|Edith Spurlock Sampson|
Sampson went to work for Cook County in 1927. She worked as a probation officer and then assistant referee in juvenile court, a post she held for eighteen years. In 1934, Sampson established her own practice and became one of the first women to argue before the U.S. Supreme Court. By 1947 she was appointed assistant state’s attorney (prosecutor) for Cook County.
Sampson was also affiliated with the Chicago Professional Women's Club, the Afro-World Fellowship, and the Women's Progressive Committee, serving for a time as president of each organization. She worked with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the League of Women Voters, the National Council of Negro Women, and the Chicago Urban League.
In 1950, Sampson became the first African American named to the permanent United States delegation to the United Nations. While working at the UN, Sampson went on several international lecture tours and held membership on the U.S. delegation to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
In 1962, at the age of 61, Sampson was elected a judge on the Chicago Municipal Court. With that election she became the first black woman in the United States elevated to the bench by popular vote. Sampson retired from the bench in 1978 and died one year later in 1979 in Chicago, Illinois.
Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.