Washington Press Club Foundation


Charlotte G. Moulton was the Supreme Court reporter for the United Press for almost thirty years, from 1949 to 1978. At the time of her oral history Charlotte was seventy-seven years old, retired from full-time journalism, and living in Falls Church, Virginia.

We held our interviews in Charlotte's home in a small sub-division of Falls Church, not far from the main routes into Washington, D.C. Charlotte has lived in this neighborhood since the early 1950's and commuted by car to the Supreme Court every day. Her mother lived with her until her death at age ninety-five. Charlotte and I made ourselves at ease on the blue couch in the living room looking out at the winter landscape and neighboring houses through the big picture window. We had lunch in the adjacent dining room and later Charlotte showed me her attached greenhouse. Charlotte had pored over several boxes of "clips" prior to and between interview days and at the end of our interview Charlotte and I looked over many of her most interesting finds.

Prior to conducting the oral history I spoke with journalists Eileen Shanahan, Dana Bullen, Anthony Lewis, Thomas Stewart, Kay Mills, and Cynthia Mills. They all praised Charlotte's high standards for covering a particularly arduous "beat" and her unmatched integrity in reporting Supreme Court decisions with accuracy and clarity. Eileen Shanahan said to me that Charlotte "humiliated generations of AP reporters by getting it precisely right when others didn't." Eileen also stated that editors in newspapers around the country would wait for the UP wire and Charlotte's copy to confirm a story before they would go to press. Dana Bullen called the Supreme Court beat during Charlotte's tenure one of the most taxing in American journalism. He recalled the sharp contrast between the slow, meticulous preparation required before decisions were handed down and "Decision Monday" when wire service reporters were required to get a story of the high Court's decision onto the wire within minutes of the announcement. Cynthia Mills, who worked with Charlotte just prior to Charlotte's retirement, confirmed that Charlotte's enthusiasm for this difficult and stressful work had not lagged. Cynthia called Charlotte the "dean of Supreme Court reporters."

In addition to her work at the Supreme Court Charlotte had also been a UP reporter at a number of federal agencies and departments, including the Interstate Commerce Commission, the Federal Communications Commission, the Post Office, the War Labor Board, the Office of Education, the Agriculture Department, the Justice Department, and the House of Representatives. Without any formal training as a journalist, nor legal training for her work at the Supreme Court, Charlotte is exemplary of a whole generation of women who worked in journalism with dedication, integrity, sensitivity, and a high degree of skill learned on the job.

After the interviews, Charlotte pored over more clips, letters, diaries, etc., and came up with more names and better explanations, which have been inserted into the text, put in footnotes, or added as an appendix.

Anne S. Kasper

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Session: One A | One B | Two A | Two B | Three | Appendix
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