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Margolin, Bessielocked

(24 February 1909–19 June 1996)
  • Marlene Trestman

Extract

Margolin, Bessie (24 February 1909–19 June 1996), federal government attorney, Supreme Court advocate, and feminist, was born in the Brownsville neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York, the second (and first American-born) child of Russian Jewish immigrants Harry Margolin, a carpenter and peddler, and Rebecca Goldschmidt. The Margolins soon moved to Memphis, Tennessee, where Rebecca died a year after giving birth to her third child. A poor widower, Harry sent Bessie and her siblings to the Jewish Orphans Home in New Orleans. There Margolin lived for twelve years, flourishing under the home’s regimen of self-government and rigorous secular education at the Isidore Newman School, which the home founded for its wards and for children from the broader community. In 1925 sixteen-year-old Margolin, an adept writer and debater, delivered Newman’s commencement address and won a scholarship to attend Newcomb College, Tulane University’s coordinate college for women....

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