Margaret Jane (Burke) Carns, 1859-1952 [RG2970.AM]


RG2970.AM:  Margaret Jane (Burke) Carns, 1859-1952

Papers:  1865-1952

Lincoln, Lancaster County, Neb.:  Lawyer

Size:  1.5 cu.ft.; 3 boxes


Margaret Jane Carns, the first woman member of the American Bar Association and a life long leader in women’s activities, was born in Forestville, New York, November 7, 1859.  She was the daughter of John and Elizabeth Burke.  She came to Omaha in 1878 and married Edmund C. Carns on March 31, 1880.  The couple came to Lincoln in 1901. Margaret Carns was a graduate of Forestville New York High School, studied at the University of New York City, and in 1919 when she was 60 years old, secured a law degree from the University of Nebraska. At the time she was appointed to the American Bar Association she was also a member of the Nebraska and Lincoln Bar Associations.  She served as Vice President of the National Association of Women Lawyers and for many years specialized as a counselor in law for women.

For ten years Mrs. Carns was head of the old charity organization in Lincoln and was secretary of the Nebraska Prison Board.  She was also a member of the National Prison Association and had been appointed by Governor McKelvie as a delegate from the National Council of Women to the International Council at Christiana, Norway. She was once a candidate for justice of the State Supreme Court, the only Nebraska woman ever to be a candidate for the position.  She was the president or chair of many other organizations before her death at the age of 92 on February 25, 1952.


This collection consists of three boxes of manuscript material arranged in four series:  1) Correspondence, 1889-1944; 2) Printed matter; 3) Certificates, documents and memorabilia; and 4) Manuscripts and notes. The bulk of this material dates from 1910-1935 and relates to Margaret Jane Carns’ activities in the American Bar Association, National Association of Women Lawyers, and the Nebraska Prison Board.  Of particular interest are letters from women lawyers in France and Italy concerning the number of women lawyers in those countries.  Included in the collection are certificates and letters of Edmund C. Carns.  Correspondents include:  Rose Falls Bres, 1925; and Charles F. Manderson, 1929.


Series 1 – Correspondence, 1889-1944

Box 1


    1. 1889-1920

    1. 1921-1929

    1. 1932-1944

    1. Undated

Series 2 – Printed Matter

    1. Newspaper Clippings, 1865-1952

    1. Newspaper Clippings, 1865-1952

    1. Newspaper Clippings, 1865-1952

Box 2


    1. Programs and Miscellany

    1. Programs and Miscellany

    1. Programs and Miscellany

Series 3 – Certificates, Documents & Memorabilia

    1. Certificates and Documents (see also OB001)

Box 3


    1. Carns Family Bible

Series 4 – Manuscripts and Notes

Box 2


    1. Manuscripts and Notes


Subject headings:

American Bar Association

Carns, Edmund C., 1844-1895

Carns, Margaret Jane (Burke), 1859-1952

Lawyers — Nebraska

National Association of Women Lawyers

Nebraska Prison Board

Women in Public Life


KLC/kfk           05-03-1996

KFK/dco           09-04-2003

Become a Member!

Our members make history happen.

Join Now

You May Also Enjoy

State Song Sing-Along

State Song Sing-Along

Robert Ball Anderson’s journey “from slavery to affluence”

Robert Ball Anderson’s journey “from slavery to affluence”

Marker Monday: The Savidge Brothers, Aviation Pioneers

Marker Monday: The Savidge Brothers, Aviation Pioneers

About History Nebraska
History Nebraska was founded in 1878 as the Nebraska State Historical Society by citizens who recognized Nebraska was going through great changes and they sought to record the stories of both indigenous and immigrant peoples. It was designated a state institution and began receiving funds from the legislature in 1883. Legislation in 1994 changed History Nebraska from a state institution to a state agency. The division is headed by Interim Director and CEO Jill Dolberg. They are assisted by an administrative staff responsible for financial and personnel functions, museum store services, security, and facilities maintenance for History Nebraska.
Explore Nebraska
Discover the real places and people of our past at these History Nebraska sites.

Upcoming Events

View our new and upcoming events to see how you can get involved.

Become a Member

The work we do to discover, preserve, and share Nebraska's history wouldn't be possible without the support of History Nebraska members.

History Nebraska Education

Learn more about the educational programs provided at our museums, sites, and online.

History Nebraska Programs

Learn more about the programs associated with History Nebraska.

Latest Hall of Fame Inductee

The Nebraska Hall of Fame was established in 1961 to officially recognize prominent Nebraskans.

Listen to our Podcast

Listen to the articles and authors published in the Nebraska History Magazine with our new Nebraska History Podcast!

Nebraska Collections

History Nebraska's mission is to collect, preserve, and open our shared history to all Nebraskans.

Our YouTube Video Collection

Get a closer look at Nebraska's history through your own eyes, with our extensive video collections.

Additional Research Resources

History Nebraska Research and Reference Services help connect you to the material we collect and preserve.

Support History Nebraska
Make a cash donation to help us acquire, preserve, and interpret Nebraska’s history. Gifts to History Nebraska help leave a legacy and may help your taxes, too! Support the work of History Nebraska by donating to the History Nebraska Foundation today.

Volunteers are the heroes of History Nebraska. So much history, so little time! Your work helps us share access to Nebraska’s stories at our museums and sites, the reference room, and online.