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Judge Norma L. Shapiro papers

BLL.008

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in our reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Summary Information

Repository:
University of Pennsylvania: Biddle Law Library: Manuscript Collection
Creator:
Shapiro, Norma L.
Title:
Judge Norma L. Shapiro papers
Date [inclusive]:
1957-2016
Call Number:
BLL.008
Extent:
22 linear feet
Language:
English
Language of Materials note:
English
Abstract:
The Judge Norma L. Shapiro papers, 1957-2016, consist of material from Shapiro’s time as a federal judge and her active involvement in legal organizations. Norma Levy Shapiro attended the University of Pennsylvania Law School (now known as the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School) from 1949 to 1951. In August 1978, President Jimmy Carter nominated Shapiro to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, making her the first woman judge to serve in this district. Shapiro gained national recognition for several cases that she presided over, including Harris v. City of Philadelphia. The collection contains correspondence, case notes, speeches, and meeting minutes that document Shapiro’s work on Harris v. City of Philadelphia, her service to the Eastern District Court, and her involvement in professional legal organizations.
Cite as:
[Identification of item], in the Judge Norma L. Shapiro Papers, BLL.008, Biddle Law Library, University of Pennsylvania Law School, Philadelphia, PA.
PDF Version:

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Biography/History

Norma Sondra Levy Shapiro was born in 1928 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She graduated from the University of Michigan in 1948 with a B.A. in political theory. Shapiro attended the University of Pennsylvania Law School (now known as University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School) from 1949 to 1951. She served as editor of the Penn Law Review and graduated magnum cum laude, Order of the Coif, and as the only woman in her class. During her time at law school, she also met and married Bernard Shapiro.

Norma Shapiro spent a year after graduation serving as a clerk for Judge Horace Stern of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. Throughout the 1950s, she also taught several courses at the Penn Law School and served as a Gowen fellow in criminal law from 1954 to 1955 with a focus on juvenile court law.

Shapiro entered private practice in Philadelphia in 1956. She worked at Dechert, Price, and Rhoades until 1978 and became the firm's first woman partner in 1973. In August 1978, President Jimmy Carter nominated Shapiro to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Shapiro was the first woman to ever serve as a judge in this district.

Judge Shapiro gained national recognition for several cases that she presided over, including Harris v. City of Philadelphia. This was a 1982 lawsuit filed by prisoners against the city of Philadelphia, claiming that extreme overcrowding in the city's prisons violated their constitutional rights. Shapiro ruled on the side of the plaintiffs and set standards to reform Philadelphia prisons, including approving the construction of a new detention center and setting a maximum population level. The litigation for the case lasted around thirty years and Shapiro's decisions were met with controversy. She received both praise and significant backlash from citizens and the local press.

Shapiro also presided over Valez v. Cisneros, which ultimately resulted in her placing the Chester Housing Authority in receivership in 1993 to try to improve public housing conditions.

Throughout her life, Shapiro was active in many professional associations, including the American Bar Association, the Pennsylvania Bar Association, the National Association of Women Judges, and the Philadelphia Women's Law Project. In 1977, she became the first woman member and first chairwoman of the Philadelphia Bar Association (PBA) Board of Governors. She also served as chair for the PBA's first committee on women's rights and in 1993 Judge Shapiro became the first person awarded the PBA's Sandra Day O'Connor Award. The award was created to honor a Philadelphia lawyer devoted to mentoring and promoting other women in the profession.

After twenty years as a federal judge, Shapiro assumed senior status in 1998. She remained active on the bench until she passed away in July 2016 in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania.

Scope and Contents

The Judge Norma L. Shapiro papers, 1957-2016, consist of correspondence, case notes, speeches, and meeting minutes that document Shapiro's time as a federal judge and her work on Harris v. City of Philadelphia.

Series I: Biographical Materials, 1957-2013, contains correspondence regarding awards received by Shapiro as well as news clippings and articles about Shapiro's work in the legal profession. Also included is correspondence, transcripts, and submission materials from oral history projects that Shapiro participated in. The series also contains a hard hat gifted to Shapiro in honor of her many visits to construction sites for her cases.

