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Marlene Trestman
Unaffiliated Independent Scholar (Baltimore, MD 21208-4309)

Summer Stipends
Research Programs

[Grant products][Media coverage]

$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2012 – 8/31/2012

Fair Labor: The Life and Work of Bessie Margolin (1909-1996)

I seek NEH funds to conduct research to complete the first biography of Bessie Margolin, who retired in 1972 as Associate Solicitor of Labor with a remarkable Supreme Court record--she won 25 of 28 cases she argued. Raised in a New Orleans Jewish orphanage with excellent educational opportunities, Margolin proved her yearbook photo caption, "Knowledge is Power." With law degrees from Tulane & Yale, Margolin's legal career encompassed three national historical events: defending the New Deal's TVA(1933); creating rules for Nazi War Crimes Subsequent Proceedings (1946); and designing national litigation strategy to enforce the Fair Labor Standards Act and Equal Pay Act (1939-1972). In the words of Chief Justice Earl Warren, Margolin "proved equality [for women] in a man's world." Tracing the ways in which she shaped and was shaped by American Society, Margolin's biography is as valuable to scholars in law, legal history, and women's legal history as it is to a general audience.