Monday, November 30, 2020

Economic History job at Vanderbilt

 [We share the following job ad.]

Assistant Professor of History, Tenure-track 

Nashville, TN 

Open Date:  Oct 15, 2020 

Close Date: Dec 15, 2020 

Position Description 

Economic History. The Department of History at Vanderbilt University invites applications for a tenure-track assistant professor with excellent research on any topic within an economic framework, including (but not limited to), political economy, the history of commodities, trade networks, business history, free and unfree labor, finance, economic thought, consumer cultures, and the global development of capitalism. We are open to all approaches but have particular interest in those engaging in legal and regulatory regimes and/or comparative/global work. We will consider work on any chronological or geographic specialty but have particular interest in candidates working on periods before the twentieth century and on regions outside the United States.

Applicants should upload a letter of interest, a complete curriculum vitae, statement of research interests, a statement of teaching philosophy and diversity and inclusion, and three letters of recommendation via Interfolio at this link: The successful applicant must have completed the Ph.D. by August 16, 2021.  Review of applications will begin on December 15, 2020.  Files will continue to be accepted until the search is complete. Inquiries about the position may be sent to Professor Jefferson Cowie (

Vanderbilt University has a strong institutional commitment to recruiting and retaining an academically and culturally diverse community of faculty. Minorities, women, individuals with disabilities, and members of other underrepresented groups, in particular, are encouraged to apply. Vanderbilt is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer.

--Mitra Sharafi

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Open Access to Legal History in Cambridge Journals

Until the end of the year, Cambridge University Press is making available for free many legal history articles published in Legal History Review and other journals.  Check it out here.  Cambridge is also offering its 30-percent conference discount on selected book titles, here

--Dan Ernst

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Weekend Roundup

  • Jackson and Fite (HST)
    Tammy Williams, archivist and social media coordinator at the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum, has published “It is history and it is fascinating”: Katherine Fite and the Nuremberg War Crime Trials, 1945, on Pieces of History, the blog of the National Archives. The post reproduces the “vividly descriptive letters" Fite, a 1930 graduate of the Yale Law School and Assistant to the Legal Advisor of the State Department, wrote while serving on Robert H. Jackson’s legal staff at Nuremberg.  H/t: Kasia Solon Cristobal/Michael Widener.
  • Justice Stephen Breyer, Christina Ponsa-Karus, and Aziz Rana “gathered in cyberspace to honor the contributions of the late Appeals Court Judge Juan Torruella, best known for his writings about the Insular Cases”  (St. John, V.I. Source).
  • Lael Weinberger, the Olin-Searle-Smith Fellow in Law at Harvard Law School, reviews John G. Turner’s They Knew They Were Pilgrims: Plymouth Colony and the Contest for American Liberty, in the New Rambler Review.
  •  ICYMI: Linda Kerber hailed as “Iowa's ‘Van Allen of the Humanities’” (Cedar Rapids Gazette). Eric Muller on why a president cannot "grant" him- or herself a pardon (The Atlantic).  Western's notice of Rande Kostal's Reid Prize for Laying Down the Law (Western News).
Weekend Roundup is a weekly feature compiled by all the Legal History bloggers.  

Friday, November 27, 2020

Laske's "Law, Language and Change"

Caroline Laske, a research fellow at the Ghent Legal History Institute (Belgium) and the holder of a Heinz Heinen fellowship at the Bonn Centre for Dependency and Slavery Studies (Germany), has published Law, Language and Change: A Diachronic Semantic Analysis of Consideration in the Common Law (Brill, 2020):

In this monograph, Caroline Laske traces the advent of consideration in English contract law, by analysing the doctrinal development, in parallel with the corresponding terminological evolution and semantic shifts between the fourteenth and nineteenth centuries. It is an innovative, interdisciplinary study, showcasing the value of taking a diachronic corpus linguistics-based approach to the study of legal change and legal development, and the semantic shifts in the corresponding terminology. The seminal application in the legal field of these analytical methodologies borrowed from pragmatic linguistics goes beyond the content approach that legal research usually practices and it has allowed for claims of semantic change to be objectified. This ground-breaking work is pitched at scholars of legal history, law & language, and linguistics; and is of importance to scholars of private law working on promises and contract.
–Dan Ernst

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Whewell on British consuls in Asia

 Emily Whewell (Max Planck Institute for European Legal History) published the following article last year: "Legal Mediators: British consuls in Tengyue (western Yunnan) and the Burma-China frontier region, 1899-1931," Modern Asian Studies 54:1 (Jan. 2020), 95-122. Here's the abstract: 

British consuls were key agents for the British imperial presence in China from 1842 to 1943. Their role, which was to perform administrative duties that protected the rights of British subjects, is most prominently remembered in connection with the east coast. Here larger foreign communities and international maritime trade necessitated their presence. However, British consuls were also posted to the far southwest province of Yunnan and the Burma-China frontier region. This article sheds light on the role of consuls working in the little-known British consular station of Tengyue, situated close to the Burma-China frontier. Using the reports of locally stationed consuls and Burmese frontier officials, it argues that consuls were important mediators of legal power operating at the fringes of empire for British imperial and colonial interests in this region. They represented British and European subjects, and were mediators in legal disputes between British Burma and China, helping to smooth over Sino-British relations and promoting British Burmese sovereign interests. The article serves to shift our attention from the British presence in China on the east coast to the southwestern frontier, demonstrate the importance of consular legal duties, and emphasize the trans-imperial nature of British legal roles across this region.

Further information is available here.

