BPD Update Online, Fall 2003
African American Pioneers: Edith Spurlock Sampson
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Edith Spurlock Sampson (1901-1979) was encouraged to consider law school while attending the New York School of Social Work. Sampson combined social work and law throughout her many endeavors. While working at the YMCA and the Illinois Children's Home and Society during the day, she earned her first law degree from John Marshall Law School at night in 1925 (Smith, 1993). She worked as a probation officer with the juvenile courts system in Chicago and assisted her husband with his law practice. She enrolled in the graduate program at Loyola School of Law and became the first African American woman to receive a masters in law in 1927. That same year she was appointed to the Illinois bar. In 1930 she was appointed attaché of the juvenile court in Chicago and adjudicated minor civil claims for the next ten years. Sampson went on to serve as a U. S. delegate to the United Nations from 1950 to 1953 where she was a strong advocate for underprivileged children.

Sampson was an energetic speaker, urging full citizenship for Black Americans. She was in great demand as a lecturer, traveling extensively throughout the Middle East, Scandinavia, Europe and South America. She was as active in public service in Chicago was she was in national activities, holding the offices of assistant corporation counsel, associate judge of the Municipal Court and judge of the Cook County Circuit Court. (Warren, 1993)

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BPD Update Online, Volume 25, No. 3, Fall 2003

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