March 09, 2016
Biographer Marlene Trestman, right, will sign her new book about Tulane Law School Hall of Famer Bessie Margolin (L ’30) March 10 at the bookstore in the Lavin-Bernick Center.
Book cover and author photo from LSU Press; illustration by Melinda Viles
The Tulane University Bookstore on the uptown campus celebrates Women’s History Month with a pair of readings and book signings by female authors, including the biographer of trailblazer Bessie Margolin (L ’30), one of Tulane Law School’s most distinguished advocates before the U.S. Supreme Court.
On March 10, New Orleans native Marlene Trestman will be signing her just-released book Fair Labor Lawyer: The Remarkable Life of New Deal Attorney and Supreme Court Advocate Bessie Margolin. The event is set for noon-1 p.m. at the bookstore in the Lavin-Bernick Center.
Margolin was also a New Orleans native and attended Newcomb College and Tulane Law before embarking on a legal career that included work on wage and labor protections. When she started practicing in the 1930s, few women, much less Southern Jewish women, were lawyers.
During more than 30 years as a U.S. Labor Department attorney, she won 21 of her 24 Supreme Court arguments. In 1966, she co-founded the National Organization for Women. Margolin was inducted into the Tulane Law School Hall of Fame in 2013.
Margolin and Trestman shared life experiences — both were Jewish orphans who grew up in New Orleans and attended Isidore Newman School — and later Margolin mentored the young Trestman during college and law school and as she pursued a legal career of her own. Trestman is working on another book, The History of New Orleans Jewish Orphans Home, 1855-1946.
Watch Trestman discuss Margolin's trailblazing career on the PBS program To the Contrary.
The bookstore also is hosting New Orleans author and former Tulane University adjunct professor Katy Simpson Smith March 9, at noon- 1 p.m., for a reading from her new novel, Free Men. Set in 1788 in the territory that would later become Alabama, the story follows three men on the run after they commit murder.
Faith Dawson is Tulane University’s editorial director.
(A version of this story first appeared in Tulane’s New Wave.)