H-Law has circulated the names of the American Society for Legal History’s three new Honorary Fellows and the text of the citations for each, read at the annual meeting on Saturday. The three new Honorary Fellows are Hendrik Hartog, Princeton University; Diane Kirkby, La Trobe University; and John McLaren, an emeritus professor at the University of Victoria. Their citations follow after the jump.
The Honors Committee is elated to recommend the election of Hendrik Hartog, Princeton’s Class of 1921 Bicentennial Professor in the history of American Law and Liberty, as Honorary Fellow. We can think of no one who so nearly embodies the Society’s definition of honorary fellows as “scholars we admire, whom we aspire to emulate, and on whose shoulders we stand.”
Dirk Hartog received his A.B. in History from Carleton, his J.D. from NYU, and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Brandeis. His career has taken him from the law schools of Indiana and Wisconsin to the History Department at Princeton. He is the author of three books, editor of an additional three, and more than two dozen articles. With Tom Green, he edited the Society’s Studies in Legal History for a decade. He also played a pivotal role in creating and staffing the Society’s Hurst Institute.
As our reviewers stress, even his earliest work, now nearly forty years old, has proven extraordinarily influential. The Hartog corpus is distinctive for its range, depth and imagination. It ranges over sociolegal history, constitutional history (e.g., “The Constitution of Aspirations and ‘The Rights that Belong to Us All”) and jurisprudence (e.g., “Pigs and Positivism.”) While it focuses on the nineteenth century, Hartog’s conception of the nineteenth century is long and capacious! His first article in 1976 rooted the transformation of judicial government in “mundane legal business:…fornication cases, road building and repair, poor relief, and a host of other petty crimes and public concerns.” As always, Hartog foregrounded the untidy, domestic and local aspects of everyday life. (“I resonate to a certain kind of Dutch domestic scene in Dutch paintings,” he once explained. “The shaping images in my imagination may come from the kind of painting in which there’s the table, and there’s the mess on the table, and there are people quarreling or engaging in sexual banter on one side, and there’s a little child urinating into a pot in the corner.”) His first monograph, Public Property and Private Power: The Corporation of the City of New York in American Law, 1730-1870, provided a dazzling history of the law of municipal corporations and the public-private distinction. His second, Man and Wife in America: A History demonstrated the surprising role that the separations of ordinary and men and women played in shaping marriage law between the 1790s and 1950s. And his most recent one, Some Day This Will All Be Yours, placed what Hartog and other property professors like to call “the King Lear problem” in historical perspective by highlighting the fraught negotiations between family members over the care of the elderly in some 200 contested New Jersey cases from the late 1840s through the early 1950s.
His influence hasn’t been confined to our field. All historians of American race, culture, gender, sexuality, class, culture and society know his work. Barbara Welke calls him “our emissary to the field of history generally, making law legible, inviting others in.”
As impressive as his own work is his generosity in shaping that of others. Dirk is, quite simply, unsurpassed as a reader. He excelled as co-editor of the Series in Legal History, Tom Green says, in helping each author clarify “his subject, intentions and voice….As in all of his activities—and perhaps most notably in his nearly unrivaled success in graduate-student training—Dirk expected little thanks from his authors other than the kind of thanks reflected in their passing along the same devotion and service to the next generation.” At Madison and Princeton, Ken Mack observes, Dirk produced a stream of leading legal historians in law schools and history departments and served as the “key figure” in defining the career arc of “[l]iterally dozens and dozens of scholars.” What matters to him is helping his students figure out what they want to say instead of stamping them with his brand. Barbara Welke rightfully stresses that “one sees not just his generosity, but the capaciousness of his intellect in his legal history progeny who have themselves expanded the terrain of legal history and remade areas that we thought we knew with original prize-winning works of history in, to name a few, constitutional history, civil rights and liberties, South Asian legal history, the legal history of empire and colonialism, and the history of social welfare.”
