Annabel Matthews, a lawyer and government tax expert, was the first woman to serve on the United States Board of Tax Appeals. Although not a collegiate member of Phi Mu (she attended Brenau College before the installation of Mu Chapter), she was initiated as an alumna. Throughout her lifetime, Annabel was vocal about the role and position of women in the work force, especially in the federal government.
Annabel Matthews was born in Culloden, Georgia on December 31, 1883, the daughter of Alphonso Houghton and Augusta Louisa (Vaughan) Matthews. In 1898, at the age of fourteen, she entered Brenau College in Gainesville, Georgia and graduated with an AB degree in 1901. She was a teacher in the Gainesville and Thomasville public schools from 1901-1914 before becoming a technical clerk in the income tax division of the Bureau of Internal Revenue in Washington, D. C.
She advanced steadily within the Bureau and, in 1918, began studying law at night at Washington College of Law. In 1921, at the age of 35, she graduated with honors and was admitted to the Washington bar. She became the second woman to serve as an attorney in the general counsel's office of the Bureau in 1925 and was sent as the assistant to the American delegate to two League of Nations Conferences on double taxation (London, 1927; Geneva, 1928). In 1930, President Hoover appointed Annabel to fill an unexpired term on the United States Board of Tax Appeals, making her the first woman to serve on the Board. The Board's hearings were held throughout the United States, and Annabel presided over many of them, earning her the title of "Judge" Matthews. Not being reappointed to the Board in 1936, Annabel returned to the chief counsel's office of the Bureau of Internal Revenue, where she continued to work until 1944 when she retired from government work and entered private practice. President Truman appointed Annabel to the Fair Employment Board of the Civil Service Commission in 1948 where she served until 1954.
During her lifetime Annabel was a trustee of Brenau College and held active memberships in the American Bar Association, the Women's Bar Association (D.C. chapter, President 1937-1939), League of Women Voters (D.C.), American Association of University Women, and the Phi Delta Delta legal fraternity. Annabel Matthews died in Washington, D.C. on March 24, 1960 at the age of 76.