Judge Edith J. Ingram was born on January 16, 1942 in Sparta, Georgia to Katherine Hunt and Robert T. Ingram. She attended East End Elementary School and L.S. Ingraham High School. She moved in briefly with her Aunt Mae in New York City after high school and enrolled in Manhattan Medical School, but moved back to Georgia in 1960 where she earned her B.S. degree in education from Fort Valley State College in 1963.
Ingram taught at Moore Elementary School in Griffin, Georgia and at Hancock Central High School, which was established by her father and maternal grandfather. After five years of teaching, her father, the only African American on the Hancock County School Board, prompted her to run for a judgeship. In 1969, Ingram became the first African American female judge in Georgia and upon being elected to serve on the Hancock County Court of the Ordinary. In 1973, she moved to the county’s probate court, making her the first African American female probate judge in the United States. She served as probate judge for thirty-six years, presiding over wills, marriages, misdemeanors, felonies and civil disobedience cases. In 1983, Ingram was appointed to serve as a member of the State Democratic Executive Committee by President Jimmy Carter (then Governor of Georgia) and Lieutenant Colonel Ade De Camp. That same year, she was also appointed to the Governor’s Staff by then Governor Joe Frank Harris. She retired from the bench in 2004.
Ingram was active in the Sparta community and was a member of the Georgia Association of Probate Judges, the Hancock Chapter of the Georgia Coalition of Black Women where she was president, the National College of Probate Judges, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., the Hancock Women’s Club, the Hancock County NAACP, and the Democratic Club. She also served on the board of the Ebony International Learning Academy and Preparatory School. She is also the recipient of the Higher Education Award, and was profiled in the book Black Firsts: 4,000 Ground-Breaking and Pioneering Historical Events.
Ingram passed away on June 5, 2020.
Edith Jacqueline Ingram was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on January 25, 2006.