Debts are important to Dirk Hartog. He has co-edited festschriften for two of his mentors, John Reid and Morton Keller. We in the Society are delighted to acknowledge our collective debt to him by nominating him as honorary fellow. We give the last word to Risa Goluboff: “I know that I speak for so many legal historians who have learned from Dirk the writer, Dirk the editor, and Dirk the teacher when I say that we stand on Dirk’s shoulders. It is Dirk who has lifted us up; it is Dirk who continues to make sure that we do not fall.”
The Honors Committee recommends Professor Diane Kirkby as an Honorary Fellow. As noted in one of the letters of support supplied to the Committee, "Professor Kirkby is one of Australia’s finest historians, and more pertinently, legal historians. Her interest is in social history, in which she is widely published. She has written ground breaking studies of workers in particular industries, especially maritime and bar work. This incorporates women’s and working class history. For her, this study has always involved the law. Her most entertaining article, about a boxing kangaroo, is just one example her study of the intersection between law and history. Together with Hilary Golder, Professor Kirkby was the co-author of the story about Mrs Mayne’s kangaroo. In 1891, Mrs Mayne sued for the price of the hire of her boxing kangaroo. She was met by a claim of the legal incapacity of a married woman. Can a wild animal be owned? Are kangaroos ferae naturae? Can a wife own anything, wild or not?"
Another letter of support notes how, "Kirkby’s importance to the field of legal history in Australia far exceeds that of an individual scholar. From the moment of her arrival at La Trobe University in 1982, Kirkby became a leading force in the then-fledgling Law In History Conference (established the previous year). In 1984 she took over editorship of the Conference’s annual series of occasional publications – papers drawn from the Conference’s annual meeting – and produced three volumes of papers to add to the first volume edited by Ian Duncanson and myself. She played a leading role in the creation of the Australia & New Zealand Legal History Society in 1994 and helped to ensure that the society was established on a firm footing, serving as a member of the ANZLHS Executive Committee Member, 1994-96; as Vice-President, 1996-97; and as President for an unprecedented four years, 1997-2001. She helped bring the Australian Journal of Legal History into existence in 1995, and served on its editorial board for ten years. When that journal became inactive in 2005, she helped establish the ANZLHS e-journal to ensure some form of continued publishing outlet for the work of Australian legal historians. In 2013, when the Society decided to reestablish a print journal, it was to Diane Kirkby that all turned as editor. The first volume of the new journal, Law&History, appeared in 2014."
"Kirkby’s scholarly career has taken her into areas of historical and social scientific study stretching far beyond legal history. But her role in the field both as scholar and as gifted organizer has been instrumental in the establishment and guidance of Australian legal history. Just as the ASLH recognized Bruce Kercher several years ago as an indispensable scholar whose extraordinary work of archival retrieval and publication helped create the documentary basis for legal history in Australia, so it should recognize Diane Kirkby as an indispensable scholar whose organizational and editorial labors, no less than her individual scholarly research, have helped make Australian legal history what it is today."
The Honors Committee is pleased to recommend that John McLaren, the Lansdowne Professor of Law emeritus at the University of Victoria, be elected an Honorary Fellow of the American Society for Legal History. Professor McLaren is one of the founders of the vital, modern field of Canadian legal history.
Professor McLaren received his LL.B. from Queens College, Dundee in the University of St. Andrews in 1962, an LL.M. from University College, London in 1964, and a second LL.M. from the University of Michigan in 1970. He began his academic career in 1964 at the University of Saskatchewan, where he remained until he moved to the University of Windsor in 1971. There he became Dean of the Faculty of Law. Displaying what many scholars would consider a distracting talent for administration, he joined the Faculty of Law at the University of Calgary in 1975 as Dean and Professor of Law. He became the Lansdowne Professor of Law at the University of Victoria in 1987 and took emeritus status in 2006. He has also held visiting positions at the University of British Columbia, the Australian National University, and the University of Limerick. In 1997 the University of Calgary awarded him an honorary doctorate. He received the Ramon Hnatyshyn Medal from the Canadian Bar Association in 2005 for his contributions to law and legal scholarship, and in 2008 the University of Victoria awarded him the Craigdarroch Gold Medal for his life-long contributions to research.
