Research Guides
African Americans in the Law Collection

Thurgood Marshall Bibliography

Biographical Synopsis*

Associate Justice, U.S. Supreme Court, 1967-1991

Thurgood Marshall was born in Baltimore, Maryland, on July 2, 1908. He graduated in 1930 from Lincoln University and in 1933 from Howard University Law School in Washington, D.C., ranking first in his class.

Marshall began his legal career as counsel to the Baltimore branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). He joined the Association's national legal staff in 1936 and in 1938 became its Chief Legal Officer.

In 1940, the NAACP created the Legal Defense and Education Fund, with Marshall as its director and Counsel. Marshall coordinated the NAACP effort to end racial segregation for the next twenty years.

In 1954, he argued the case of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka before the Supreme Court of the United States, a case in which racial segregation in United States public schools was declared unconstitutional. Other cases argued by Thurgood Marshall include:

  • Smith v. Allwright, 1944 - Which ruled that a Southern state's exclusion of African-American voters from primary elections was unconstitutional.
  • Shelley v. Kraemer, 1948 - Which ruled that state judicial enforcement of racial "restrictive covenants" in housing was unconstitutional.
  • Sweatt v. Painter and McLaurin v. Oklahoma State Regents, 1950 - both of these cases ruled against the concept of "separate but equal" facilities for African-American professionals and graduate students in state universities.

In 1961 President John F. Kennedy appointed Marshall to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. This was followed four years later by his appointment to Solicitor General of the United States by President Lyndon B. Johnson.

President Johnson then nominated Marshall to the Supreme Court of the United States on June 13, 1967. After lengthy and often very heated debate the Senate confirmed the appointment on August 30, 1967, making Justice Marshall the first African-American Justice to sit on the Supreme Court. Marshall served 23 years on the Supreme Court, retiring on June 27, 1991, at the age of 82. Justice Marshall died on January 24, 1993.

*From: The Supreme Court of the United States: Its Beginnings and its Justices, 1790-1991. Washington, DC: The Commission on the Bicentennial of the United States Constitution, 1992.

Additional biographical links :


The law library hosts a unique exhibit - "Thurgood Marshall's Early Career in Maryland: 1933-1937. Located on the second floor of the Thurgood Marshall Law Library the exhibit was created by Professor of Law Larry Gibson and was unveiled in 2008 as part of the law school's second Black Law Alumni Reunion and Symposium.

Prof. Gibson first began gathering information about Justice Marshall in 1978 by talking to Marshall's friends, family and legal contemporaries about Marshall's early years as a lawyer in Baltimore.

Gibson researched more than 2,000 documents, including court files, newspaper accounts and Marshall's personal letters to create nine, three-foot-long panels that are on permanent display on the library's second floor along with a collection of 18 photographs of Marshall from a boy to shortly before his death in 1993.

A second two panel display marks the 70th anniversary of the graduation of Donald Gaines Murray in 2008. Murray was the African American student whose legal action to be admitted to the law school began the process of integrating all of the University of Maryland's professional schools. The exhibit also marks the 30th anniversary of the decision to rename the law library after Marshall.

The Marshall Law Library also offers an online research guide featuring historic and archival materials about the Murray case, including Marshall's involvement.

Links and Resources

TMLL material about Justice Marshall may be located via our Catalog.

Citations from the Congressional Record regarding Marshall's appointment to the Supreme Court:

Congressional Record, June 15, 1967, pp. 15692-15693. Comments of Congressman Ottinger (D - NY).

Congressional Record, June 15, 1967, pp. 15967- 15970. Comments of Congressman Rarick (D - LA.).

Congressional Record, June 27, 1967, pp. 17506-17507. Comments of Senator Morse (D - OR).

Congressional Record, August 21, 1967, p.23376. Report of The Committee on the Judiciary.

Congressional Record, August 30, 1967, pp. 24583- 24657. Executive Session: Nomination of Thurgood Marshall to be Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court.

Congressional Record, August 30, 1967, p. 24657. Comments of Senator Mansfield (D - MT).

Material available from Material available from ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Baltimore Afro-American (1893-1988) database

  • At the search screen enter "Marshall, Thurgood" and click the search button or press the enter key.

Marshall's nomination [AUDIO] by President Johnson (NPR)

Transcript of oral history with Justice Marshall regarding his relationship with President Lyndon Johnson (The Johnson Presidential Library).

Justice Frankfurter's draft decree in the Brown case (Library of Congress).

The Civil Rights Era from the African-America Odyssey - includes Marshall's letter to the NAACP on "saving the race" (Library of Congress).

Finding aid for the papers of Thurgood Marshall (Library of Congress).

Proceedings in the Supreme Court of the United States in Memory of Justice Marshall (US Supreme Court).

Working Toward Democracy: Thurgood Marshall and the Constitution of Kenya.

The prison jurisprudence of Justice Thurgood Marshall.

Justice Thurgood Marshall - A Dedicated Career; Symposium issue Arizona Law Review.

Justice for All: The Legacy of Thurgood Marshall. (U.S. International Information Programs)

The Reminiscences of Thurgood Marshall, A transcript of four tape recorded interviews with Supreme Court justice Thurgood Marshall conducted in February 1977.

This page was created by Bill Sleeman.

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