--Mitra Sharafi 

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Grisinger Reviews Works on Vertical Files and Paper Shredders

You have to be a certain kind of legal historian to have your imagination fired by tabbed file folders, but, hell, I’m one too.  Over at Jotwell, Joanna Grisinger, Northwestern University, writes on two articles, Craig Robertson, Granular Certainty, The Vertical Filing Cabinet, and the Transformation of Files, 4 Administory 76 (2019); and Marianne Constable, The Paper Shredder: Trails of Law, 23 Law Text Culture 276 (2019).  Professor Grisinger writes:

"The Last of the NRA" (1938)(LC)
Anyone who has done archival research has grappled with someone else’s file organization—are the papers you seek filed chronologically? By correspondent? By topic? By some other method inscrutable to the outsider? Does the filing system reflect the thinking of your research subject, of a secretary or clerk, or of a later archivist seeking to impose order on chaos? Finally, will the files actually contain the documents you’re hoping to find? Two recent articles take seriously the prosaic technologies of file storage, on the one hand, and file destruction, on the other, explicating the history of the tabbed file folder, the filing cabinet, and the paper shredder. These technologies are crucial to the contemporaneous operation of the bureaucratic process, and, of course, silently shape how we write history from those files. [More. ]
–Dan Ernst

Thomas's "Question of Freedom"

William G. Thomas III, the John and Catherine Angle Chair in the Humanities and Professor of History at the University of Nebraska, has published A Question of Freedom: The Families Who Challenged Slavery from the Nation’s Founding to the Civil War (Yale University Press):

For over seventy years and five generations, the enslaved families of Prince George’s County, Maryland, filed hundreds of suits for their freedom against a powerful circle of slaveholders, taking their cause all the way to the Supreme Court. Between 1787 and 1861, these lawsuits challenged the legitimacy of slavery in American law and put slavery on trial in the nation’s capital.  
Piecing together evidence once dismissed in court and buried in the archives, William Thomas tells an intricate and intensely human story of the enslaved families (the Butlers, Queens, Mahoneys, and others), their lawyers (among them a young Francis Scott Key), and the slaveholders who fought to defend slavery, beginning with the Jesuit priests who held some of the largest plantations in the nation and founded a college at Georgetown. A Question of Freedom asks us to reckon with the moral problem of slavery and its legacies in the present day.
The New York Times review, which hails the book as "a rich, roiling history that Thomas recounts with eloquence and skill," is here.

--Dan Ernst

Gordon Named ASLH Honorary Fellow

Robert W. Gordon (SLS)
[The third and final posting of citations for the new Honorary Fellows of the American Society for Legal History is for Robert W. Gordon.  Amalia Kessler of the Honors Committee read Professor Gordon’s; we ought to have mentioned that Bruce Mann, a past president of the ASLH, read the citations for Professors Brand and Scott.  DRE]

It gives me enormous personal and professional pleasure to announce that my teacher and now colleague Robert W. Gordon, Professor of Law at Stanford University and the Chancellor Kent Professor of Law and Legal History (Emeritus) at Yale, is being named an Honorary Fellow of the ASLH.  Through his extraordinarily influential scholarship and his remarkable generosity as a mentor, Professor Gordon has had a profound, transformative, and enduring influence on the field of legal history.  

Gordon completed his law degree at Harvard in 1971.  Thereafter, he went on to assume professorships at a series of excellent universities-SUNY Buffalo, Wisconsin, Stanford, and Yale.  So too, he has held visiting professorships at top institutions around the globe, such as Harvard, Oxford, Toronto, and the European University Institute.  He has given on the order of two dozen named lectures at leading universities and been awarded a broad range of prestigious fellowships.  A deeply respected expert on legal ethics and the legal profession, he has served as a member of various task forces and advisory boards focused on such matters.  And his service to the field of legal history has been especially extensive.  Among many other activities in this arena, he served as a past president of the ASLH.
Professor Gordon has published more than 80 articles, essays, and book chapters.  He has also published a number of edited volumes and is working on two book manuscripts.  His writings have spanned a variety of topics, including the history of the legal profession and contracts.  But he is most widely known for his highly influential essays on legal history and historiography.
Perhaps first and foremost within this remarkable groups of essays is "Critical Legal Histories."  In an extraordinary survey of myriad past approaches to understanding the relationship between law and society through time, Professor Gordon highlights their otherwise neglected commonality-namely, a "functionalist" conception of law as emerging to address social "needs," which are naively (or cynically) imagined as somehow pre-existing and thus pre-political.  Demolishing such functionalism, Gordon calls instead for an approach to history that respects the many contingencies in legal-historical development and attends to the ways that law and society are mutually constitutive.  It is impossible to overstate the extraordinary influence of these ideas in shaping the legal history scholarship produced over the last forty or so years, and not only by scholars of U.S. legal history.  Indeed, even as efforts have been made to question the paradigm of context and contingency, it remains quite clearly the reigning paradigm-or as one colleague puts it, the nature of Professor Gordon's influence has been such that we all "operate in a Harold Bloomian anxiety of influence."
Professor Gordon is also widely recognized as a, if not the, preeminent historian of the legal profession in the United States.  Among the many distinctive virtues of his work in this arena is his tracing of the interconnections between on-the-ground efforts to pursue professional reform, on the one hand, and high legal thought, on the other.  So too, it bears emphasis that his scholarship is widely admired not only for its substantive contributions, but also for its inimitable style.  As another colleague writes, Professor Gordon is "our field's greatest essayist," whose "vintage . . . aperçus . . . make one laugh aloud and nod one's head at Bob's wisdom.  No one is more fun to read.  No one is smarter."  