Professor McLaren turned to legal history after nearly twenty years as a torts scholar and quickly made up for the lost time. In fact, tort law provided the bridge to legal history in an early article on “Nuisance and the Industrial Revolution: Some Lessons from Social History,” which was published simultaneously in Canada as part of a collection entitled Issues in Canadian Tort Law and in England in the Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, and which, in the estimation of Professor Douglas Hay of Osgoode Hall Law School and the York University Department of History (and an Honorary Fellow of the Society), “remains . . . the best single article on the topic.” From there his scholarship grew ever more wide-ranging, beginning with landmark articles and essays on the campaign for moral reform in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries in Canada, with a particular focus on how laws against prostitution and their enforcement were shaped by moral entrepreneurs, early feminists, and opponents of “white slavery.” These articles included, to list just a few, “Chasing the Social Evil: Moral Fervour and the Evolution of Canada’s Prostitution Laws” in the Canadian Journal of Law and Society, “‘White Slavers’: The Reform of Canada’s Prostitution Laws and Patterns of Enforcement, 1900-1920” in Criminal Justice History, and “Recalculating the Wages of Sin: The Social and Legal Construction of Prostitution, 1850-1920” in the Manitoba Law Journal, as well as chapters in various collections, such as “The Canadian Magistracy and the Anti-White Slavery Campaign” in Canadian Perspectives on Law and Society: Essays on Law and History and “Recalculating the Wages of Sin: The Social and Legal Construction of Prostitution, 1850-1920” in Canada’s Legal Inheritances. As Professor Jim Phillips of the University of Toronto notes in a letter in support of this recommendation, these pieces form a sustained examination of “a unique moment of (misplaced) faith in the transformative power of law.” They remain, in his estimation, “the standard work on the subject.”
Professor McLaren extended his study of marginalized and persecuted populations to include two immigrant groups–Chinese and the Doukhobors in British Columbia–and their conflicts with the state. His work on Chinese immigrants includes “The Early British Columbia Supreme Court and the ‘Chinese Question’: Echoes of the Rule of Law” in the Manitoba Law Journal, and “Race and the Criminal Justice System in British Columbia, 1892-1920: Constructing Chinese Crimes” in a volume of Essays in the History of Canadian Law. His most sustained treatment was (and continues to be) of the Doukhobors–a pacifist community of Russian dissenters that rejected secular government and was persecuted in Russia and that emigrated to Canada at the close of the nineteenth century with financial assistance from Leo Tolstoy and from British and American Quakers and Russian anarchists in the largest single mass migration in Canadian history. They settled in Saskatchewan before most moved to British Columbia. Their radical pacifism, refusal to swear oaths of allegiance, communal living, and rejection of secular authority provoked repeated conflict with the Canadian and provincial governments, which in the case of a radical splinter group included setting fire to and bombing public buildings and rail lines, with some protests extending into the 1970s. Professor McLaren began his study of the Doukhobors with an article on “Wrestling Spirits: The Strange Case of Peter Verigin” in Canadian Ethnic Studies, followed by other articles and book chapters, such as “The Despicable Crime of Nudity: Law, the State, and Civil Protest among Sons of Freedom Doukhobors, 1899-1935” in Journal of the West, “Creating ‘Slaves of Satan’ or ‘New Canadians’?: The Law, Education, and the Socialization of Doukhobor Children” in a volume of Essays in the History of Canadian Law, “The State, Child Snatching, and the Law: The Seizure and Indoctrination of Sons of Freedom Children in British Columbia” in Regulating Lives: Historical Essays on the State, Society, the Individual, and the Law, and “The Failed Experiments: The Demise of Doukhobor Systems of Communal Property Landholding in Saskatchewan and British Columbia, 1899-1999” in Despotic Dominion. Professor Philip Girard of Osgoode Hall Law School (and himself the first Canadian Honorary Fellow fo the Society) describes Professor McLaren’s work in these fields as “foundational.” Professor Phillips attests that Professor McLaren’s sustained work on the Doukhobors has ade him “a pioneer in the study of political and religious repression and toleration in Canadian history, bringing vividly to life the way law has been used to impose uniformity of belief and behaviour among religious, and to some extent ethnic, minorities.”