Series II: Harris v. City of Philadelphia, 1961-2005, consists of material collected by Shapiro on Harris v. City of Philadelphia and the thirty years of litigation surrounding the case. This includes copies of correspondence with the court appointed Special Master, William Babbock, correspondence with the City of Philadelphia, letters from the Prison Population Management Unit, letters sent from victim advocacy groups, and four folders of letters sent to Shapiro from prisoners in the Philadelphia prison system. A substanial amount of this is incoming correspondence, but there are two folders labeled "correspondence from Shapiro and court" which include letters Shapiro sent about the case.

Also included are motions, settlement agreements, and orders arranged in the order of the litigation's appellate history: Harris v. Pernsley, Harris v. Reeves, Harris v. Levine, and Harris v. City of Philadelphia. The series contains boxes of supporting research likely conducted by Shapiro's law clerks. These folders include photocopied articles related to other prison overcrowding cases, the prison master report from Jackson v. Hendrick, photocopies of relevant senate and house bills, and a list of federal judges in overcrowding cases. Also included are five folders of news clippings, primarily from Philadelphia newspapers, about the Philadelphia prison system, Shapiro's rulings on Harris, and the building of the new Criminal Justice Center.

Series III: Eastern District of Pennsylvania Court, 1976-2016, contains correspondence, press clippings, and court materials from Shapiro's time as a federal judge on the Eastern District Court. Included are letters on her appointment to the federal bench, a copy of her oath of office, and materials from the Third Circuit Task Force on Equal Treatment in the Courts. The series contains copies of Shapiro's memoranda and orders, arranged by date from 1985 to 2006. Also included are correspondence, photographs, and press clippings from the Chester Housing Authority case.

Series IV: Committees and Professional Organizations, 1968-2008, consists of minutes, correspondence, and collected resources from the professional organizations and committees that Shapiro served on. This includes meeting minutes from the Judicial Conference Committee on Court Administration, papers from the Philadelphia Women's Law Project, correspondence from the Philadelphia Bar Association's Commission on Women in the Profession, and minutes from the National Association of Women Judges Board of Directors as well as the group's task force on women in prison. The series also contains correspondence with the University of Pennsylvania Law School (now known as University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School) related to alumni affairs, the Order of the Coif, the Board of Overseers, and presentations from the American Inn of Court.

Arrangement note

This collection is arranged into the following series:

Series I. Biographical materials, 1957-2013; Series II. Harris v. City of Philadelphia, 1961-2005; Series III. Eastern District of Pennsylvania Court, 1976-2016; Series IV. Committees and Professional Organizations, 1968-2008

Administrative Information

Publication Information

University of Pennsylvania: Biddle Law Library: Manuscripts Collection

Finding Aid Author

Finding aid prepared by Elizabeth Wittrig

Access Restrictions

The archives reserves the right to restrict access to materials of sensitive nature. Please contact the department for further information.

Use Restrictions

Copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

Processing Information note

Processed by Elizabeth Wittrig, January 2022.

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Controlled Access Headings

Subject(s)
  • Women judges
  • Women lawyers
  • Law schools
  • Prisons -- Law and legislation

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Collection Inventory

Biographical Materials, 1957-2013.

Box Folder

Personal correspondence and cards, 1970-1998.

1 1

Awards correspondence, 1969-2013.

1 2

Award: Order of the Coif, 1957.

1 3

Award: Women of Valour plaque presented at Lamokin Village ground breaking ceremony, 1998.

26 1

Award: Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement, 1999.

1 4

Award: Meador-Rosenberg Award, 2003.

1 5

Award: John Marshall Award, 2006.

1 6

Award: James Wilson Award, 2010.

1 7

Award: Justice William J. Brennan Award, 2013.

1 8

Articles: Philadelphia Bar Association election to Chairman of Board of Governors, 1977.

1 9

Articles: Nomination to federal judgeship, 1978.

1 10

Articles: Shapiro awards and events, 1979-1998.

1 11

Articles: Shapiro cases, 1982-2002.

1 12

Articles: "The Keeper of the Cap," Inquirer, 1994 December 25.

1 13

Articles: "Women Lawyers in Philadelphia," The Philadelphia Lawyer, 2002 Winter.

2 1

Articles: "Tribute to Shapiro," Penn Law Review, 2003.

2 2

Oral history: Temple project, 2000.

2 3

Oral history: Women Trailblazers in the Law material submissions (includes photographs), 2008.

