AKA “Notorious RBG”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the second woman in history to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, was born in Brooklyn on this date in 1933. In 1954, she was one of nine women in a class of more than 500 at Harvard Law, before graduating at the top of her class at Columbia Law in 1959. […]

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Lillian Wald and the Henry Street Settlement

Lillian Wald co-founded what would become the Henry Street Settlement House (its original name was Nurses’ Settlement) on this date in 1893 — which was also her 26th birthday. Wald, the daughter of immigrants from Germany, enjoyed a relatively affluent upbringing and, after training as a nurse, became the greatest champion of public health services in […]

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The Rosenbergs Go On Trial

The trial of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg began on this date in 1951. Charged with conspiracy to commit atomic espionage on behalf of the Soviet Union, they would become the first civilians executed as spies in U.S. history — on June 19, 1953. Opposition to their sentence became an international cause, with Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert […]

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Stanley Sheinbaum and the Struggle for Human Rights

Peace activist and human rights advocate Stanley Sheinbaum was born in New York on this date in 1920. He began his work life as an economics teacher at Stanford University and Michigan, but quit teaching during the Vietnam War and made earning a living unnecessary by marrying into the Warner Brothers family and making savvy […]

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January 20: The ACLU

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) was founded on this date in 1920 by a committee that included Felix Frankfurter, who would become a Supreme Court justice nineteen years later, and Morris Ernst, who served as the organization’s general counsel for thirty years (1929-59). Ernst had, three years earlier, co-founded the National Civil Liberties Bureau, […]

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June 27: Helen Keller and the Jews

Helen Keller, the deaf and blind gentile woman who became an internationally admired figure after she gained language through her teacher, Anne Sullivan, was born in West Tuscumbia, Alabama, on this date in 1880. Keller was a socialist, a member of the IWW, an anti-war activist, a founder of the ACLU, and a birth-control and […]

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May 5: Planning for the Scopes Trial

A meeting of community leaders in Dayton, Tennessee, was held on this date in 1925 to plan a challenge to the state’s new Butler Act, which made it illegal to teach Darwin’s theory of evolution in a public school. The American Civil Liberties Union had advertised its willingness to give support to any teacher who […]

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February 22: Justice Frankfurter

Vienna-born Felix Frankfurter, a City College graduate who became, after Louis Brandeis and Benjamin Cardozo, the third Jew to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, died at 82 on this date in 1965. Frankfurter, a descendant of many generations of rabbis, was a graduate of Harvard Law and a founder of the American Civil LIberties […]

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