Professor Gordon's remarkable influence on the field of legal history, however, extends well beyond his scholarship.  He has played a key role in training an incredible number of people in this (virtual) room, amounting to two or even three generations of legal historians.  And they all both admire and adore him.  He is always open to new ideas and to new people-and while he might not always agree with the ideas, he is unstinting in his willingness (and eagerness) to engage with them, respectfully and thoroughly.  Indeed, as all in his wide orbit know, he spends untold hours on activities that do not earn a line on the CV but that mean everything in terms of creating and sustaining a vibrant and welcoming intellectual community.  He teaches numerous one-on-one directed reading and research classes, comments extensively on papers and dissertation chapters, and writes a near endless stream of recommendation letters.  And he does all of this in a way that combines his unique, Gordian mix of great generosity of spirit, on the one hand, and hard-headed, trenchant critique, on the other.  The end result is that the beneficiaries of his wisdom are always lifted up-and in all possible senses.

For lifting us all, and the field of legal history as a whole, we are thrilled to welcome Professor Gordon as an Honorary Fellow of the Society.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Eves on Mort D’Ancestor and Collusive Conveyances

Collusive Litigation in the Early Years of the English Common Law: The Use of Mort D’Ancestor for Conveyancing Purposes c. 1198–1230 by William Eves, University of St. Andrews, currently is open access in the Journal of Legal History:

The extent to which real actions such as mort d’ancestor were used collusively for conveyancing purposes in the early years of the English common law is subject to debate. This article first discusses why parties to a transfer of land might engage in collusive litigation, before surveying the existing literature on the question of how collusive suits can be identified, and the suggestions which have been made as to the prevalence of collusive litigation in the late-twelfth and early-thirteenth centuries. It then discusses a method which may be used to provide a more precise answer to this question, and employs this method to uncover the extent to which mort d’ancestor could have been used collusively in the period c.1198–1230. It concludes with a suggestion that this method could be used in relation to other early common law actions to further our understanding of litigation and conveyancing in the period.

--Dan Ernst

Scott Named ASLH Honorary Fellow

Joan Wallach Scott (IAS)
 [We continue our posting of the citations, prepared by the Honors Committee of the American Society for Legal History, for the three legal historians named Honorary Fellows of the ASLH at its November 2020 meeting.  Today’s honoree is Joan Wallach Scott.  DRE]

Our next Honorary Fellow is Joan Wallach Scott, emeritus professor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey.  Professor Scott is a transformative scholar of French social and labor history, the history of gender and feminism, and the history of civil liberties in the United States and in France. 

Professor Scott received her B.A. from Brandeis University in 1962 and her Ph.D. in history from the University of Wisconsin in 1969.  She began her teaching career at the University of Illinois, Chicago, and from there moved to Northwestern University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Brown University, where she was the founding director of the Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women.  In 1985 she joined the Institute for Advanced Study, where she was Harry F. Linder Professor in the School of Social Science.

Through a dozen monographs, another dozen edited volumes, and articles and book chapters too numerous to count, Professor Scott has challenged the foundations of conventional historical practice, including the nature of historical evidence and historical experience and the role of narrative in the writing of history.  Her challenges have repeatedly won recognition from her colleagues in the profession.  The American Historical Association alone has bestowed four awards on her, starting with the Herbert Baxter Adams Prize in 1974 for her first book, The Glassworkers of Carmaux:  French Craftsmen and Political Action in a 19th-Century City; followed by the Joan Kelly Memorial Prize in 1989 for her book, Gender and the Politics of History; the Nancy Lyman Roelker Mentorship Award in 1995; and the Award for Scholarly Distinction in 2008.  She holds honorary degrees from universities in the United States and Europe, and in 1999 the Hans Sigrist Foundation at the University of Bern awarded her its prize for her groundbreaking work in gender history.  The influence of her work is truly international-her books and even some of her articles have been translated into multiple languages.

Professor Scott may not be a legal historian, but scholars who study the legal history of gender, feminist legal thought, or the legal history of secularism or of academic freedom-to take four core areas of modern legal historical scholarship-could not imagine their scholarship without her powerful and inescapable presence.  For many of us in legal history, she is best known as the author of a series of path-breaking articles on methodology in history, which have had immense impact on our field as well as on others.

Taking just the legal history of gender, her work has transformed the practices of nearly everyone who works in the field.  Her now-classic article, 'Gender:  A Useful Category of Historical Analysis"-in which she argued that studying gender explains not only women's history, but history generally-challenged the reigning conventions in women's history and continues to inspire innovative research.  Without question, engagement with her scholarship has deepened what legal historians do.

Professor Scott's survey of the history of French feminism opened up the history of feminism to legal historians.  Beginning with her book, Only Paradoxes to Offer:  French Feminists and the Rights of Man, she has explored the gendering of citizenship and rights in modern representative democracies.  Her demonstration that the concept of citizenship was from the start gendered as male and defined against a female "other" illuminated the dilemmas at the heart of rights claims, such as the paradox of women claiming "the rights of man."  In examining the continuing difficulties faced by feminists in their struggle for equality, her analysis has assisted scholars and activists focused on women, people with disabilities, and members of racial, ethnic, and sexual minority groups.

Her interest in the ways in which difference poses problems for democratic practice continued in subsequent books-most notably Parité: Sexual Equality and the Crisis of French Universalism and The Politics of the Veil.  Her work on the veil enmeshed her as a willing and provocative combatant in legal controversies both in France and the United States about the meanings of secularism. Her careful analyses of the headscarf controversies in France became a model of how to explore such issues.  Writ large, her scholarship traces the limits of liberalism, whether among French feminists or the American historical profession.  Her work has made her an important voice for academic freedom.