2 4

Oral history: Women Trailblazers in the Law correspondence and transcripts, 2008-2009.

2 5

Oral history: Eastern District of Pennsylvania Historical Society correspondence, 2007.

2 6
Flat File Folder

Oversized: Artwork of Shapiro's office.

1 1
Box Object

Hard hat given to Shapiro, circa 1990.

26 2

Harris v. City of Philadelphia, 1968-2005.

Box Folder

Correspondence re: admissions moratorium, 1983-1989.

3 1-2

Correspondence re: Attorney General's Summit on Corrections, 1992.

3 3

Correspondence from Bill Babbock, 1982-1988.

3 4

Correspondence from Bill Babbock, 1989-1990.

3 5

Correspondence from Bill Babbock, 1991-1995.

3 6

Correspondence from Bill Babbock, 1996-1997.

3 7

Correspondence from Bill Babbock re: youth certificate programs, 1990-1993.

3 8

Bill Babbock notes, 1990-1993.

3 9

Bill Babbock notes, 1994 January-May.

3 10

Bill Babbock notes, 1994 June-December.

3 11

Correspondence from City of Philadelphia, 1983-1988.

3 12

Correspondence from City of Philadelphia, 1989-1991.

3 13

Correspondence from City of Philadelphia, 1992-1996, 2005.

4 1

City of Philadelphia Five-Year Financial Plan, 1992.

4 2

City of Philadelphia Ten-Year Financial Plan, 1992-1994.

4 3

Correspondence re: contracts, 1992-1995.

4 4-5

Correspondence re: contracts, 1995.

5 1-3

Contracts and bids, 1994-1995.

5 4-6

Pending contracts and bids, 1992-1996.

5 7

Correspondence from Shapiro and court, 1988-1989.

5 8

Correspondence from Shapiro and court, 1990-1995.

5 9

Correspondence from Shapiro and court re: cases, 1994.

5 10

Correspondence re: Crime Bill, 1994-1995.

5 11

Crime Bill testimonies before House Judiciary Committee, 1995.

5 12

Correspondence re: Criminal Justice Center and Criminal Justice Information System, 1995.

5 13

Correspondence re: Criminal Justice Center security in prisons, 1995.

5 14

Correspondence from District Attorney's Office, 1988.

6 1

Correspondence from District Attorney's Office, 1989-1991.

6 2

Correspondence re: funding and payments, 1990-1999.

6 3

General correspondence on prison overcrowding, 1987-1996.

6 4

General correspondence on other prison programs, 1977, 1990-1996.

6 5

Correspondence from Greater Philadelphia Center for Community Corrections, 1988-1991.

6 6

Correspondence re: Justice Facilities and System Improvement Program (JFSIP) finances, 1991-1994.

6 7

Correspondence re: Justice Facilities and System Improvement Program (JFSIP) finances for Harris accounts, 1991-1994.

6 8

Correspondence re: JFSIP finances for Northeast Detention Center, 1991-1994.

6 9

Correspondence from Pennsylvania Prison Society, 1991.

6 10

Correspondence from Pepper, Hamilton, and Scheetz, 1983-1991.

6 11-13

Correspondence from Philadelphia People's Bail Fund, 1987-1990.

6 14

Correspondence re: pretrial release guidelines, 1995.

6 15

Correspondence from prisoners, 1988.

6 16

Correspondence from prisoners, 1989.

7 1

Correspondence from prisoners, 1990.

7 2

Correspondence from prisoners, 1991.

7 3

Prison Planning Process monthly reports and correspondence, 1991.

7 4

Prison policies and procedures, 1991-1994.

7 5

Prison policies and procedures, 1991-1994.

8 1-3

Correspondence re: Prisons Population Management Unit (PPMU), 1988-1989.

8 4

Correspondence re: PPMU, 1990-1994.

8 5

Correspondence re: PPMU, 1990.

8 6

Correspondence from Don Stoughton re: PPMU, 1989-1992.

8 7

Correspondence re: Program for Female Offenders of Delaware Valley, 1990-1992.

8 8

Correspondence from victim advocacy groups, 1988-1989.

8 9

Agenda for federal court hearing, 1991 August 2.

8 10

Unidentified audio cassettes related to Harris case, 1988-1989.

26 3-6

Joint Appendix for Harris v. City of Philadelphia (Volume I).

