and the Boston Latin School. He enrolled at Harvard College in 1863, receiving an A.B. in 1868. During the next two years he taught at a private school and toured Europe....

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Charles E. Bedaux. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-107447).

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Bedaux, Charles Eugene (10 October 1886–18 February 1944), scientific manager, entrepreneur, and fascist collaborator, was born in Charenton-le-Pont, France, a suburb of Paris, the son of Charles Emile Bedaux, a railroad engineer, and Marie Eulalie, a dressmaker. Bedaux spent his first twenty years on the streets of Paris, doing odd jobs and usually avoiding school. He attended the Lycée Louis LeGrand in Paris but did not receive a regular degree. In 1906 he left Paris to seek his fortune across the Atlantic. In the United States Bedaux worked as a dishwasher, an insurance salesman, and a sandhog with the crews building the Hudson River tunnels. He also had a stint at the New Jersey Worsted Mills in Hoboken. He became a naturalized citizen in 1908....

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Beer, Thomas (22 November 1888?–18 April 1940), writer, was born in Council Bluffs, Iowa, the son of William Collins Beer, a corporate attorney and lobbyist, and Martha Ann Alice Baldwin. Though born in western Iowa, Thomas Beer spent most of his childhood in Yonkers, New York, with summers in Nantucket and on his grandfather’s farm in Bucyrus, Ohio. Wealth and position from his father’s Wall Street business gave Beer a distinct sense of social superiority, which he manifested in personal relations and cultural criticisms. Despising the bourgeoisie, the working-class masses, and the chic lifestyles of the Jazz Age, Beer projected an image of extreme conservatism and tesselated sophistication. At Yale, class of 1911, he was class poet, lifelong friend of the actor Monty Wooley, editor of the literary review, and contributor of twenty stories, essays, and poems. After college he spent five years as a dilatory student in the Columbia law school and as clerk in his father’s law firm, but when his father died at his professional nadir in 1916, Beer turned to letters. His first important short story—“The Brothers”—was published a few months later in the ...

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Blackwell, Randolph Talmadge (10 March 1927–21 May 1981), attorney, educator, and civil rights activist, was born in Greensboro, North Carolina, the son of Joe Blackwell and Blanche Mary Donnell. He attended the city’s public schools for African-American youth and earned a B.S. in sociology from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical University in Greensboro in 1949. Four years later Blackwell earned a J.D. degree from Howard University in Washington, D.C. In December 1954 he married Elizabeth Knox. The couple had one child. After teaching economics for a year at Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical College in Normal, Alabama, near Huntsville, Blackwell became an associate professor of social sciences at Winston-Salem State Teachers College in North Carolina....

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Breaux, Joseph Arsenne (18 February 1838–23 July 1926), jurist and educator, was born at Bayou Goula in Iberville Parish, Louisiana, the son of John B. Breaux and Margaret Walsh, planters. After completing his undergraduate work at Georgetown College in Kentucky, Breaux studied law at the University of Louisiana (now Tulane) and graduated in 1859. Admitted to the Louisiana bar in 1860, he opened his law office in New Iberia. In 1861 Breaux married Eugenia Mille; they had no children....

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Burk, John Daly (1776?–?11 Apr. 1808), editor, historian, and dramatist, was born in Ireland, arriving in America at the age of twenty. His parents’ names are unknown. He was a student at Trinity College in Dublin, but he was dismissed for “deism and republicanism” and eventually forced to leave Ireland, presumably because of political difficulties. Legend has it that a woman named Miss Daly gave him her female attire to help him escape from the British, hence the use of Daly in his name....

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Cahn, Edmond Nathaniel (17 January 1906–09 August 1964), lawyer, law teacher, and legal philosopher, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, the son of Edgar Mayer Cahn, a prominent lawyer, and Minnie Sarah Cohen. He attended public schools and then Tulane University, from which he received a B.A. in 1925 and a J.D. in 1927....

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Michael H. Cardozo. Courtesy of Michael H. Cardozo V.

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Cardozo, Michael H. (15 September 1910–20 October 1996), lawyer, educator, and government adviser, was born Michael Hart Cardozo IV in New York City, the son of Ernest Abraham Cardozo, a lawyer, and Emily Rebecca Wolff Cardozo. He was a first cousin of United States Supreme Court Justice ...

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Cary, Mary Ann Camberton Shadd (09 October 1823–05 June 1893), African-American educator, journalist/editor, and lawyer, was born in Wilmington, Delaware, the daughter of Abraham Doras Shadd and Harriet Parnell. Although the eldest of thirteen children, Mary Ann Shadd grew up in comfortable economic circumstances. Little is known about her mother except that she was born in North Carolina in 1806 and was of mixed black and white heritage; whether she was born free or a slave is unknown. Shadd’s father was also of mixed-race heritage. His paternal grandfather, Jeremiah Schad, was a German soldier who had fought in the American Revolution and later married Elizabeth Jackson, a free black woman from Pennsylvania. Abraham Shadd had amassed his wealth as a shoemaker, and his property by the 1830s was valued at $5,000. He was a respected member of the free black community in Wilmington and in West Chester, Pennsylvania, where the family had moved sometime in the 1830s, and he served as a delegate to the American Anti-Slavery Society in 1835 and 1836....

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Clark, Charles Edward (19 December 1889–13 December 1963), lawyer, law professor, dean of Yale Law School, and federal appellate judge, was born in Woodbridge, Connecticut, the son of Samuel Clark, a successful dairy farmer, and Pauline Marquand. Clark kept farmer’s hours, believed in the redeeming virtue of hard work and candor, and accepted the conventional personal and family mores of New England Calvinism. His political opinions would change from New England Republicanism to New Deal Democracy, but his personal values remained a constant, rooted in many generations of Connecticut yeomanry....

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Couzins, Phoebe Wilson (08 September 1839?–06 December 1913), lawyer, suffragist, and lecturer, was born in St. Louis, Missouri, the daughter of John Edward Decker Couzins, a carpenter and builder, and Adaline Weston. Her parents were both politically active. Her father held the posts of chief of police of St. Louis and U.S. marshal for the Eastern District of Missouri. Her mother served as a nurse to the Western Sanitary Commission during the Civil War where she provided aid to wounded and sick soldiers. Both parents instilled in their daughter an activist spirit....

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Crandall, Prudence (03 September 1803–28 January 1890), abolitionist and teacher, was born in Hopkinton, Rhode Island, the daughter of Pardon Crandall, a Quaker farmer, and Esther Carpenter. When Crandall was ten her family moved to another farm in Canterbury, Connecticut. As a young woman she spent a few years (1825–1826, 1827–1830) at the New England Friends’ Boarding School in Providence and also taught school for a time in Plainfield, Connecticut....

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Cromwell, John Wesley (05 September 1846–14 April 1927), lawyer and historian, was born a slave in Portsmouth, Virginia, the son of Willis Hodges Cromwell, a ferry operator, and Elizabeth Carney. In 1851 Cromwell’s father purchased the family’s freedom and moved to West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where Cromwell entered the public schools. In 1856 he was admitted to the Preparatory Department of the Institute of Colored Youth. Graduating in 1864, he embarked on a teaching career. He taught in Columbia, Pennsylvania, and in 1865 opened a private school in Portsmouth, Virginia. Cromwell left teaching temporarily after an assault in which he was shot at and his school burned down. He returned to Philadelphia and was employed by the Baltimore Association for the Moral and Intellectual Improvement of Colored People. Then he served as an agent for the American Missionary Association and went back to Virginia. He became active in local politics, serving as a delegate to the first Republican convention in Richmond in 1867....

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Daly, Charles Patrick (31 October 1816–19 September 1899), jurist and author, was born in New York City, the son of Michael Daly, a carpenter and hotel manager, and Elizabeth (maiden name unknown). Daly attended a parochial school for a short time. Following the death of Daly’s mother, his father remarried, and after his father’s death, Daly was left in the care of his stepmother. At age thirteen he fled his home and settled briefly in Savannah, Georgia, working as an apprentice to a quillmaker. Within a year he left Savannah and went to sea for two years. Returning to New York City in 1832, he was apprenticed to a cabinetmaker. At night he educated himself through reading at the library of the Mechanic’s and Tradesman’s Society and participation in a literary society. In 1836 he exchanged the cabinetmaker’s apprenticeship for one in a law office. He passed the New York bar examination in 1839 and became a junior partner in the same firm....

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Danforth, Thomas ( November 1623–05 November 1699), magistrate of Massachusetts, was born in Framlingham, Suffolk County, England, and was baptized on 20 November 1623, the son of Nicholas Danforth and Elizabeth (maiden name unknown). His father, a prosperous yeoman who was known as a patron of Puritan divines, decided to emigrate to Massachusetts shortly after the death of his wife in 1634. Nicholas Danforth died in 1638, committing his two sons, Thomas and an elder brother Samuel, to the care of the Reverend ...

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Davis, Katharine Bement (15 January 1860–10 December 1935), social worker, prison reformer, and sex researcher, was born in Buffalo, New York, the daughter of Frances Bement and Oscar Bill Davis, a manager for the Bradstreet Company, precursor of Dun and Bradstreet, the credit rating firm. When her father suffered business reversals following the panic of 1873, Davis had to postpone plans for college and work as a public school teacher for ten years. She continued her studies independently and in 1890 entered Vassar College at the age of thirty, graduating two years later with honors....

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Donovan, James Britt (29 February 1916–19 January 1970), lawyer and educator, was born in the Bronx, New York, the son of John D. Donovan, a surgeon, and Hattie F. O’Connor, a piano teacher. Donovan received a B.A. in English from Fordham University in 1937. Throughout his schooling he pursued interests in journalism and writing, and upon graduation he persuaded his wealthy father to buy him a small newspaper, with the condition that he complete law school first. Donovan received an LL.B. from Harvard in 1940. He joined a law firm in New York City that represented several newspaper interests. Publishing and insurance law quickly became permanent interests. Donovan married Mary E. McKenna in 1941; the couple had four children....