Professor Joan Scott has also been an active and generous citizen of the profession.  The center she created at Brown became a site for exploring feminist theory by historians and others in the humanities and social sciences who until that point had been mostly hostile to social theory.  At the Institute for Advanced Study, she brought in generations of younger scholars, encouraged them, and guided them, as her work has guided so many others, legal historians included.  

Professor Scott has always been a challenging presence.  She has been described-admiringly-as spiky and uncompromising.  Her work has often been controversial, good both to argue over and engage and argue with.  Yet, it has always been essential.  She does not need our accolades, but we have needed her and are grateful for what she has taught us.  We are pleased and honored to welcome her as an Honorary Fellow of the Society.

Ross on Bird on freedom of press and speech

At The New Rambler Review, Trevor Ross (Dalhousie University) has reviewed Wendell Bird's new book, The Revolution in Freedoms of Press and Speech: From Blackstone to the First Amendment and Fox’s Libel Act (Oxford University Press, 2020). Here is the essay's intro: 

John Milton saw no inconsistency in simultaneously arguing for “the liberty of unlicensed printing” and declaring that “mischievous and libellous” books ought to be burnt. Licensing or pre-publication censorship was illegitimate, he believed, because it did not involve the due process of law. It accorded the licenser the discretion to decide a writer’s freedom to publish and thus denied the writer the opportunity to exercise free will and face the consequences of this exercise before “the hazard of law and penalty.” By contrast, post-publication censorship conducted according to existing laws did not, in Milton’s view, prevent the exercise of free will but rather safeguarded it. It was a transparent mechanism by which the state punished sowers of discord, lies, and superstition whose work threatened the individual’s free will by inciting violence or inviting tyranny.

Further information is available here.

--Mitra Sharafi

Monday, November 23, 2020

Witt Reviews Holdren's "Injury Impoverished"

John Fabian Witt, Yale Law School, has posted Radical Histories/Liberal Histories in Work Injury Law, a review forthcoming in the American Journal of Legal History of Nate Holdren’s Injury Impoverished: Workplace Accidents, Capitalism, and Law in the Progressive Era:

Nate Holdren has written a brilliant, impassioned, and intellectually stimulating book on the legal history of industrial accidents. According to Holdren, work injuries were at their core a form of labor exploitation. He describes the law of work accidents as a machinery of injustice that bolstered the legitimacy of a violent and inhuman capitalist system. He fiercely critiques the workers’ compensation reforms enacted by progressive reformers a century ago as legitimating a form of systematic labor violence. He insists on recognizing and attending to the dignity of each accident victim, both in the content of his argument and as a matter of literary form. Injury Impoverished is a welcome if unsettling rebuke to complacent accounts of the field, perhaps my own among them. But Holdren’s analysis also raises many questions. Holdren attributes little value to the dramatically safer workplaces of the middle of the twentieth century. His cautious admiration for the litigation system of the years before workers’ compensation rests on a fantastical conception of the way 19th-century tort law actually worked. He calls for an impossibly demanding form of "justice as recognition" from the law. He misses the ways in which workers co-opted new forms of accident law and turned them to their own interests. And his single-minded focus on commodification and the point of production leads him to discount the surrounding political and legal institutions that shaped the social meaning of work injuries.

--Dan Ernst

Davies on the Mann Act's Marbury Moment

Ross E. Davies, George Mason University Antonin Scalia Law School, has posted Who Cares What Congress Thinks? Not James Mann: The Mann Act’s Marbury Moment, which appears as 10 Journal of Law 105 (2020):

James Mann (LC)
In Caminetti v. United States, the U.S. Supreme Court employed a severely puritanical approach — on the facts and on the law — to statutory interpretation. Conversely, the opinion for the Court in Caminetti triggered an intriguingly indulgent legislative-judicial exchange about the role of the courts in statutory interpretation. This little essay begins with a quick look at Caminetti and the statute it interpreted, proceeds through a similarly speedy examination of that indulgent post-decision exchange, and concludes with a few questions.
--Dan Ernst

Brand Named ASLH Honorary Fellow

 [This week, we will be posting the citations for the three legal historians named Honorary Fellows of the American Society for Legal History at its November 2020 meeting.  The first is Paul Brand.  DRE]

Our first Honorary Fellow is Paul Brand, emeritus Fellow at All Souls College, University of Oxford,

Paul Brand (ASLH)
and William W. Cook Global Law Professor at the University of Michigan.  Professor Brand is, in the estimation of his many admirers, the finest living historian of the constitution and law of medieval England.

Professor Brand took his B.A. and M.A. at Oxford and his D.Phil., also at Oxford, in 1974.  He was Assistant Keeper at what was then the Public Record Office in London from 1970 to 1976.  From 1976 to 1983 he was Lecturer in Law at University College, Dublin, and Research Fellow at the Institute for Historical Research in London from 1983 to 1993.  In 1997 he was appointed Senior Research Fellow at All Souls College, Oxford.  He is currently an emeritus Fellow of All Souls and, since 2013, William W. Cook Global Law Professor at the University of Michigan.  He has also held visiting positions at the law schools of Columbia University, Arizona State University, Emory University, and New York University, and at the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies.  He was elected a fellow of the British Academy in both the history and law sections in 1998 and of the Medieval Academy of America in 2012.  He has been a councillor of the Selden Society since 1990 and its vice-president since 2002.  He is an honorary bencher of the Middle Temple, London.