8 11

Joint Appendix for Harris v. City of Philadelphia (Volume II).

9 1

Memoranda and orders: Harris v. Pernsley, 1982-1988.

9 2

Memoranda and orders: Harris v. Reeves, 1989-1991.

9 3

Memoranda and orders: Harris v. Reeves, 1991.

9 4

Memoranda and orders: Harris v. Levine, 1992-1996.

10 1

Memoranda and orders: Harris v. City of Philadelphia, 1994-1996.

10 2

Memoranda and orders: Harris v. City of Philadelphia, 1999-2000.

10 3

Motions: Harris v. City of Philadelphia, 1994-1996.

10 4-8

Settlement agreement: Harris v. Pernsley, 1982-1984.

10 9

Stipulations and agreements: Harris v. Pernsley, 1986.

10 10

Stipulations and agreements: Harris v. Reeves, 1988-1991.

10 11

Stipulations and agreements: Harris v. Reeves, objections by inmates, 1991.

10 12-15

Supporting research: Jackson v. Hendrick opinion and order, 1971.

11 1

Jackson v. Hendrick opinions, 1973-1992.

11 2

Jackson v. Hendrick Part I, 1971-1982.

11 3

Jackson v. Hendrick Part II, 1983-1986.

11 4

Jackson v. Hendrick prison master report, 1993 July-September.

12 1

Jackson v. Hendrick stipulation and agreement, 1977-1982.

12 2

Jackson v. Hendrick, 1971, 1983-1986.

12 3

Jackson v. Hendrick, 1986-1989.

12 4

Jackson v. Hendrick, 1990-1992.

12 5

Jackson v. Hendrick medical issues and reports, 1992-1993.

12 6

Jackson v. Hendrick, 1993-1996.

12 7

Supporting research: Senate bills and ordinances, 1987-1994.

12 8

Supporting research: City of Philadelphia bills and ordinances, 1991-1992.

12 9

Supporting research: Supreme Court Reporter, 1961-1989.

12 10

Supporting research: Federal Supplement, 1981-1988.

12 11

Supporting research: Federal Reporter, 1980-1989.

13 1-2

Supporting research: Federal Rules Decisions, 1973-1986.

13 3

Supporting research: New York's Appellate Division Reports, 1973-1988.

13 4

Supporting research: Articles, 1973-1991.

13 5-6

Supporting research: Harris v. Reeves, 1973-1989.

13 7

Supporting research: Docket sheets, 1982-1985.

13 8

Supporting research: Opinions of other courts, 1986-1987.

13 9

Supporting research: List of federal judges in overcrowding cases, 1991.

13 10

Supporting research: District court cases, 1990-1997.

13 11

Supporting research: Court of appeals and supreme court cases, 1987-1993.

13 12

Other cases: Austin v. PA Department of Corrections, 1994-1995.

13 13

Other cases: Rufo v. Inmates, 1991-1994.

14 1-2

Other cases: Union v. Shapp, 1982, 1996.

14 3

Other cases: Walker v. City of Philadelphia, 1982, 1990.

14 4

Other cases: Contractors litigation, 1990-1992.

14 5

News clippings on the "prison cap", 1987-1990.

14 6

PBS prison piece VHS, 1991 March 24.

14 7

News clippings on the "prison cap", 1991-1993.

14 8

News clippings on the "prison cap", 1994-1995.

14 9-10

News clippings on the "prison cap", 1996-2001.

14 11

News clippings on the Criminal Justice Center, 1991-1998.

14 12

Pennsylvania Prison Society music from correctional centers audio cassettes, 1995, 2000.

14 13

Holmesburg Prison framed gate key and cell block wall, 1996.

26 7
Flat File Item

Oversized: Matted photograph of the Philadelphia Criminal Justice Center, circa 1995.

2 1

Eastern District of Pennsylvania Court, 1976-2016.

Box Folder

Appointment to federal bench correspondence, 1976-1978.

15 1

Shapiro oath of office, 1978.

15 2

Congratulations on nomination, 1978.

15 3

Attorney admissions, 1989-1993.

15 4

Inductions, 1988, 2002.

15 5

Naturalization ceremony VHS, 2003.

26 8

25th year anniversary celebration and portrait presentation, 2003.

15 6

Correspondence re: smoking policy in prisons, 2013.

