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The Green Bag

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Gertrude Jenkins worked for U.S. Chief Justice Harlan Fiske Stone until his death in 1946. Adept at multi-tasking, she also ran a boarding house to make more money. A position as a floating secretary was created for Jenkins at the Court, and she worked in other chambers as well as the Court library until October 1949, when she accepted a position in Justice Frankfurter’s chambers. Jenkins retired in August 1953.

Gertrude Jenkins’s letters neither shed light on the grand constitutional issues of her day nor provide insights into the justices’ jurisprudential views. They will not cause historians to radically reevaluate the individuals who sat on the Court in the early-to-mid twentieth century. The letters do, however, offer some tantalizing tidbits on the all-too-human men and women who have been associated with our country’s highest court and are a refreshing tonic to the hagiography that often surrounds famous historical figures.



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