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Finding Aid for the Ben B. Lindsey papers, 1893-1965
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Ben B. Lindsey (1869-1943) is recognized as the founder of the U.S. juvenile court system, having served as the first juvenile judge of Denver, Colorado from 1907-1927. The collection spans his judgeship in Colorado as well as his service on the California Superior Court in Los Angeles from 1934-1943. An outspoken public figure on the progressive issues of his time, the judge advocated rights for children, laborers, and women. The collection reflects his varied personal interests and public service as a judge, author of children's legislation, foreign representative, and New Deal appointee.
Ben B. (Ben Barr) Lindsey (1869-1943), recognized as the founder of the U.S. juvenile court system, was born in Jackson, Tennessee on November 25, 1869. The eldest of four children, he grew up on a plantation owned by his grandfather until his father, Landy Tunstall Lindsey, moved the family to Denver for a job as a telegraph operator when Ben Lindsey was 11. He first attended Catholic school in Denver but returned to Jackson to enroll in a Baptist preparatory school when his father lost his job and the two eldest Lindsey boys were sent to live with their grandfather. When Lindsey turned 18, his life underwent great upheaval when his father committed suicide, leaving the burden of the family on his shoulders. He juggled several jobs simultaneously, including day work as an office boy for a local attorney and evenings as a janitor. Lindsey struggled under the intense pressure and responsibility nearly being overwhelmed by a sense of failure and hopelessness that led him to attempt to take his own life. He held a revolver to his head and pulled the trigger, but miraculously the gun misfired. In that instant, Lindsey gained the determination to fight his circumstances, an overarching attitude that shaped his path as a lifelong social reformer and advocate for youth.
28 document boxes (14 linear feet) 1 oversize flat box.
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