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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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Wahl, Rosalie (27 August 1924–22 July 2013), state supreme court justice, legal educator, and feminist, was born Sara Rosalie Erwin in Gordon, Kansas, the third of four children of Claude Erwin, an oil pipeline maintenance worker whose job often took him far from home, and Gertrude Patterson Erwin. Gertrude died suddenly in 1928, and the death divided the family. Rosalie and her younger brother, Billy, were sent to live with Gertrude’s parents, Harry and Effie Patterson, on a small farm near Birch Creek, Kansas, close to the Oklahoma border. Their two older sisters remained with their father....