Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Supporting Legal History

As we near the end of the year, I hope that readers will remember legal history in end-of-the-year charitable giving. If you would like to support legal history, here are some ideas:

  • Perhaps the most direct way to support legal history is to support the American Society for Legal History. The ASLH is a membership organization supporting all fields of legal history. The organization currently has an endowment campaign to provide more solid financial footing for its many activities. For information about the ASLH, go here, and for information on how to contribute, click on the link on the left side of the page for "endowment campaign."

  • Archives in the gulf coast of the United States were affected by Hurricane Katrina, and are still rebuilding. One institution in need of support that has been a resource for a number of legal history-related works is the New Orleans Public Library. According to Diana Williams, the current Berger Fellow in Legal History at Harvard Law School, records in the Louisiana Division of the NOPL are "among the most important of New Orleans’ historic treasures, include municipal records dating back to 1769, as well as Orleans Parish court records dating back to 1804. They contain rich and scarcely tapped sources for the study of enslaved and free people of color." An appeal last year from Williams for support for NOPL, with helpful links and information, is here. Updated information and links for the library foundation are here. The direct link for on-line donations is here.

  • Another way to remember legal history is to remember legal historians we have lost this year. Most well-known is Kermit Hall, President of SUNY Albany and a long-time, widely admired legal historian who died unexpectedly in August at the age of 61. Contributions in memory of Kermit can be made to the Kermit L. Hall and Phyllis A. Hall Inaugural Scholarship Fund, a need-based scholarship fund at SUNY Albany.

  • Another unexpected loss this year was Kenneth Cmiel, University of Iowa, who passed away in February at the age of 51. Ken's newest, unfinished work is most well-known among historians of human rights. His work will be remembered at a panel at the American Historical Assn. meeting in Atlanta in January. A memorial fund for his young children has been established. Contributions can be sent to: Cmiel Children Memorial Fund, UI Community Credit Union, P.O. Box 2240, Iowa City, IA 52244-2244.