Life Story: Mabel Walker Willebrandt (1889–1963)

Assistant Attorney General and Prohibition Enforcer

The story of the highest-ranking woman in the federal government who used her intellect and her network to enforce Prohibition and reform the prison system.

Mabel Walker Willebrandt

Underwood & Underwood, Mabel Walker Willebrandt, undated. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.

Suggested Activities

  • Combine this life story with the article about bootlegger Marie Troia, who was sentenced to Alderson Federal Prison. Discuss how learning about Marie’s experience might shape your opinion of Mabel’s work—and vice versa.
  • Pair Mabel’s life story with that of Ella May Wiggins to discuss the challenges of married life. What was unique about each woman’s life? How did each contribute to their marriage and seek independence?