Professor Brand has been one of the leading and most prolific historians of English law for many decades.  In two monographs, eight volumes of edited original texts, and over eighty book chapters, articles, and essays, he has reshaped the field.  A scholar of remarkable range, he is as comfortable in the Anglo-Norman and Angevin periods as he is with the early Plantagenets.  He has also read deeply in the Anglo-Saxon and later medieval periods.  Within that span, it is the thirteenth-century-a period considered the most important formative period of English law-that he has made particularly his own.  Even his most distinguished colleagues in the field remark with no little awe at his total mastery of the sources.   He has used his vast knowledge to shape profoundly our knowledge of early legal literature, legal education, the emerging legal profession, the development of statute law, the relationship of developments in Ireland to the early common law, the relationship of Jews with the early common law, and the ways in which law shaped family relationships.

Professor Brand's monographs are fundamental reading on thirteenth-century English law.  His first, The Origins of the English Legal Profession, became the standard work on the subject, marked by its lucidity and deep learning.  His second, Kings, Barons and Justices:  The Making and Enforcement of Legislation in Thirteenth-Century England, explores the interaction of law, society, and politics in the era of baronial reform under Henry III.

Professor Brand's four volumes of Earliest English Law Reports for the Selden Society are truly magisterial.  They include all the earliest surviving law reports from 1268 to 1290-from Westminster, the eyres and assizes, and the Exchequer of the Jews-as well as the plea roll enrollments for the cases when they can be identified.  With these volumes Professor Brand made accessible the very first discussions of many aspects of the common law and revealed the first known occurrences of much of our legal terminology.

Professor Brand's scholarship is impressive in its own right and amply merits electing him an Honorary Fellow of the Society.  He has been honored with not one, but two festschriften, which attest to the fact that his immense and generously shared learning is a vital resource for all others working in the field.  This latter quality-his generously shared learning-speaks to another qualification for election as Honorary Fellow.  Professor Brand builds fields of scholarship.  He is an inspiration and great support for scholars young and old.  His generosity in commenting on the work of others is legendary.  In fact, every colleague whose opinion the committee solicited commented with more than a little awe on Professor Brand's remarkable unselfishness in helping others with their work.  If Honorary Fellows of the Society are the scholars on whose shoulders we stand, Professor Brand has actively lifted scores of other scholars to his shoulders in pursuing new and invariably important questions in legal history.

In sum, Professor Brand has shaped the broad discipline of legal history and influenced the work of others.  Throughout his long career, he has modeled how historians should engage with the law-understanding and respecting its technical complexity, but constantly aware of the social and political contexts within which that technical complexity worked and which constantly shaped what it could achieve.  He also models how historians should engage with their profession-publishing meticulous and path-breaking articles and books, editing and re-editing texts which allow others to expand the boundaries of the field, and engaging in collegial exchanges at gatherings large and small, with colleagues old and new, in a way which makes English legal history accessible and welcoming to all.

We are pleased and honored to welcome Professor Brand as an Honorary Fellow of the Society.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Surrency Prize to Tuori for "Narratives and Normativity"

We continue to recap the prizes and awards announced at this year's meeting of the American Society for Legal History. The Surrency Prize is "for the best article published in the Society’s journal, the Law and History Review, in the previous year." This year's prize went to Kaius Tuori (University of Helsinki) for “Narratives and Normativity: Totalitarianism and Narrative Change in the European Legal Tradition after World War II,” published in the May issue. The citation reads: 

Tuori’s article provides us with a fascinating account of the formation of the “European Idea” in the aftermath of World War Two, and its reliance on a claim to a shared European legal culture founded in Roman law – a particular feature of German scholarship. The centrality of law and legal institutions to European union has been a major theme of modern European legal history: Indeed, it was a major theme in the formation of our sister society, the European Society for Comparative Legal History. But in that identification of law and legal history with the European idea too little attention has been paid to narrative origins. Tuori remedies that gaping hole, and in the process shows how the postwar transition of scholars such as Franz Wieacker from active proponent of Nazi legal science to esteemed Europeanist and Roman law traditionalist resulted in a hybrid narrative of European legal history that incorporated elements of the Nazi narrative of Europe in the return to Roman law. The complicated process was nudged along too by German legal scholars in both geographical exile and “inner” exile who produced Roman law studies that served as counter-narratives to Nazi legal reformers’ efforts to replace the civil law tradition with national German law in the law curriculum and the law books. Tuori’s essay is not only a fine piece of research, it is compelling and important intellectual history.
The members of the Surrency Prize Committee were Cornelia Dayton (chair), Alison LaCroix, Kunal
Parker, Christopher Tomlins, and Laurie Wood. 

Congratulations to Kaius Tuori!

-- Karen Tani

Weekend Roundup

  • The Federal Judicial Center continues its essay series with this one on Myra Bradwell, by Christine Lamberson the Director of the Federal Judicial History Office.
  • Over at I-CONNect, Mario Alberto Cajas Sarria, Universidad Icesi, Colombia, on "The Colombian Model of Judicial Review of Legislation: A Predecessor to the Austrian Constitutional Court of 1920."
  • Ben Ferencz profiled here, and if you don’t know who he is, you should.
  • Catch these two new audio interviews at the New Books Network: Nurfadzilah Yahaya here (New Books in the Indian Ocean World) and Sam Childs Fury Daly here (New Books in African Studies).

 Weekend Roundup is a weekly feature compiled by all the Legal History bloggers.  

