Stanford Law School Launches the American Bar Association’s Women Trailblazers in the Law Website

Women Trailblazers in Law Oral History Collection 1

Stanford Law School’s Robert Crown Law Library has launched a new site for the American Bar Association’s (ABA) oral history project entitled “Women Trailblazers in the Law” (WTP). The website offers open access to the oral histories of more than 100 senior women who have made important contributions to the law and have opened opportunities for other women in the profession.

In the last half-century or more, women in law have made huge strides, many of them making history by attending law school, sometimes as the only female in their class, and succeeding in the profession against the odds. Brooksley Born, JD ’64 (BA ’61), and Linda Ferren, WTP Project Director and Executive Director of the Historical Society of the District of Columbia Circuit, set out to capture the stories of these remarkable women when they initiated the WTP, a collaborative research project of the ABA and the American Bar Foundation, an independent, non-partisan, non-profit research institute for the study of law.

“By opening opportunities for women in the legal profession and in many cases using their skills to further women’s legal rights, these women made significant contributions to the equality of all women that must not be forgotten,” said Born, chair of the ABA Senior Lawyers Division WTP Committee, whose own story is included in the collection. Born was the first woman president of the Stanford Law Review and went on to have a successful legal career including serving as chairperson of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission from 1996 to 1999.

According to Linda Ferren, “Our goal from the start was to turn a spotlight on women who, because of their gender, had to struggle to secure a foothold in the legal community just a few decades ago.”

“We are thrilled to partner with the ABA to capture the oral histories of women pioneers in the legal profession,” said M. Elizabeth Magill, Richard E. Lang Professor of Law and Dean. “It is truly an honor for Stanford Law to preserve this priceless collection and provide access to these rich and inspiring stories of women, in their own voices, who overcame barriers in a male-dominated profession and advanced the interests of all women.”

WTP captures the full-life oral histories of women pioneers in the legal profession nationwide, memorializing their stories in their own voices and preserving their experiences and observations for future generations. In addition to Born, other Stanford Law alumni in WTP include Judge LaDoris Cordell, JD ’74, Mary Cranston, JD ’75 (BA ’70), Judge Shirley Hufstedler, JD ’49, Judge Fern Smith, JD ’75 (BA ’72), and Judge Miriam Wolff, JD ’40 (BA ’37). A book based on the collection, Stories from Trailblazing Women Lawyers: Lives in the Law, by Jill Norgren, was published last May by New York University Press.

The WTP collection is now housed at the Robert Crown Law Library at Stanford; two other WTP repositories are the Library of Congress and the Schlesinger Library at Harvard. The new WTP website allows easy online access to the collection and resources and will focus on long-term preservation of print and media WTP content and digitized audiocassettes. In addition, the oral histories have been added to the Stanford Digital Repository.

“The goal of the Stanford Law Library with this project has been to enhance public access to and discoverability of these important oral histories, not just for the benefit of law students and legal scholars, but also for anyone interested in the rich history of these trailblazing women,” said Beth Williams, senior director of the Robert Crown Law Library.

Click here for access to the WTP website: Learn more about Born, Hufstedler and Wolff from their profiles in Stanford Lawyer.

About Stanford Law School

Stanford Law School is one of the nation’s leading institutions for legal scholarship and education.  Its alumni are among the most influential decision makers in law, politics, business and high technology.  Faculty members argue before the Supreme Court, testify before Congress, produce outstanding legal scholarship and empirical analysis, and contribute regularly to the nation’s press as legal and policy experts. Stanford Law School has established a new model for legal education that provides rigorous interdisciplinary training, hands-on experience, global perspective and focus on public service, spearheading a movement for change.

About the Robert Crown Law Library

The Robert Crown Law Library at Stanford Law School is a friendly, comfortable, and well-equipped legal research library that supports the curriculum, programs and clinics of the law school.

The law library has a print collection of over 500,000 books along with millions of pages of online documents. The Robert Crown Law Library welcomes Stanford students, faculty, and staff to delve into its rich collection and turn to the Library’s service-oriented staff for help with their research needs.