Joe Biden was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, the son of Joseph R. Biden, Sr. and Catherine Eugenia “Jean” Finnegan. He was the first of four siblings and is of English and Irish Catholic heritage. He has two brothers, James Brian Biden and Francis W. Biden, and a sister, Valerie (Biden) Owens. The Biden family moved to Claymont, Delaware when Biden was 10 years old, and he grew up in suburban New Castle County, Delaware, where his father was a car salesman. In 1961, Biden graduated from Archmere Academy in Claymont, Delaware and, in 1965, from the University of Delaware in Newark, where he double majored in history and political science. He went on to receive his Juris Doctor (J.D.) from Syracuse University College of Law in 1968, and was admitted to the Delaware Bar in 1969.
In 1966, while in law school, Biden married Neilia Hunter. They had three children, Joseph R. “Beau” Biden III, Robert Hunter, and Naomi Christina. His wife and infant daughter died in a car accident shortly after he was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1972. His two young sons, Beau and Hunter, were seriously injured in the accident, but both eventually made full recoveries. Biden was sworn into office from their bedside. Persuaded not to resign in order to care for them, Biden began the practice of commuting an hour and a half each day on the train from his home in the Wilmington suburbs to Washington, DC, which he continues to do.
In 1977, Biden married Jill Tracy Jacobs. They have one daughter, Ashley, and are members of the Roman Catholic Church. In February 1988, after suffering from neck pains, Biden was hospitalized and underwent lifesaving surgery to correct two brain aneurysms, one of which began leaking.The hospitalization and recovery kept him from the Senate for seven months.
Biden’s elder son, Beau, was a partner in the Wilmington law firm of Bifferato, Gentilotti, Biden & Balick, LLC and was elected Attorney General of Delaware in 2006. He is a captain in the Delaware Army National Guard, where he serves in the Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps. He is set to be deployed to Iraq in October, 2008. Biden’s younger son, Hunter, works as a lawyer in Washington, D.C., serves on the board of directors of Amtrak, and previously worked in the Commerce Department.
Since 1991, Biden has also served as an adjunct professor at the Widener University School of Law, where he teaches a seminar on constitutional law.
United States Senator