Jane Bolin

Quick Look At Bolin

Jane Bolin was an attorney and judge. She was known for being the first Black female judge in the United States.

Early Life and Education

Jane Bolin was born on April 11, 1908, in Poughkeepsie, New York. Her father, Gaius Bolin practiced law in Poughkeepsie and was the first Black person to graduate from Williams College. Her mother passed away when Bolin was a child. Throughout her education, she proved to be an excellent scholar. Bolin enrolled in Wellesley College, and despite the racial discrimination she faced, she graduated with honors and with her Bachelor's degree at just 20 years old. In 1931, she graduated from Yale Law School, becoming the first Black woman to ever graduate from there.


For a while, Bolin worked at her family''s law office, before marrying Ralph E. Mizelle in 1933. After her marriage, she moved to New York City, where she ran a campaign for a state assembly seat. She ran as a Republican and was unsuccessful in her campaign. Nevertheless, she was appointed to New York's assistant corporate counsel position. While Bolin worked in this position, she helped private employers learn and begin to hire people based on their qualifications, not their skin color. Her efforts helped many African Americans get jobs at law offices that otherwise wouldn't have. On July 22, 1939, Bolin was sworn in as a judge by the mayor of New York City. Yet again, she made history, this time by becoming the first Black female to be appointed a judge. She worked mainly as a judge for what we call Family Court today. As a Family Court judge, Bolin did away with many racist policies and worked with first lady Eleanor Roosevelt to end juvenile crime amongst young boys. In 1943, her husband died, and she raised her son alone for 7 years, before remarrying. Bolin served as a judge for New York City for 30 years, and at 70 years old, she retired. She did not want to retire, but she was required to after serving 3 ten-year terms. She died on January 8th, 2007 at 98 years old.

Jane Bolin broke racial barriers and contributed greatly to the betterment of America. She was brave and passionate, and an inspiration to many.