Friday, November 20, 2020

Prifogle on Migrant Labor and Female Social Networks in Midcentury Michigan

Emily Prifogle, University of Michigan Law School, has posted Legal Landscapes, Migrant Labor, and Rural Social Safety Nets in Michigan, 1942-1971:

In the 1960s, farmers pressed trespass charges against aid workers providing assistance to agricultural laborers living on the farmers’ private property. Some of the first court decisions to address these types of trespass, such as the well-known and frequently taught State v. Shack (1971), limited the property rights of farmers and enabled aid workers to enter camps where migrants lived. Yet there was a world before Shack, a world in which farmers welcomed onto their land rural religious groups, staffed largely by women from the local community, who provided services to migrant workers. This article uses Michigan as a case study to examine the informal safety net those rural women created and how it ultimately strengthened the very economic and legal structures that left agricultural workers vulnerable. From the 1940s through the 1960s, federal, state, and local law left large gaps in labor protections and government services for migrant agricultural laborers in Michigan. In response, church women created rural safety nets that mobilized local generosity and provided aid. These informal safety nets also policed migrant morality, maintained rural segregation, and performed surveillance of community outsiders, thereby serving the farmers’ goals of having a reliable and cheap labor force.

--Dan Ernst

Soares Pereira and Ridi on the "Invisible College of International Lawyers"

Luiza Leão Soares Pereira, University of Cambridge, and Niccolò Ridi, University of Liverpool, have posted Mapping the "Invisible College of International Lawyers" through Obituaries, which is forthcoming in the Leiden Journal of International Law

Since Oscar Schachter’s famous articulation of the concept, scholars have attempted to know more about the composition and functioning of the ‘invisible college of international lawyers’ which makes up our profession. They have done this though surveying public rosters of certain sections of the profession (arbitrators, International Court of Justice counsel), providing general anecdotal accounts about informal connections between members, or establishing certain individuals’ influence in the development of discrete legal concepts. Departing from these approaches, we use the obituaries published in the British Yearbook of International Law (1920-2017) to draw a map of the ‘invisible college of international lawyers’. Obituaries are a unique window into international law’s otherwise private inner life, unveiling professional connections between international lawyers and their shared career paths beyond a single academic or judicial institution. Employing network analysis, a method commonly used in social sciences to describe complex social phenomena such as this, we are able to demonstrate the ubiquity of informal networks whereby ideas move, and provide evidence of the community’s homogeneity. Exploring the connections between international lawyers and their shared characteristics in this novel way, we shed light on the features of the community and the impact individual personalities have on the law. These characteristics of the profession and its members may be obvious to insiders, but are seldom acknowledged. Graphic representation is a powerful tool in bolstering critiques for diversity and contestation of mainstream law-making narratives. More than an exercise in exhaustive mapping, we seek to take the ‘dead white men’ trope to an extreme, provoking the reader to question the self-image of the profession as an impersonal expert science.

--Dan Ernst.  H/t: JFW

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Stein Award to Wang for "Pirates and Publishers"

Another prize awarded annually by the ASLH is the Peter Gonville Stein Book Award, for "the best book in non-US legal history written in English." The 2020 winner, announced at the recent annual meeting, is Fei-Hsien Wang (Indiana University, Bloomington), for Pirates and Publishers: A Social History of Copyright in Modern China (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2019). The citation reads:

This is a fascinating study of an important but underanalyzed topic– the contested and dynamic process of the emergence of “modern” copyright law in China from the 1890s through the 1950s. Highly innovative in its analysis and magisterially executed, the book offers a brilliant interdisciplinary history of how authors, publishers, booksellers, and readers negotiated with one another. Uncovering market practices in the “new knowledge” economy, Wang maps the everyday life of copyright and piracy in relation to the emerging modern state and "new knowledge." This exceedingly rigorous, subtle, and well-researched book has major implications for understanding the interplay among law, society, culture, and politics not only in modern China but also in many places with similarly complicated experiences with modernity.

An honorable mention went to Elizabeth Papp Kamali (Harvard Law School) for Felony and the Guilty Mind in Medieval England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019).

Members of this year's Stein Award committee were Li Chen (University of Toronto), Rohit De (Yale University), Jessica Marglin (University of Southern California), Richard Roberts (Stanford University), Daniel Lord Smail (Harvard University), and David V. Williams (University of Auckland), with Matthew C. Mirow (Florida International University) as chair.

Congratulations to Fei-Hsien Wang and Elizabeth Papp Kamali!

-- Karen Tani

Reid Book Award to Kostal for "Laying Down the Law"

Here's word of another prize announced at this year's meeting of the American Society for Legal History: the John Phillip Reid Book Award, for "the best monograph by a mid-career or senior scholar, published in English in any of the fields defined broadly as Anglo-American legal history," went to Rande Kostal (Western Law), for Laying Down the Law: The American Legal Revolutions in Occupied Germany and Japan (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2019). Here is the citation: 

R. W. Kostal’s Laying Down the Law: The American Legal Revolutions in Occupied Germany and Japan (Harvard University Press, 2019) depicts the staggering tasks of remaking the legal landscape of defeated Axis powers after World War II. This project envisioned replacing fascist legal orders with liberal ones committed to individual rights and the rule of law. On this foundation, it was supposed, democracy could be built. Working with the self-interested jurists and bureaucrats of the defeated nations, Americans often operated, especially in the case of Japan, with only the vaguest notions of the legal systems they set out to reconstruct. Kostal contributes to the history of American foreign policy and to the comparative history of the rule of law by showing the accomplishments, hubris, and limitations of laying down the law. Perhaps the largest contribution of his well-researched and thoughtful book is to explore how and why liberal nations after World War II came to think they had the right to reshape in their own image the legal orders of conquered countries.

Members of the John Phillip Reid Book Award Committee were Margot Canaday, Deborah Rosen, Steven Wilf, John Witt, and Richard Ross (chair). 

Congratulations to Rande Kostal!  

