Jean Ledwith King Oral History Collection

Bentley Historical Library banner

Jean Ledwith King Oral History Collection

The materials in this online repository comprise the Jean Ledwith King oral history collection held by the Bentley Historical Library. For a more complete index to the materials, please consult the collection's online finding aid.

For questions or more information, please contact the Bentley Historical Library's Division of Reference and Access Services

Ann Arbor, Michigan attorney who spent her career fighting sex discrimination in education, sports, and politics. The collection contains oral history interviews, tribute statements, and photographs collected on the occasion of renaming the Women’s Center of Southeastern Michigan after Jean Ledwith King and for the creation of a documentary, “The Power of One: Celebrating Jean Ledwith King,” by John Owens.

Jean Ledwith King was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1924. She attended the University of Michigan for college, met her husband, John King, and in 1948 graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English. In 1953, she earned a master’s degree in history. She was involved in politics and, in her 40s, decided to apply to law school. She attended the University of Michigan Law School, graduated in 1968, and passed the bar exam in 1970.

As an attorney, King quickly made her mark fighting sex discrimination, particularly in education. In 1970, she filed a complaint against the University of Michigan for sex discrimination, which resulted in the government withholding funds from various federal contracts until practices improved. King’s efforts helped women organize to fight discrimination both formally and informally at institutions throughout Michigan and the United States.

King has also been instrumental in furthering women’s opportunities in athletics, beginning in the mid-1970s. One of her toughest cases was the suit against Michigan State University in 1979 for discriminating against women in the unequal treatment of the men’s and women’s basketball teams. Over the course of her career, King has fought for women’s participation in over 30 different sports.

In 2011, the Women’s Center of Southeastern Michigan officially changed its name to the Jean Ledwith King Women’s Center of Southeastern Michigan to honor King and further frame their own mission and identity in light of King’s work and values. To celebrate this, documentary filmmaker John Owens worked to compile oral histories from King and various other individuals associated with her work for the creation of a short documentary entitled “The Power of One: Celebrating Jean Ledwith King.” This film, in addition to a compilation of brief statements from politicians, female athletes, and a former law partner, was shown at the dinner held on March 26, 2011 to commemorate the Women’s Center’s name change (see Frank Weir, “Ann Arbor Legend Honored,” Grand Rapids Legal News, April 2011; Mary Morgan, “Honoring Jean Ledwith King,” Ann Arbor Chronicle, March 2011).

Please note:

Copyright has been transferred to the Regents of the University of Michigan.

Recent Deposits RSS Feed

View more

Search Deep Blue

Advanced Search

Browse by

My Account


Coming Soon

MLibrary logo