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Raymond Pace Alexander At his desk in his law office, circa 1935-1940. Collections of the University of Pennsylvania Archives.

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Alexander, Raymond Pace (13 October 1898–24 November 1974), lawyer, judge, and civil rights leader, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the third son of Hillard Boone and Virginia Pace Alexander, both slaves in Virginia who were freed in 1865 and migrated to Philadelphia in 1880. His background was working-class poor and he grew up in Philadelphia's seventh ward, an all-black community made famous by W. E. B. Du Bois's seminal study ...

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Birney, James Gillespie (04 February 1792–18 November 1857), lawyer and reformer, was born near Danville, Kentucky, the son of James Birney and Martha Reed (both of Irish extraction), owners of a prosperous plantation worked by slave labor. When James was three, his mother died, leaving him and an infant sister to be raised by a widowed aunt who came from Ireland. His aunt’s opposition to slavery was one of the early influences on James’s thinking, although he became a slave master himself at age six when he was given a slave his own age, Michael, as a birthday present. Michael remained with him until Birney’s mid-life conversion to the abolitionist cause; he was then freed, given back wages for his years of service, and set up in a livery stable business. When James was seven his father and grandfather Reed both backed an unsuccessful attempt to write an emancipation clause into the state constitution....

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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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Boudinot, Elias Cornelius (01 August 1835–27 September 1890), Cherokee lawyer and progressive, was born in New Echota, Georgia, the son of Elias Boudinot, tribal leader and editor of the newspaper, the Cherokee Phoenix, and Harriet Gold, daughter of a prominent New England family. His mother died a year after his birth....

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Burlingham, Charles Culp (31 August 1858–06 June 1959), attorney, civic leader, and social and political reformer, was born in Plainfield, New Jersey, the son of the Reverend Aaron Hale Burlingham, a Baptist minister, and Emma Starr. Reverend Burlingham was a minister in New York City. C. C. B., as he was known by friends, lived in France for a time, after his father became minister of the American Chapel in Paris in 1863. In 1866 the family returned to the United States, and Charles’s father accepted a position as a pastor in St. Louis, Missouri, where Charles lived until he enrolled in Harvard University in 1875. He graduated in 1879 with an A.B. He then entered Columbia Law School, from which he received an LL.B. in 1881, the same year he was admitted to the New York bar. Two years later he married Louisa W. Lawrence; they had two sons and a daughter....

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Cohen, Felix Solomon (03 July 1907–19 October 1953), lawyer, was born in New York City, the son of Morris Cohen, an academic and philosopher, and Mary Ryshpan, a former teacher. Cohen attended Townsend Harris High School, which conducted a joint program with City College. After graduating magna cum laude from City College, he earned his M.A. in philosophy from Harvard in 1927. Cohen entered Columbia Law School in 1928, completed his Ph.D. comprehensive exams at Harvard and received his doctorate in 1929, and received his LL.B. from Columbia in 1931. That year he accepted a position as research assistant for a judge on the New York Supreme Court and married Lucy M. Kramer. They had two children....

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Coulter, Ernest Kent (14 November 1871–01 May 1952), reformer and lawyer, was born in Columbus, Ohio, the son of James Hervey Coulter and Emily J. Erwin. His parents’ exact occupations are not known, although a biographical listing shows his father as Dr. Coulter. After attending local schools, Coulter graduated from Ohio State University in 1893. He worked briefly as tri-state editor for the ...

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Crosby, Ernest Howard (04 November 1856–03 January 1907), attorney, social reformer, and writer, was born in New York City, the son of Howard Crosby and Margaret Evertson Givan. His father was the pastor of the prestigious Fourth Avenue Presbyterian Church from 1863 to 1891, chancellor of New York University, founder of the city’s Society for the Prevention of Crime, and a critic of the labor movement and single tax reform. Crosby was educated at Mohegan Lake School in Westchester County and at New York University, from which he graduated with first honors in his class of 1876. Two years later Crosby graduated with honors from Columbia University’s law school and was admitted to the bar. He practiced law for ten years and became a major in the National Guard. In 1881 Crosby married Fanny Kendall Schieffelin, the daughter of a wealthy New York importer. They became the parents of two children....

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Dargan, Edmund S. (15 April 1805–24 November 1879), legislator and judge, was born near Wadesboro, in Montgomery County, North Carolina, the son of a Baptist minister, whose given name is unknown, and a woman whose maiden name was Lilly. Dargan’s full middle name is listed in a number of sources as either Strother or Spawn. His father died when Dargan was very young. There was no adequate estate, and to earn a livelihood he became an agricultural laborer. Dargan was a self-educated young man who studied the law in typical nineteenth-century fashion, in the law office of a local practitioner in Wadesboro. After a year of study he was admitted in 1829 to the North Carolina bar. The following year he walked to Alabama, where he settled in Washington in Autauga County. He was admitted to the Alabama bar and served as a justice of the peace in Autauga County for a number of years....

