Lindsey, Ben B. (Ben Barr), 1869-1943

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Judge and social reformer.

From the description of Ben B. Lindsey papers, 1838-1957 (bulk 1890-1943). (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 71014458

Judge, author, and reformer. Born Nov. 25, 1869 Jackson, Tenn. At 16, moved to Denver, Colo. Admitted to Colorado bar in 1894. Active in establishing the juvenile court system in Denver and served as its presiding judge 1900-1927. Served as judge in the conciliation court at Los Angeles, Calif. 1939-1943. Died Mar. 26, 1943 Los Angeles, California.

From the description of Judge Benjamin Barr Lindsey papers, 1837-1942 [manuscript]. (Denver Public Library). WorldCat record id: 14172117

Ben B. (Ben Barr) Lindsey (1869-1943), recognized as the founder of the U.S. juvenile court system, was born in Jackson, Tenn. on Nov. 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. From a momentous personal event in his early life, Lindsey gained the determination to fight his circumstances, an overarching attitude that shaped his path as a lifelong social reformer and advocate for youth. Lindsey was a law clerk and began studying law with a group of other like-minded young men. He was admitted to the bar in 1894 and practiced law for several years until he was appointed Denver county court judge at the age of 31. Noted for his ability to empathize and defend, Lindsey took on the issue of juvenile justice, penning legislation in 1899 that would establish the first Juvenile and Family Court of Denver. He advocated for laws that recognized juveniles differently from adults, not as criminals but as misguided youth in need of education and reform. He also wrote legislation that held parents accountable for juvenile delinquency. Lindsey served as Denver's juvenile court judge from 1907 to 1927, when he was ousted from the bench in a fierce political battle with the Ku Klux Klan. Judge Lindsey married Henrietta Brevoort of Detroit in 1914, and the two worked closely and traveled together. In 1915, they joined Henry Ford's Peace Mission on a tour of the European front. The couple eventually adopted a daughter whom they named Benetta, a combination of their first names. An outspoken champion for justice and social reform, the judge stirred up controversy wherever he went and gained national recognition in the press. Lindsey made public statements, wrote articles and books, and gave speeches on progressive issues of his time as a proponent of women's suffrage, modern marriage, birth control, sex education, charity, conservation of natural resources, labor rights, and freedom from censorship in motion pictures. A complex character, he attracted many loyal friends--among them Teddy Roosevelt--and countless enemies. His opponents continuously sought out opportunities to ruin his reputation and career. In 1929, they succeeded and he was disbarred by the Colorado Supreme Court for receiving compensation for legal services rendered while serving as a judge. He was later reinstated by the Colorado State Bar Association in 1935 after a long persistent court appeal. The judge and his family moved to Los Angeles, Calif. in 1931 followed by a cloud of controversy. Despite continued opposition in his new home town, Lindsey ran for California Superior Court judge in 1934 and won in a huge landslide. He continued his advocacy for juvenile justice, writing legislation to establish the California Children's Court of Conciliation, on which he served as founding judge until his death. Ben Lindsey died on March 26, 1943 of a heart attack at the age of 73.

From the description of Papers, ca. 1893-1965. (University of California, Los Angeles). WorldCat record id: 40975021

American jurist and reformer. Founded the Juvenile Court of Colorado, and later served as a superior court judge in Los Angeles.

From the description of Benjamin Barr Lindsey letter to Glen Walton Blodgett [manuscript], 1914 Oct 19 (University of Virginia). WorldCat record id: 398135378

Biography

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.

Ben Lindsey eventually took on more responsibilities as a law clerk and began studying law with a group of other like-minded young men. He was admitted to the bar in 1894 and practiced law for several years until he was appointed Denver county court judge at the age of 31. Noted for his ability to empathize and defend, Lindsey took on the issue of juvenile justice, penning legislation in 1899 that would establish the first Juvenile and Family Court of Denver. He advocated for laws that recognized juveniles differently from adults, not as criminals but as misguided youth in need of education and reform. He also wrote legislation that held parents accountable for juvenile delinquency. Lindsey served as Denver's juvenile court judge from 1907 to 1927, when he was ousted from the bench in a fierce political battle with the Ku Klux Klan.

Judge Lindsey married Henrietta Brevoort of Detroit in 1914, and the two worked closely and traveled together. In 1915, they joined Henry Ford's Peace Mission on a tour of the European front. The couple eventually adopted a daughter whom they named Benetta, a combination of their first names.

