Cahn, Jean



Jean Camper Cahn was born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1936. She devoted her career to social causes, a calling that was probably sparked by growing up in a family of activists. Her father, Dr. John Camper, a physician, founded the first chapter of the NAACP in Baltimore. She began university at Northwestern and later transferred to and graduated from Swarthmore, then proceeded to earn an LL.B. at Yale Law School. While at Swarthmore, Jean Camper met Edgar Cahn and the two eventually married after graduating. Edgar Cahn is the son of legal scholar Edmond Cahn and followed Jean at Yale Law School after earning a PhD in English at Yale. 1965 saw the publication of the Cahns’ landmark article for the Yale Law Journal, “The War on Poverty: A Civilian Perspective,” which proposed a national system of legal services to the poor. Sargent Shriver, director of the Office of Economic Opportunity, was moved by the Cahns to establish the Legal Services Program, the first federally-funded national program of its kind. This program lasted until 1974 when it was replaced by the Legal Services Corporation. In 1972, the Cahns founded the Antioch School of Law which emphasized public interest law. The school used a clinic education model to train its students. They spent the first 2 weeks of the school year living with a poor family to familiarize themselves with the people they would be representing. The school was closed in 1988 but its legacy continues at the University of the District of Columbia’s Clarke School of Law where Edgar Cahn is Distinguished Professor Emeritus. Jean Cahn died in 1991 from breast cancer. Up until her death, she continued to teach and practice law.

Found in 4 Collections and/or Records:

Identifier: NEJL-009.056
Scope and Contents In this interview, Edgar Cahn recalls how he met his future wife, Jean Camper, at Swarthmore, how he followed her into law school after getting his PhD in English, and how the couple became involved with legal services in New Haven. He describes how they came to write their landmark article: “War on Poverty: A Civilian Perspective” (1964), the beginnings of the OEO legal services program, and his work with Sargent Shriver (he worked as special counsel to Sargent Shriver until...
Dates: 2002 Jul 03
Identifier: NEJL-005
 Item — Box NEJL-065.01, item: 01
Identifier: NEJL-065.01

Photograph of Edgar Cahn and Jean Camper Cahn printed in the Washington Post January 19, 1980. Washington Star Collection, Washingtoniana Division, DC Public Library.

Dates: ca. 1975
Identifier: NEJL-004
Scope and Contents

The Legal Services Program file contains materials related to Morrison's work during his tenure from 1972 to 1973 as Acting Chief of the Evaluation Division of the Office of Economic Opportunity’s Legal Services Program, and Special Assistant to the Director of that office.

The second series contains materials related to Morrison's tenure as Executive Director of El Paso Legal Assistance Society from 1971-1972.

Dates: 1964 - 1975

Additional filters:

Archival Object 2
Collection 2
Legal assistance to the poor -- United States 3
Legal services -- United States 2
Poverty 2
War on Poverty 2
Legal assistance to the poor -- Connecticut -- New Haven 1