Fair Labor:
The Remarkable Life & Legal Career
of Bessie Margolin

by Marlene Trestman

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Associate Solicitor of Labor Bessie Margolin climbs Supreme Court steps in mid-1950's. (Dep't of Labor photo)

Listen to Chief Justice Earl Warren praise Margolin at her 1972 retirement dinner.

Recording of "Bessie Margolin Farewell Dinner" (Jan. 28, 1972), Laurence H. Silberman Papers, Hoover Institution Archives, Stanford University.

Welcome to the website for Fair Labor, the first biography of Bessie Margolin, a pioneering woman lawyer and Supreme Court advocate.

2013 marked the 75th and 50th anniversaries of the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Equal Pay Act, laws Margolin shepherded through the courts to protect American workers while she proved equality for women.   Margolin's journey from New Orleans' Jewish Orphans' Home through the New Deal to the Supreme Court provides insight to 20th century American themes of  immigration and assimilation, the growth of government, and the pursuit of gender equality in the workplace. 

With research grants from the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute and the National Endowment for the Humanities, lawyer-turned-author Marlene Trestman is writing the first biography of Margolin.  In August 2012, Trestman was awarded a contract by Louisiana State University Press to publish Margolin's biography as part of its Southern Biography Series.

A portion of Trestman's research was published in the March 2012 issue of the Journal of Supreme Court History, for which she was awarded the Journal's Hughes-Gossett Award for best article of 2012.  In 2013 she published an article detailing the Supreme Court arguments of Margolin and other pioneering female advocates, Mabel Walker Willbrandt, Bea Rosenberg and Helen Carloss. In October 2014, Trestman published The First 101 Women To Argue at the Supreme Court, identifying Margolin as the 25th.

As part of the U.S. Department of Labor's Centennial Events, in June 2013, Trestman presented the U.S. Department of Labor's Donald S. Shire Lecture, named for one of Margolin's distinguished proteges. 
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