Language of Materials
Conditions Governing Access
Conditions Governing Use
Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.
2.29 linear feet (5+1/2 file boxes) plus 11 oversize volumes, 1 folio+ photograph folder, 1 oversize photograph folder, 1 supersize photograph folder, 1 reel microfilm (M-73)
Matthews became the first woman to serve as a federal district judge when she received a recess appointment from President Truman as United States District Judge for the District of Columbia on October 21, 1949. She received a permanent appointment on April 7, 1950, and took senior judge status on March 1, 1968. In 1969 and 1970 she served in the United States Court of Customs and Patent Appeals and since 1970 has served on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Among the cases she has heard and considers the most noteworthy are Monroe v. United States (1956); Kyne v. Leedom (1958); United States v. Wise (1962); and United States v. McSurely (1972).
Judge Matthews was an active participant in the suffrage movement and has been a supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment since its inception in 1923. She has also served as counsel to the National Woman's Party and was active in drafting legislation to secure equal rights for women, including a law allowing women to serve on juries, laws eliminating preferences for males in inheritance, laws requiring equal pay for teachers regardless of sex, and, in 1931 and 1934, amendments to the nationality laws of the United States extending to women citizenship rights previously accorded only to men.
Active with many civic and professional organizations, including the American Bar Association, the Women's Bar Association, the Legal Research Committee of the Inter-American Commission of Women, the Bar Association of the District of Columbia, the National Association of Women Lawyers, the Women's City Club of Washington, and the National Woman's Party, Judge Matthews has received numerous awards and honors, among them honorary LL.D. degrees from National University Law School and American University. She has also served as an officer of the National Board of the Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania (now the Medical College of Pennsylvania) and as a member of the National Committee for Development of the American University.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The papers of Burnita Shelton Matthews were given to the Schlesinger Library by Burnita Shelton Matthews beginning in 1977.
- Box 1: Folders 12-27
- Box 2: Folders 28-54
- Box 3: Folders 55-72
- Box 4: Folders 73-82
- Box 5: Folders 83-92
- Box 6: Folders 93-111
By: Sheryl Kujawa,Eric Nils Lindquist
- Matthews, Burnita Shelton, 1894-1988. Papers of Burnita Shelton Matthews, 1926-1981: A Finding Aid
- Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
- EAD ID
Part of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute Repository
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