Posts Tagged ‘history’

Senators Coons and Carper explain Delaware Day

December 15th, 2011 No comments

I didn’t see this until Delaware Day was over. Here’s a video of Delaware Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons explaining Delaware Day on the Senate floor. Delaware Day commemorates December 7, 1787, the day that Delaware became the first state to ratify the U.S. Constitution,

Supreme Court Photography

June 13th, 2011 No comments

courtThe United States Supreme Court does not allow photography during its sessions. Only two known photographers have been able to take photographs of the Court in session. Both did it by hiding their cameras.

The most famous of these photos was taken by Erich Salomon. In 1932 Fortune magazine hired Salomon, a German photographer, to make a photographic tour of America.  To get a photo of the Supreme Court he faked a broken arm and hid the camera in his sling.

Salomon had an interesting career as a photographer. He was a law student, receiving his law degree in 1913. He served in the German army in WWI, was captured and spent four years in a French POW camp. He tried a number of careers before he became a photographer, including running a car and motorcycle hire business where he offered to drive customers around on a motorcycle and give them legal advice at the same time. He eventually went to work for the Berliner Illustrirte Zeitung, a German newspaper, where he started his photography career by hiding a camera in his hat to take photos of a murder trial.

He eventually became famous for his photos of international conferences, specializing in capturing the rich and powerful in unguarded moments, often by hiding his camera or himself. Politicians joked that international conferences couldn’t start until Salomon arrived with his camera.

When the Nazis came to power, Salomon left Germany for the Netherlands, but when the Germans invaded the Netherlands he and his family were sent to Auschwitz, where he was killed in 1944.

For more information on Erich Salomon see:

First Women Admitted to Delaware Bar in 1923

April 28th, 2011 No comments

Delaware was the last state to admit women to the Bar (except possibly Alaska, but that depends on which source you check). Not until 1923, when the state constitution was amended to permit women to be “officials of the state” could women become lawyers. Sybil Ursula Ward and Evangelyn Barsky were both admitted to the state bar in that year.

Sybil Ursula Ward was  from a family of prominent Delaware lawyers. Once admitted to the bar she worked for her family’s law firm Ward & Gray, which is today Potter Anderson & Corroon. She was also the first woman elected to the Wilmington City Council.

Evangelyn Barsky was the daughter of Russian-Jewish immigrants. Her father was a successful merchant. She practiced law with her brother Victor and in 1935 became assistant city solicitor in Wilmington. She was also active in the Republican Party. Unfortunately she was killed in an automobile accident in 1936.


Jacqueline Paradee Mette. “Women in the Delaware Bar” in The Delaware Bar in the Twentieth Century. The Delaware State Bar Association. 1994

Jewish Women in America: An American Historical Encyclopedia. Routledge. 1998

Jewish Women’s Archive, Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia.

Local Legal Tourist Attractions – Faunbrook, Home of First Woman Attorney in Chester County

April 27th, 2011 No comments

Smedley_Darlington_HouseToday’s local legal history site is not exactly a tourist attraction. It is currently a bed and breakfast. Faunbrook, in West Chester, was the home of the Darlington family, including Isabel Darlington, the first woman admitted to the Chester County Bar and one of the earliest woman lawyers in Pennsylvania.

Isabel’s father Smedley Darlington was a Congressman and a wealthy man but an economic panic in 1893 cost him a large part of his fortune. Isabel seems to have decided it would be a good idea if she entered a profession as an independent means of support. She started attending law school at the University of Pennsylvania in 1896, finished the three year course in 18 months, and was admitted to the bar on October 4, 1897.

She went into practice with her brother in law, Thomas Butler, in West Chester, handling estate, property and commercial cases. Probably her most prominent client was Pierre S. du Pont. Ms. Darlington handled the transaction when P.S. du Pont purchased Longwood. She practiced law for many years until her death in 1950.

Much of the information in this post comes from this Philadelphia Inquirer article.