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Helen Lehman Buttenwieser

As a lawyer, Helen Lehman Buttenwieser fought to protect children in the foster care system. Buttenwieser was a board member of the Madison House Settlement from 1929–1945 and served on the Commission for Social Welfare from 1929–1932, among others. She also volunteered as a Jewish Big Sister and social worker, often testifying in court cases on behalf of children, experiences that led her to pursue a law degree. She graduated NYU Law School in 1936 and worked first for a law firm and then for the Legal Aid Society, becoming Legal Aid’s first woman chair, before creating her own law firm. She was also a trustee of the ACLU, a board member of the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund, and the first woman chair of a standing committee of the Bar Association of the City of New York. In 1946 Buttenwieser chaired the New York City Committee on Adoptions to investigate abuses in adoptions, reporting on black markets in babies and on babies kept so long in foster care that they became too old for placement. The committee recommended home visits for prospective parents, procedures for terminating unsuccessful adoptions, and measures to prevent placing children for profit.

More on Helen Lehman Buttenwieser
Date of Birth
October 8, 1905
Place of Birth
New York, New York
Date of Death
December 31, 1989

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Helen Lehman Buttenwieser." (Viewed on January 23, 2018) <>.


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