Jane Bolin Made History!


Alyssa Moreno Montes

Jane Bolin was born on April 11, 1908. She was youngest of four children, and her father, named Gaius C. Bolin, was the first every black person to graduate from Williams College and was a lawyer. Jane’s mother, Matilda Ingram Emery, was an immigrant from Britain, and sadly died when Jane was 8 years old.

Jane was subject to discrimination in Poughkeepsie, and was usually denied business opportunities when she applied for them. She attended high school in Poughkeepsie, Jane wanted to enroll for Vassar College, but was prevented from doing so because they did not accept black students.  So instead, she enrolled at Wellesley College in Massachusetts, where only two black freshmen including her attended.

A career advisor at Wellesley College tried to discourage Jane from applying to Yale Law school because of her gender and race, but that didn’t stop her. Instead she enrolled, and was the only black female out of three other women. Jane became the first ever black woman to receive a law degree from Yale in 1931, and also in 1932 passed the New York State bar examination.

She accepted a job with the New York City Corporation Council’s  office. Jane married Ralph E. Mizelle, in 1933. But he unfortunately died in 1943. So Jane remarried Walter P. Offutt, Jr, who was a minister but then, he sadly to died in 1974. On July 22, in 1936 at the New York World’s Fair. The mayor of New York City Fiorello La Guardia, appointed Jane as a judge of the Domestic Relations Court.

Can you believe for over 20 years she was the only black female judge? In 1962, she renamed the court a Family Court. Jane worked to encourage racially integrated children. Jane ensured that people were assigned jobs without regard of race or religion. She even funded child care agencies. Jane saw out to ensure children’s rights and education, and was even a legal advisor in the National Council of Negro Women. But sadly on January 8, 2007, Jane Bolin passed away, but her actions and legacy will never be forgotten.