December 18, 2018

New Website for Women Trailblazers in the Law Oral History Project

The Senior Lawyers Division is pleased to announce the launch of a new website for the Women Trailblazers in the Law Oral History Project (WTP). Stanford Law School's Robert Crown Law Library has created the new website, https://abawtp.law.stanford.edu, and has agreed to house the WTP oral history collection. 

The new 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. These women entered a male¬≠dominated profession between 1940 and the mid-1970s and achieved success despite often facing blatant sex discrimination. 

The WTP has captured 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. These women were chosen for their accomplishments and contributions across all areas of the legal profession: the judiciary, academia, law firms, government, corporations, and public interest organizations. The WTP collection includes oral history transcripts, audio recordings, videos, photos, and other materials. 

Linda Ferren, WTP Project Director and Executive Director of the Historical Society of the District of Columbia Circuit, and Brooksley Born, Chair of the Senior Lawyers Division WTP Committee and retired partner at Arnold & Porter, initiated the WTP under the auspices of the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession in 2004. The Senior Lawyers Division has sponsored the WTP since 2008. 

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." Brooksley Born added, "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." 

The new WTP website allows easy online access to the collection and will focus on long-term preservation of print and media WTP content and digitized audiocassettes. "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. 

The WTP is a collaborative research project of the ABA and the American Bar Foundation. "The ABF is honored to collaborate with the ABA and the Stanford Law Library in helping to disseminate the profoundly important research conducted by Brooksley Born and Linda Ferren," said ABF Executive Director Ajay K. Mehrotra. "It's a true honor to bring these oral histories to the attention of researchers and scholars throughout the world." 

In addition to the Robert Crown Law Library at Stanford, the Library of Congress and the Schlesinger Library at Harvard are repositories of the WTP oral history transcripts. 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.