An outspoken champion for justice and social reform, the judge stirred up controversy wherever he went and gained national recognition in the press. Lindsey made public statements, wrote articles and books, and gave speeches on progressive issues of his time as a proponent of women's suffrage, modern marriage, birth control, sex education, charity, conservation of natural resources, labor rights, and freedom from censorship in motion pictures. A complex character, he attracted many loyal friends, among them Teddy Roosevelt, and countless enemies. His opponents continuously sought out opportunities to ruin his reputation and career. In 1929, they succeeded and he was disbarred by the Colorado Supreme Court for receiving compensation for legal services rendered while serving as a judge. He was later reinstated by the Colorado State Bar Association in 1935 after a long persistent court appeal.

The judge and his family moved to Los Angeles, California in 1931 followed by a cloud of controversy. Despite continued opposition in his new home town, Lindsey ran for California Superior Court judge in 1934 and won in a huge landslide. He continued his advocacy for juvenile justice, writing legislation to establish the California Children's Court of Conciliation, on which he served as founding judge until his death. Ben Lindsey died on March 26, 1943 of a heart attack at the age of 73.

Though imperfect and at times overly dramatic, Lindsey undeniably poured his soul into making great strides as an individual and through his public contribution to protect children and to entitle them to a childhood, an education, and a more promising future.