-- Karen Tani

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Sutherland Prize to Newman for "Freedom-Seeking Slaves in England and Scotland, 1700-1780"

Here's another prize announcement from the recent meeting of the American Society for Legal History: the Sutherland Prize, for "the best article on the legal history of Britain and/or the British Empire published in the previous year," went to Simon P. Newman (University of Glasgow), for "Freedom-Seeking Slaves in England and Scotland, 1700–1780," English Historical Review 134 (2019) pp. 1136-1168. Here's the formal citation:

Simon P. Newman’s ‘Freedom-Seeking Slaves in England and Scotland, 1700–1780’ explores the experience of enslaved Africans who were brought to Britain in the eighteenth century from North America. It demonstrates that in a society where the legal status of slaves was unsettled - even after landmark cases such as Somerset v. Stewart - the lives of Africans brought to England remained precarious. Using newspaper accounts, legal records and visual sources, it shows how familiar the British were with the buying and selling of slaves or the use of the press to offer rewards for the return of those who had run away. In so doing, this
pathbreaking article sheds important new light on the experience of slave lives in England and Scotland, and how the very ambiguity of English law allowed owners to continue to treat as their enslaved servants as property.

An honorable mention went to Emily Kadens (Northwestern University) for "Cheating Pays," Columbia Law Review 119 (2019) pp. 527-589.

The members of this year's selection committee were Michael Lobban (chair), Paul Halliday, Allyson May, Paul McHugh, and Philip Stern.

-- Karen Tani

Preyer Awards to Padilla-Rodriguez, Ghosh

Earlier this summer we announced this year's ASLH Kathryn T. Preyer Scholars. Following the annual meeting, where both scholars presented their papers, we now have formal citations to share.

Ivon Padilla-Rodriguez, “Los Hijos Son La Riqueza Del Pobre:” Postwar Mexican Child Migration and the Making of Domestic (Im)migrant Exclusion, 1940-1965” 

Ivon Padilla-Rodriguez gives us a spellbinding sociolegal history of twentieth century child migrants at the borders outside and within the United States. Most scholars have focused on US officials’ concentration on single males after World War II. Padilla-Rodriguez employs overlooked sources to shine a spotlight on the many forms of rights violations Latinix children and their parents have endured between 1940 and 1965. She demonstrates the complicity of welfare and government officials in confining noncitizen children in detention center “cages” and in deporting them on “penal hell” ships. She shows, too, how those officials criminalized noncitizen and U.S. citizen children for their labor mobility and academic truancy and deprived them of access to a quality education. In Padilla-Rodriguez’s gifted hands, contemporary policies of immigration detention emerge as part of a long, sad history, rather than as a fresh departure.

Smita Ghosh, “Policing the ‘Police State’: Detention, Supervision, and Deportation During the Cold War” 

Smita Ghosh offers a fascinating account of the fight against the detention, supervision, and deportation of “red,” or communist, aliens. Her imaginative archival research shows how the American Committee for the Protection of the Foreign Born and its lawyers seized on the language of the Cold War to depict the McCarran Internal Security Act as a threat to the American “way of life” that would encourage “Gestapo-type” tactics and promote a “police state.” They also capitalized on the whiteness and assimilability of Eastern European aliens in the United States; their undeportable status because other countries refused to accept them; and the growing corpus of administrative law. The American Committee and its lawyers won the release of detained immigrants and limited the most draconian efforts to supervise nondeportable non-citizens. “Policing the ‘Police State’” provides a rare “success story” for “undesirable” aliens during the Cold War era and an extraordinarily illuminating prism on the expansion of state power.

The members of this year's Kathryn T. Preyer Scholars selection committee were Elizabeth Katz, Will Smiley, Anders Walker, Laura Kalman (Chair), Gautham Rao (ex officio), and the late Anne Fleming.

-- Karen Tani

Dudziak Digital Legal History Prize to Fraga for "They Came on Waves of Ink"

Here at LHB, the Mary Dudziak Digital Legal History Prize holds a special place in our hearts. The ASLH awards it annually to "an outstanding digital legal history project." This year's winner was Sean Fraga (University of Southern California) for “They Come on Waves of Ink.” In the words of the committee:

his project makes wonderfully creative and compelling use of digital technologies to bring a dusty legal source—a nineteenth-century federal ledger from the Puget Sound Customs District—to life. As his site explains, “But if the ledger is like a window onto the past, then its meticulous lines of data are like blinds, closed and shut tight. There is no plot here, no story; the characters float loose on a non-narrative sea. Digital analysis is a way of curling open the blinds—to see what lies on the other side.” By transcribing, analyzing, and visualizing thousands of scribbled ledger lines, Fraga enriches our understanding of the circuits of commerce and administrative power in the nineteenth-century Pacific Northwest. His site should inspire legal historians to use digital tools to re-imagine their sources and to uncover elusive historical connections that lie on the other side. 

Members of the selection committee were David S. Tanenhaus, chair (University of Nevada, Las Vegas); Deborah Dinner (Emory University School of Law); Kellen Funk (Columbia Law School); and Michael Willrich (ex officio, President-Elect).

Congratulations to Sean Fraga!

