Violette Neatley Anderson

Violette N. Anderson

Violette N. Anderson was born July 16, 1882, in London, England. She and her parents, Richard and Marie Neatley, emigrated to the United States while Violette was a young girl, settling in Chicago. Violette graduated from Chicago’s North Division High School in 1899, then worked as a court reporter from 1905-1920.

She was fascinated by law and determined to become an attorney herself. She attended post-secondary school at the Chicago Seminar of Sciences from 1912-1915, and earned her LLB (a more advanced law degree than the typical JD) from Chicago Law School in 1920.

Violette Neatley Anderson became the first female Chicago City prosecutor in 1922, then established a successful legal practice in the Chicago area two years later. On January 29, 1926, she became the first African-American woman admitted to the US Supreme Court bar, but never argued a case before the Court.

She was active in politics, and played a critical role in passing the Bankhead-Jones Act, “An Act donating public lands to the several States and Territories which may provide colleges for the benefit of agriculture and the mechanic arts.”

Sadly, Anderson died of colon cancer just two years later, in 1937.