From the guide to the Ben B. Lindsey papers, 1893-1965, (University of California, Los Angeles. Library. Department of Special Collections.)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Gilbert, W., artist. I'm satisfied [art original] : with congratulations to Judge Lindsey. Denver Public Library, Central Library
referencedIn Madeleine Zabriskie Doty Papers MS 49., 1880-1984 Sophia Smith Collection
referencedIn Elmer Rice letters from various correspondents, 1915-1967. Harvard Theatre Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University.
referencedIn Steffens, Lincoln, 1866-1936. Papers, 1863-1936. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
creatorOf Labadie, Jo, 1850-1933. Jo Labadie papers, 1880-1931. University of Michigan
referencedIn John H. Dietrich papers., 1905-1987. Minnesota Historical Society.
referencedIn Conine, Martha A. Bushnell. Scrapbook, [ca. 1896]-1910 [microform]. Denver Public Library, Central Library
referencedIn National American Woman Suffrage Association. National American Woman Suffrage Association records, 1839-1961 (inclusive), 1890-1930 (bulk), [microform]. Yale University Library
referencedIn George Sylvester Viereck papers, 1924-1938 Yale University. Department of Manuscripts and Archives
referencedIn Big little judge, a radio portrait of Ben B. Lindsey 1965. Denver Public Library, Central Library
referencedIn Donald R. Richberg Papers, 1900-1960, (bulk 1953-1958) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn Jesse Shepard Papers, 1868-1959 San Diego History Center Document Collection
referencedIn The Nation, records, 1879-1974 (inclusive), 1920-1955 (bulk). Houghton Library.
referencedIn Arthur Ernest Morgan papers concerning Edward Bellamy, 1912-1944. Houghton Library.
creatorOf Lindsey, Ben B. (Ben Barr), 1869-1943. Papers, ca. 1893-1965. University of California, Los Angeles
creatorOf Lindsey, Ben B. (Ben Barr), 1869-1943. Benjamin Barr Lindsey letter to Glen Walton Blodgett [manuscript], 1914 Oct 19 University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Ray Stannard Baker Papers, 1836-1947, (bulk 1907-1944) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn John Reed papers, 1903-1967. Houghton Library.
referencedIn Glavis, L. R. (Louis Russell), 1883-1971. Papers of L. R. Glavis, 1907-1971 (bulk 1933-1935). Library of Congress
referencedIn Papers relating to the Ford peace plan, 1915-1918. Library of Congress
referencedIn Viereck, George Sylvester, 1884-1962. George Sylvester Viereck papers, 1924-1938 (inclusive). Yale University Library
creatorOf Dietrich, John H. (John Hassler), 1878-. John H. Dietrich papers, 1905-1987. Minnesota Historical Society, Division of Archives and Manuscripts
referencedIn Barrows family papers, 1861-1931. Houghton Library.
creatorOf Ben B. Lindsey papers, 1893-1965 University of California, Los Angeles. Library. Department of Special Collections.
referencedIn Conine, Martha A. Bushnell. Scrapbook, [ca. 1896]-1910. Denver Public Library, Central Library
creatorOf Gilbert, W., artist. [A fair chance for every boy] [art original]. Denver Public Library, Central Library
creatorOf Jaeger, Luth, 1851-1925. Luth and Nanny Mattson Jaeger papers, 1874-1933. Minnesota Historical Society Library
referencedIn National American Woman Suffrage Association. National American Woman Suffrage Association records, 1839-1961 (inclusive), 1890-1930 (bulk), [microform]. University of Hawaii at Manoa, Hamilton Library
creatorOf Lindsey, Henrietta Brevoort, 1894-1969,. Benjamin Barr Lindsey : [collection] : 1902-1965. History Colorado
referencedIn Baker, Ray Stannard, 1870-1946. Ray Stannard Baker papers, 1836-1947 (bulk 1907-1944). Library of Congress
creatorOf Lindsey, Ben B. (Ben Barr), 1869-1943. Judge Benjamin Barr Lindsey papers, 1837-1942 [manuscript]. Denver Public Library, Central Library
referencedIn Judge Philip B. Gilliam : [collection] : 1969. History Colorado
referencedIn Junius E. Beal Papers, 1869-1946 Bentley Historical Library , University of Michigan
referencedIn Lincoln Steffens Papers, 1863-1936. Columbia University. Rare Book and Manuscript Library,
creatorOf Beal, Junius E. (Junius Emery), 1860-1942. Junius Emery Beal papers, 1869-1946. University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library
creatorOf Lindsey, Ben B. (Ben Barr), 1869-1943. Ben B. Lindsey papers, 1838-1957 (bulk 1890-1943). Library of Congress
creatorOf Meally, John Edward, 1864-. John E. Meally papers, 1893-1949. University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library
creatorOf Rice, Elmer, 1892-1967,. Elmer Rice letters from various correspondents, 1915-1967. Harvard University, Houghton Library
referencedIn Papers Relating to the Ford Peace Plan, 1915-1918 Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn John E. Meally Papers, 1893-1949 Bentley Historical Library , University of Michigan
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
correspondedWith Addams, Jane, 1860-1935 person
correspondedWith Annin, Joseph P. person
correspondedWith Baker, Newton Diehl, 1871-1937 person
correspondedWith Baker, Ray Stannard, 1870-1946. person
correspondedWith Baldwin, Roger N. (Roger Nash), 1884-1981 person
correspondedWith Barrows family. family
associatedWith Beal, Junius E. (Junius Emery), 1860-1942. person