As foundational as this work has been, Professor McLaren, as Professor Girard notes, is always “exploring new sources and asking new questions, and always searching for a broader canvas.” He has extended his purview to include comparative and imperial dimensions to his work. His earliest foray in this direction was his co-edited volume, Law for the Elephant, Law for the Beaver: Essays in the Legal History of the North American West in 1992, which remains a landmark of comparative Canadian-United States legal history. More recently, his interests have expanded, as Professor Phillips notes, to “include seeing Canada as part of a far-flung empire, and to analysing the role played by British law and British institutions in not only governing that empire but also seeking to spread the gospel of British civilisation and values.” The centerpiece of this project is his recent (2011) monograph, Bewigged, Bothered, and Bewildered: British Colonial Judges on Trial, 1800-1900, in which he ranges across Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Caribbean, and Africa to reveal previously-unseen perspectives on the interconnections among disparate parts of the British empire.
Law for the Elephant, Law for the Beaver created the template for Professor McLaren’s ever-widening scholarly contributions to comparative, Commonwealth, and imperial legal history. In volume after volume, he has collaborated with other, often younger, scholars to bring together scholars from around the Commonwealth, the United States, and elsewhere, to address questions of comparative legal history such as imperial land law and the role of law and concepts of property in white settler societies and their implications for aboriginal societies. These co-edited volumes, which invariably are anchored by original contributions from Professor McLaren, include Religious Conscience, the State, and the Law: Historical Contexts and Contemporary Significance (1998), Land and Freedom: Law, Property Rights, and the British Diaspora (2001), Regulating Lives: Historical Essays on the State, Society, the Individual, and the Law (2002), Despotic Dominion: Law and the History of Property Rights in British Settler Societies (2005), and Legal Histories of the British Empire: Laws, Engagements, and Legacies (2014).
Professor McLaren’s scholarship across seventy-five articles and book chapters, eight co-edited volumes, and one monograph is impressive in its own right and amply merits electing him an Honorary Fellow of the Society. The many co-edited volumes, together with his earlier role as a founder of the Canadian Journal of Law and Society, speak to another qualification for the honor. Professor McLaren builds fields of scholarship. He organizes conferences, connects scholars from different fields and disciplines, encourages younger scholars, and brings the best of their work together in edited volumes that define new sub-fields and spur new scholarship. He did this for the then-emerging field of Canadian legal history nearly thirty years ago, as he has more recently for Australasia and the Commonwealth. Even now, in “retirement,” he is a key organizer of “legal history of the British empire” conferences in Singapore and Ghana. If Honorary Fellows of the Society are the scholars on whose shoulders we stand, Professor McLaren has actively lifted scores of other scholars to his shoulders as they join with him in pursuing new and invariably important questions in legal history.
In sum, Professor McLaren has shaped the broad discipline of legal history and influenced the work of others. The Committee believes that he amply merits election as an Honorary Fellow of the Society. On this, we will let Professor Girard have the last word:
In short, John McLaren’s contributions to the fields of Canadian, comparative, Commonwealth and imperial legal history have been unique, innovative, extensive, and always stimulating. In addition to conducting his own research and writing at a very high level of excellence, his contributions to the community of scholars working in legal history and to the discipline at large have been stellar and path-breaking. He is eminently worthy of the high honor for which he is being nominated.