Jane Matilda Bolin, LL.B. was the first black woman to graduate from Yale Law School, the first to join the New York City Bar Association and the first to join the New York City Law Department.
Ambitious. Brilliant. Driven. And yet humble, generous, and kind. One of the most accomplished legal minds of her generation, and a breaker of glass ceilings throughout her life—today on Crime Capsule, as we continue our series on notable African-Americans in criminal and judicial history , we’re proud to introduce you to Jane Bolin of Poughkeepsie, New York.
One of four children, Bolin (1908-2007), was born into a family of trailblazers. According to Helen Engel and Marilynn Smiley in their book Remarkable Women in New York State History, Jane’s father, Gaius Bolin, an attorney in Poughkeepsie, had been the first African-American graduate of Williams College in Massachusetts.
Partly inspired by her father, young Jane excelled academically as she began to pursue her own career in the legal profession: not only did she graduate from Wellesley in the top twenty of her class, but the first glass ceiling she ever broke came at the age of twenty-three, when she became the first African-American to graduate from Yale University School of Law.