-- Karen Tani

Jane Burbank Article Prize to Premo & Yannakakis for "A Court of Sticks and Branches"

This year marked the first occasion on which the American Society for Legal History awarded the Jane Burbank Article Prize in global legal history. It is for "the best article in regional, global, imperial, comparative, or transnational legal history" published the previous year. The award went to Bianca Premo (Florida International University) and Yanna Yannakakis (Emory University) for “A Court of Sticks and Branches: Indian Jurisdiction in Colonial Mexico and Beyond,” American Historical Review, Vol. 124, No.1 (February 2019), pp. 28-55. Here's the formal citation:

“A Court of Sticks and Branches: Indian Jurisdiction in Colonial Mexico and Beyond” studies how jurisdiction was understood and produced by Mixtec actors in southern Mexico. Premo and Yannakakis’s case study of a land dispute between two rivaling villages show how communities adapted and translated imperial law and Iberian judicial practices into local understandings of jurisdiction, thereby inserting jurisdiction into the legal repertoires available to native peoples. The authors focus on a routine community dispute case that was never submitted to the jurisdiction of higher imperial authorities in Madrid or Rome, or even in the venerated General Indian Court of Mexico City. Rather, this dispute emerged in the outskirts of empire, and their study illuminates how people molded jurisdiction and litigiousness to their own cultural norms. Carefully researched and clearly written, readers see that jurisdiction at the edges of empire was much broader than indigenous people’s use of courts and recourse to the law. As the authors note, global legal orders may be studied through notarial documents and imperial codes, however "native subjects" built those orders—literally with "sticks and branches” on the muddy fields of a makeshift court in Teposcolula, Mexico.

The members of the Burbank Article Prize committee were Shaunnagh Dorsett, Michelle McKinley (Chair), Miranda Spieler, and Taisu Zhang.

Congratulations to Bianca Premo and Yanna Yannakakis!

-- Karen Tani

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Hopkins's "Ruling the Savage Periphery" at WHS

The next meeting of the Washington History Seminar, on Monday, November 23 at 4:00 pm ET, will be devoted to Ruling the Savage Periphery: Frontier Governance and the Making of the Modern State (Harvard University Press, 2020), by Benjamin Hopkins, George Washington University.  Elisabeth Leake, University of Leeds, Geraldine Davies Lenoble, Torcuato Di Tella University, and Benjamin Johnson, Loyola University, will comment.  Click here to register for the webinar or watch on the National History Center’s Facebook Page or the Wilson Center website.

[Professor Hopkins]  makes a bold claim about the modern global order and the central role "frontier" spaces have made in its construction. Arguing that the "frontier" is a practice rather than a place, Hopkins theorizes that the particular way states govern such spaces – he terms it "frontier governmentality" – presents a unique constellation of power defining states and their limits. Ranging from the Afghanistan-Pakistan borderlands to the Arizona desert to the Argentine pampas, Hopkins presents an ambitious and provocative global history with continuing purchase today.


 --Dan Ernst

Monday, November 16, 2020

Special issue: Challenging Women

A special issue on "Challenging Women" features research on women in British (and South Asian) legal history. Here's the line-up from the Women's History Review, vol.29, issue 4 (2020), edited by Judith Bourne and Caroline Morris, both of St. Mary's University, London

  • Judith Bourne and Caroline Morris, "Introducing Challenging Women"
  • Alison Lindsay, " 'This fair lady, in her laces': Margaret Howie Strang Hall, the first woman in Scotland to try to become a lawyer"
  • Mari Takayanagi, "Sacred year or broken reed? The Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919"
  • Caroline Morris, "Dr Ivy Williams: inside yet outside"
  • Caroline Derry, "Ethel Bright Ashford: more and less than a role model"
  • Rosalind Wright, "Sybil Campbell, first woman judge and supporter of higher education for women"
  • Charlotte Coleman, "Thwarted ambitions: the biography of Auvergne Doherty, an aspiring female barrister"
  • Judith Bourne, "Helena Normanton: legal crusader or myth Maker? '[S]urely the one thing history teaches us is that we cannot generalise, or even worse, categorise individual humans into saints and sinners, or heroes and villains"
  • Alana Harris, "'Lady Doctor among the "Called"': Dr Letitia Fairfield and Catholic medico-legal activism beyond the bar"
  • Helen Kay and Rose Pipes, "Chrystal Macmillan, Scottish campaigner for women's equality through law reform"
  • Mary Jane Mossman, "Cornelia Sorabji (1866-1954): a pioneer woman lawyer in Britain and India"
  • Pat Thane, "Afterword: challenging women in the British professions"
Further information is available here.

--Mitra Sharafi

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Law and Culture in Medieval England: NEH Seminar at WMU

 [We have the following press release from Western Michigan University.  DRE.]

Two Western Michigan University faculty members have been awarded a prestigious National Endowment for the Humanities—NEH—grant to host a seminar program this summer for higher education faculty and graduate students. It was one of 11 grants chosen nationwide, totaling $1.9 million.

The more than $169,000 grant allocated to Western will fund a four-weeklong institute for university and college faculty participants from around the country. This virtual program hosted by WMU's Medieval Institute, like other NEH institutes, will provide ongoing education for faculty and advanced graduate students to learn about specialized areas of knowledge, led by nationally recognized experts in their fields.

The "Law and Culture in Medieval England" institute will examine law through various perspectives using legal, literary and historical texts. This includes famous documents, such as the Magna Carta, as well as lesser-known sources, some appearing in English translation for the first time. The institute will be interdisciplinary, involving visiting scholars and participants from many fields.

WMU's Dr. Robert Berkhofer III, associate professor of history, and Dr. Jana Schulman, director of the Medieval Institute, will co-direct the program from June 21 to July 16, 2021. Berkhofer is a historian of the central Middle Ages, whose research examines literacy and uses of writing in England and France. Schulman is a specialist in Old English and Old Norse language and literature, focusing on women and the law. In addition to Berkhofer and Schulman, instructors will include six experts in history, English, law and medieval studies from the U.S. and Britain.

The co-directors and visiting scholars of the institute will choose 25 applicants whose teaching responsibilities are in the humanities or social sciences, including those who are not medievalists. