Jane Bolin, the first black woman in the United States to be appointed to a judgeship, was only thirty-one years old when Mayor Fiorello La Guardia chose her, in 1939, for a ten-year term on the Domestic Relations Court of the City of New York.
A Wellesley College graduate, Bolin was also the first black woman to receive a law degree from Yale University. She began her career as an attorney in her family's law firm in Poughkeepsie and, after her marriage in 1933 to Ralph E. Mizelle, practiced law with him under her maiden name. A Republican, Bolin ran unsuccessfully for a seat in the New York State Assembly in 1936. The following spring she was appointed to the Corporation Counsel's office in New York City. Two years later, at the New York World's Fair, La Guardia swore her in as a judge. Continue reading