15 7

Chester Housing Authority, 2002-2016.

15 8

Chester Housing Authority press clippings, 1990-2015.

15 9

Third Circuit Task Force meetings and correspondence, 1993-1997.

15 10

Third Circuit Task Force hearings and questionnaires, 1995-1996.

15 11

Third Circuit Task Force reports, 1997.

15 12

Third Circuit Task Force resources, other circuit studies, 1984-1995.

16 1

Third Circuit Task Force resources, 9th Circuit study, 1994-1997.

16 2

Third Circuit Task Force resources, 1988-1995.

16 3-4

Opinions re: Robert Surrick, 2001.

17 1

Memoranda and orders by Shapiro, 1985-1987.

17 2

Memoranda and orders by Shapiro, 1988-1989.

17 3

Memoranda and orders by Shapiro: Philadelphia County v. Commonwealth, 1990-1994.

17 4

Memoranda and orders by Shapiro, 1990-1991.

17 5

Memoranda and orders by Shapiro, 1992.

17 6

Memoranda and orders by Shapiro, 1993-1994.

18 1-2

Memoranda and orders by Shapiro, 1995-1997.

18 3

Memoranda and orders by Shapiro, 1998-1999.

18 4

Memoranda and orders by Shapiro, 2000-2006.

18 5

Committees and Professional Organizations, 1968-2008.

Box Folder

Judiciary Committee correspondence, 1968, 1992.

19 1

Juries and court administration news clippings, 1990-2001.

19 2

Judicial Conference Committee on Court Administration (JCCCA) meetings and resources, 1984.

19 3-7

JCCCA meetings and resources, 1985.

19 8-10

JCCCA meetings and resources, 1986.

20 1-5

JCCCA meetings and resources, 1987.

20 6-9

Philadelphia Women's Political Caucus, 1979.

21 1

Philadelphia Women's Law Project, 1978-1979.

21 2

Philadelphia Bar Association (PBA) Commission on Women in the Profession, 1993-1997, 2005-2007.

21 3-4

PBA Commission on Women in the Profession Committee on Gender Bias, 1989-1996.

21 5

PBA Conference on Women in the Legal Profession, 1994.

21 6

"Women in the law" news clippings, 1983-1995.

21 7

"Women in judging" tribute booklet and VHS, 1994-1995.

21 8

Women Judges Fund for Justice (WJFJ) Board of Directors, 1990-1993.

21 9

WJFJ gender bias study, 1985-2001.

21 10

WJFJ violence against women, 1994-2000.

21 11

National Association of Women Judges (NAWJ) Women in Prison Task Force correspondence and meetings, 1990-2001.

21 12-13

NAWJ 7th National Roundtable for Women in Prison, 1993.

21 14

NAWJ "Sentencing Women Offenders: A Training Curriculum for Judges", 2000.

21 15

"Female Offenders in the Community" VHS, 2000.

22 1

University of Pennsylvania Law School (Penn Law) correspondence, 1974-1989.

22 2

Penn Law alumni affairs, 1987.

22 3

Penn Law alumni affairs: Penn's 250th birthday, 1989-1990.

22 4

Penn Law alumni forum: Professor Schwartz videocassette, 1981 February 24.

22 5

Penn Law alumni forum: Professor Leo Levin videocassette, 1981 January 28.

22 6

Penn Law American Inn of Court, 1999 January-November.

22 7-9

Penn Law American Inn of Court, 2000 October-November.

22 10-11

Penn Law American Inn of Court, 2001 January-February.

22 12-13

Penn Law American Inn of Court, 2001 March-November.

23 1-3

Penn Law American Inn of Court, 2002-2003.

23 4-5

Penn Law American Inn of Court, 2006 January-November.

23 6-8

Penn Law American Inn of Court, 2007 January-April.

23 9-11

Penn Law American Inn of Court, 2008 January-October.

23 12-13

Penn Law Board of Overseers, 1977-1980.

24 1-2

Penn Law Board of Overseers, 1984-1987.

24 3-4

Penn Law Class of 1951 reunion, 2001.

25 1

Penn Law Order of the Coif, 1971-1979.

25 2

Penn Law Order of the Coif, 1980-1989.

25 3

University of Pennsylvania Trustees Council of Penn Women, 1997-1998.

25 4