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DeSilver, Albert (03 August 1888–07 December 1924), civil liberties leader and lawyer, was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Carll Harrison DeSilver, a stockbroker and art patron, and Mary Henrietta Block. He attended private schools in Brooklyn and Connecticut and was graduated in 1910 from Yale University, where he was a member of Skull and Bones and the editorial board of the ...

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Durham, John Stephens (18 July 1861–16 October 1919), diplomat, lawyer, and journalist, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Samuel Durham and Elizabeth Stephens. Two of his uncles, Clayton Durham and Jeremiah Durham, were noted clergymen who helped Bishop Richard Allen establish the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church. A mulatto, Durham studied in the Philadelphia public schools, graduating from the Institute for Colored Youth in 1876....

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Earle, Thomas ( April 1796–15 July 1849), lawyer and reformer, was born in Leicester, Massachusetts, the son of Pliny Earle, a manufacturer of machinery for textile factories, and Patience Buffum. Earle studied in the public schools and at the Leicester Academy. After he left school he worked briefly for a family business in nearby Worcester and in 1817 moved to Philadelphia. He worked as a commission merchant until 1824, when the company that he worked for failed. Earle then read law with ...

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Flexner, Bernard (24 February 1865–03 May 1945), lawyer, social welfare advocate, and Jewish community leader, was born in Louisville, Kentucky, the son of Morris (originally Moritz) Flexner and Esther Abraham. His parents, immigrants from Bohemia and the Rhineland, had settled in Louisville in the 1850s. Morris prospered as a hat merchant, but the panic of 1873 left his family of nine children impoverished. Bernard, who was the fifth child and fifth son, had two brothers who achieved eminence in American life. ...

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Gardiner, Robert Hallowell, III (09 September 1855–15 June 1924), lawyer, social gospeler, and Episcopal ecumenical leader, was born in Fort Tejon, California, the son of Major John William Tudor Gardiner and Anna Elizabeth West Hays. While Gardiner was a child, the family moved to Boston where his father, who suffered from crippling arthritis, was a recruiting officer for the Union armies. Sometime after 1865 the family moved to Montreal, Canada, where Gardiner attended high school. He took an extra year at the Roxbury Latin School from 1871 to 1872 and then distinguished himself at Harvard College. He was appointed Latin orator at his graduation in 1876. Throughout his life, Gardiner maintained a keen interest in languages and spoke French, modern Greek, Italian, German, and ecclesiastical Latin. In 1877 he spent a year as an assistant teacher at Roxbury Latin, where he taught French....

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Grimké, Archibald Henry (17 August 1849–25 February 1930), lawyer, diplomat, and protest leader, was born a slave on “Caneacres” plantation near Charleston, South Carolina, the son of Henry Grimké, a lawyer and planter, and Nancy Weston, the family’s slave nurse. His parents probably never married, but his mother assumed the Grimké name. Grimké had an extremely difficult early life. After years of virtual freedom—he had attended Charleston schools for free African Americans though technically a slave—he and his brother ...

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Harvey, Coin (16 August 1851–11 February 1936), economic reformer, lawyer, and real estate investor, was born William Hope Harvey in Buffalo, West Virginia, the son of Robert Trigg Harvey and Anna Maria Hope, farmers. After two years at a local academy, he entered Marshall College in nearby Huntington but remained there only a few months. He then began to study law on his own while supporting himself by teaching school. After being admitted to the West Virginia bar, he practiced law, first in Barboursville (1870–1874), then with his brother in Huntington for two years, then in Cleveland, Ohio. He married Anna R. Halliday in 1876; they had four children. In 1879 they moved to Chicago and two years later to Gallipolis, Ohio, where Harvey served as attorney for several wholesale firms....

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William Hastie. With an unidentified woman. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-94041).

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Hastie, William Henry (17 November 1904–14 April 1976), civil rights attorney, law school professor, and federal judge, was born in Knoxville, Tennessee, the son of Roberta Childs, a teacher, and William Henry Hastie, a clerk in the U.S. Pension Office (now the Veterans Administration). He was a superb student and athlete. His father’s transfer to Washington, D.C., in 1916 permitted Hastie to attend the nation’s best black secondary school, the Paul Laurence Dunbar High School, from which he graduated as valedictorian in 1921. He attended Amherst College, where he majored in mathematics and graduated in 1925, valedictorian, Phi Beta Kappa, and magna cum laude. After teaching for two years in Bordentown, New Jersey, he studied law at Harvard University, where one instructor adopted the custom of saying after asking a question of the class, “Mr. Hastie, give them the answer” (Ware, p. 30). He worked on the ...

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Norman Dorsen and Sarah Barringer Gordon

Hays, Arthur Garfield (12 December 1881–14 December 1954), lawyer and author, was born in Rochester, New York, to Isaac Hays and Laura Garson, both members of prosperous families in the clothing trade. When Hays was twelve the family moved to New York City, where, with brief exceptions he lived throughout his life....