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Women in the Bankruptcy Archives

By Leslie O’Neill, Archivist

Among the many collections within the Biddle Archives, only a handful of them are created by women working in law. The National Bankruptcy Archives continues to acquire the papers of judges and attorneys who have worked actively in bankruptcy law, and this month, the Archives would like to acknowledge and highlight the women who have made great contributions to the field.

The Linda B. Riegle Collection of National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges Records (NBA.015), is a small but important collection of National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges Records relating to Riegle's participation on the Board of Governors of the NCBJ from 1991 to 1997. The collection includes meeting materials, committee papers, and correspondence. Riegle earned her J.D. from the Albany Law School in 1977 and has served as Bankruptcy Judge for the United States Bankruptcy Court in Nevada since 1988.

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Mary Scott Davies is another member of the National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges, where she has served in a number of leadership roles, including President, member of the Board of Directors, and Chair of the Endowment for Education. Her papers, the Mary Davies Scott Papers (NBA.017), contain correspondence, meeting materials, and related records pertaining to her activities as a member of the American Bankruptcy Institute, the American College of Bankruptcy, the Bankruptcy Appellate Panel of the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Federal Judicial Center, the National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges, and the Office of the United States Trustees. Scott, who was appointed Bankruptcy Judge to the Eastern District of the United States Federal Court in 1987, where she remained until her retirement in 2002, was instrumental in creating and developing the National Bankruptcy Archives here at Penn Law.

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 A third collection, the Nancy C. Dreher Collection of National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges Records (NBA.026) includes selected issues of the American Bankruptcy Law Journal, which Dreher edited from 1994 to 1998, and "Conference News," the official NCBJ newsletter, which Dreher edited from 1999 to 2000. Dreher received her J.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where, in 1967, as one of only three women, she finished first in her class. She was instrumental in creating the Minnesota bankruptcy pro bono program and her activity and influence was far felt.

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A recently added National Bankruptcy Archives collection is Judge Joyce Bihary’s Papers (NBA.039). In 2012, Judge Bihary donated her records pertaining to the Debtor Education Program, and the Mortgage “Cramdown” Legislation.  Most recently, Judge Bihary joined the National Bankruptcy Archives Committee as co-chair and will help oversee the growth and scope of its collection.

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To search the finding aids for these collections and others, visit the archive finding aid. For more information or to view the collections, contact the Archivist.