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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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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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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....

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Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher Seated right, with J. E. Fellows, dean of admissions at the University of Oklahoma, seated left, and, standing left to right, Thurgood Marshall and Amos T. Hall, 1948. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-84479).

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Fisher, Ada Lois Sipuel (08 February 1924–18 October 1995), civil rights pioneer, lawyer, and educator, was born in Chickasha, Oklahoma, the daughter of Travis B. Sipuel, a minister and later bishop of the Church of Christ in God, one of the largest black Pentecostal churches in the United States, and Martha Bell Smith, the child of a former slave. Her parents moved to Chickasaw, Oklahoma, shortly after the Tulsa race riot of 1921....

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Frelinghuysen, Theodore (28 March 1787–12 April 1862), lawyer, politician, and educator, was born in Franklin Township, Somerset County, New Jersey, into one of New Jersey’s most prominent families. His great-grandfather, Theodorus Jacobus Frelinghuysen, participated prominently in the eighteenth-century religious movement known as the “Great Awakening”; his father, Frederick Frelinghuysen, served as a captain of artillery at the battles of Trenton and Monmouth and later was a Federalist U.S. senator. His mother, Gertrude Schenck, died when he was a boy, and the chief feminine influences in young Theodore’s life were his stepmother, Ann Yard, and his paternal grandmother, Dinah Frelinghuysen, both women of strong Christian convictions. His education prepared him for the kind of leadership expected of his social class: the Reverend Robert Finley’s Academy at Basking Ridge, College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) class of 1804, and law study with ...

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Garfield, Harry Augustus (11 October 1863–12 December 1942), lawyer, educator, and public official, was born in Hiram, Ohio, the son of James A. Garfield, the twentieth president of the United States, and Lucretia Rudolph (Lucretia Rudolph Garfield). A witness to the fatal shooting of his father in 1881, Garfield grappled with the implications of that tragedy for the rest of his life. He earned a B.A. at Williams College, 1881–1885, and after teaching briefly at St. Paul’s, a private school for boys, he studied law at Columbia University, 1886–1887, and in England at Oxford University and the Inns of Court, 1887–1888. In the latter year he married Belle H. Mason; they had four children....

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Gillett, Emma Millinda (30 July 1852–23 January 1927), lawyer and educator, was born on a homestead in Princeton, Wisconsin, the daughter of Richard J. Gillett, a lawyer and justice of the peace, and Sarah Ann Barlow. After her father’s death in 1854, Gillett’s mother took her two daughters back to Girard, Pennsylvania, to be near her own family. Gillett graduated from Lake Erie Seminary in Painseville, Ohio, in 1870 and became a teacher. She taught for ten years but grew increasingly discontented with her situation. Describing herself as “tired, nervous and unhappy” in her work and dissatisfied with the “mere pittance” she earned, she resolved to leave teaching and to follow her long-held dream, the study of the law....

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Gould, James (05 December 1770–11 May 1838), lawyer and judge, was born in Branford, Connecticut, the son of William Gould, a doctor, and Mary Foote. As a boy he suffered from gout, which affected his eyesight. He was educated at home and then in local schools. In 1787 he entered Yale College, where he had to have books read to him. Despite his poor eyesight, Gould graduated first in his class and delivered the salutatory oration “On the Origin and Progress of History, and the Utility of Historic Knowledge,” for which he received the Noah Webster Prize. In college he was known as “a remarkably handsome young man of elegant figure and graceful manners” (Fisher, p. 17)....

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Richard T. Greener. Courtesy of the National Afro-American Museum.

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Greener, Richard Theodore (30 January 1844–02 May 1922), African-American educator, lawyer, and diplomat, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Richard Wesley Greener, a seaman who was wounded during the Mexican War while serving aboard the USS Princeton, and Mary Ann Le Brune. When he was nine, Greener and his parents moved to Boston but soon left for Cambridge, where he could attend “an unproscriptive school.” Greener’s father, as chief steward of the ...

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Hadley, Herbert Spencer (20 February 1872–01 December 1927), politician, lawyer, and educator, was born in Olathe, Kansas, the son of John Milton Hadley and Harriett Beach, farmers. He earned an A.B. in 1892 from the University of Kansas and an LL.B. in 1894 from Northwestern University. In 1901 he married Agnes Lee; they had three children....

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Hunt, Carleton (01 January 1836–14 August 1921), lawyer, educator, and congressman, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, the son of Thomas Hunt, a physician, and Aglae Carleton, the daughter of an associate justice of the Supreme Court of Louisiana. Hunt spent his early life in the stimulating surroundings of an upper-class family of professionals and academicians. He took his A.B. degree from Harvard in 1856 and then read law in the office of ...

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Hutchins, Harry Burns (08 April 1847–25 January 1930), lawyer and educator, was born in Lisbon, New Hampshire, the son of Carlton B. Hutchins and Nancy Walker Merrill. His parents’ occupations are unknown. After receiving his early education at seminaries in Tilton, New Hampshire, and Newbury, Vermont, he entered Wesleyan University in 1866 but had to drop out because of poor health. He spent the months following his unscheduled departure studying premedical subjects, dividing his time between the University of Vermont and Dartmouth College. Attracted to the University of Michigan by the presence on its faculty of several textbook authors whom he admired, Hutchins entered that university in the fall of 1867. Following a successful undergraduate career, including such honors as serving as class orator and commencement speaker, he graduated with a Ph.B. in 1871, becoming the first person to receive a degree from the university’s first president, ...

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Johnson, Edward Austin (23 November 1860–24 July 1944), educator, lawyer, and politician, was born near Raleigh, North Carolina, the son of Columbus Johnson and Eliza A. Smith, slaves. He was taught to read and write by Nancy Walton, a free African American, and later attended the Washington School, an establishment founded by philanthropic northerners in Raleigh. There he was introduced to the Congregational church and became a lifelong member. Johnson completed his education at Atlanta University in Georgia, graduating in 1883. To pay his way through college, he worked as a barber and taught in the summers. After graduation he worked as a teacher and principal, first in Atlanta at the Mitchell Street Public School (1883–1885) and then in Raleigh at the Washington School (1885–1891). While teaching in Raleigh he studied at Shaw University, obtaining a law degree in 1891. He joined the faculty shortly after graduation and became dean of the law school at Shaw two years later. He acquired a reputation as a highly capable lawyer, successfully arguing many cases before the North Carolina Supreme Court....

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Barbara Jordan. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-88189).

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Jordan, Barbara (21 February 1936–17 January 1996), lawyer, politician, and university professor, was born Barbara Charline Jordan in Houston, Texas, the daughter of Benjamin M. Jordan and Arlyne Patten Jordan. Her father, a graduate of the Tuskegee Institute, was a warehouse employee until 1949 when he became a minister at Houston's Good Hope Missionary Baptist Church, in which his father's family had long been active. Arlyne Jordan also became a frequent speaker at the church. The Jordans were always poor, and for many years Barbara and her two older sisters shared a bed, but their lives improved somewhat after their father became a minister. Barbara attended local segregated public schools and received good grades with little effort. She gave scant thought to her future, beyond forming a vague desire to become a pharmacist, until her senior year at Phillis Wheatley High School, when a black female lawyer spoke at the school's career day assembly. Already a proficient orator who had won several competitions, she decided to put that skill to use as an attorney....

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Kirchwey, George Washington (03 July 1855–03 March 1942), lawyer, criminologist, and professor, was born in Detroit, Michigan, the son of Michael Kirchwey, a livestock and wholesale meat dealer, and Maria Anna Lutz. His father had actively participated in the German revolution of 1848. Educated in various private and public schools in both Chicago and Albany, Kirchwey graduated in 1875 as class valedictorian and enrolled at Yale University. Four years later he received his B.A. with honors, and after studying at Yale Law School and later at Albany Law School, he was admitted to the state bar in New York in 1882. In 1883 he married Dora Child Wendell; they had four children. ...