Weaving Women's Words Baltimore Stories
Elsbeth Levy Bothe

I was the only woman lawyer in the whole state who was doing predominantly criminal law. Women lawyers typically did juvenile, domestic, and so on. I was the first who did serious criminal cases like murders, robberies, and rapes.

Elsbeth Levy Bothe

Known as a criminal lawyer and a judge with a unique presence on the bench, Elsbeth Bothe was born in 1927 to a large Baltimore German-Jewish family, the Levys. A great-granddaughter of Isaac Hamburger, founder of Hamburger and Sons Clothiers, Elsbeth was educated at The Park School before attending the University of Chicago and the University of Maryland School of Law. Elsbeth met her husband, Bert Bothe, in 1952 while both were activist lawyers in the labor movement. She worked in Mississippi during the civil rights movement and was active with the United Auto Workers and the Legal Aid Bureau upon her return to Baltimore. Elsbeth specialized in labor and criminal law while an associate in private practice and later in the Public Defender's Office. In 1978, she became the third woman appointed as a judge to the Baltimore Circuit Court. Elsbeth Bothe passed away on February 27, 2013.

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© 2004 Jewish Women's Archive. Photograph by Joan Roth