correspondedWith Beveridge, Albert Jeremiah, 1862-1927 person
associatedWith Blodgett, Glen Walton, person
correspondedWith Bok, Edward William, 1863-1930 person
correspondedWith Brandeis, Louis Dembitz, 1856-1941 person
correspondedWith Buchtel, Henry Augustus, 1847-1924 person
correspondedWith Burbank, Luther, 1849-1926 person
correspondedWith Catt, Carrie Chapman, 1859-1947 person
correspondedWith Causey, James H. person
correspondedWith Cavanaugh, John, 1870-1935 person
associatedWith Conine, Martha A. Bushnell. person
correspondedWith Costigan, Edward Prentiss, 1874-1939 person
correspondedWith Creel, George, 1876-1953 person
correspondedWith Darrow, Clarence, 1857-1938 person
associatedWith Dietrich, John H. (John Hassler), 1878-. person
correspondedWith Doty, Madeleine Z. (Madeleine Zabriskie), 1877-1963 person
correspondedWith Early, Stephen T. (Stephen Tyree), 1889-1951 person
correspondedWith Edison, Thomas A. (Thomas Alva), 1847-1931 person
correspondedWith Ellis, Havelock, 1859-1939 person
correspondedWith Ely, Robert Erskine, b. 1861 person
correspondedWith Evans, Wainwright person
correspondedWith Ford, Harriet, 1868-1949 person
correspondedWith Ford, Henry, 1863-1947 person
associatedWith Gilbert, W., artist. person
associatedWith Glavis, L. R. (Louis Russell), 1883-1971. person
associatedWith Grierson, Francis, 1848-1927 person
correspondedWith Howe, Louis M. (Louis McHenry), 1871-1936 person
correspondedWith Hughes, Charles Evans, 1862-1948 person
correspondedWith Ickes, Harold L. (Harold LeClair), 1874-1952 person
associatedWith Jaeger, Luth, 1851-1925. person
correspondedWith Johnson, Hiram, 1866-1945 person
correspondedWith Johnson, Tom Loftin, 1854-1911 person
correspondedWith Kellogg, John Harvey, 1852-1943 person
associatedWith Labadie, Jo, 1850-1933. person
correspondedWith La Follette, Robert M. (Robert Marion), 1855-1925 person
correspondedWith Lasky, Jesse L., 1880-1958 person
associatedWith Lindsay family. family
correspondedWith Lippmann, Walter, 1889-1974 person
correspondedWith Mack, Julian W. (Julian William), 1866-1943 person
correspondedWith McAdoo, W. G. (William Gibbs), 1863-1941 person
correspondedWith McClure, S. S. (Samuel Sidney), 1857-1949 person
correspondedWith McDonald, Jesse F., 1858-1942 person
correspondedWith McIntyre, H. H. person
associatedWith Meally, John Edward, 1864- person
correspondedWith Miller, Justin, 1888-1973 person
correspondedWith Morgan, Arthur Ernest, 1878-1975 person
correspondedWith Morgenthau, Henry, 1856-1946 person
associatedWith National American Woman Suffrage Association. corporateBody
associatedWith Nation (New York, N.Y. : 1865). corporateBody
correspondedWith O'Higgins, Harvey Jerrold, 1876-1929 person
correspondedWith Olson, Culbert Levy, 1876- person
correspondedWith Patterson, Thomas MacDonald, 1839-1916 person
correspondedWith Pearson, Drew, 1897-1969 person
correspondedWith Perkins, George W. (George Walbridge), 1862-1920 person
correspondedWith Pershing, James H. (James Hammond), 1863-1948 person
correspondedWith Pinchot, Amos, 1873-1944 person
correspondedWith Pinchot, Gifford, 1865-1946 person
correspondedWith Reed, John, 1887-1920 person
associatedWith Rice, Elmer, 1892-1967, person
correspondedWith Richberg, Donald R. (Donald Randall), 1881-1960 person
correspondedWith Riis, Jacob A. (Jacob August), 1849-1914 person
correspondedWith Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962 person
correspondedWith Roosevelt, Franklin D. (Franklin Delano), 1882-1945 person
correspondedWith Roosevelt, Theodore, 1858-1919 person
correspondedWith Rosenblatt, Sol A., b. 1900 person
associatedWith Rubin, H. Ted, 1926- person
correspondedWith Russell, Bertrand, 1872-1970 person
correspondedWith Sanger, Margaret, 1879-1966 person
correspondedWith Schoff, Hannah Kent, 1853-1940 person
correspondedWith Shafroth, John F. (John Franklin), 1854-1922 person
correspondedWith Shafroth, Morrison, 1888-1978 person
correspondedWith Sinclair, Upton, 1878-1968 person
correspondedWith Steffens, Lincoln, 1866-1936 person
correspondedWith Stowe, Lyman Beecher, 1880-1963 person
correspondedWith Taft, William H. (William Howard), 1857-1930 person
correspondedWith Thompson, R. D. person
associatedWith Viereck, George Sylvester, 1884-1962. person
correspondedWith Warren, Earl, 1891-1974 person
correspondedWith West, James E. (James Edward), 1876-1948 person
correspondedWith White, William Allen, 1868-1944 person
correspondedWith Whitlock, Brand, 1869-1934 person
associatedWith Whittier State School (Whittier, Calif.) corporateBody
correspondedWith Wilson, Woodrow, 1856-1924 person
correspondedWith Wise, Stephen S. (Stephen Samuel), 1874-1949 person
associatedWith Women's Protective League. corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
Colorado--Denver
Colorado
California
Subject
Coal miners' strike, Colorado, 1913-1914
Child welfare
Strikes and lockouts
Divorce
Sexual health
Lawyers--Disbarment, disqualification, etc
Juvenile courts
Schools
Judges--Biography
Marriage
Juvenile justice, Administration of
Women--Suffrage
Judge--Archival resources
Sex instruction
Child labor
Prisoners--Legal status, laws, etc
Birth control
Occupation
Jurists
Reformers
Judges--United States--Archival resources
Function

Person

Birth 1869-11-25

Death 1943-03-26

Information

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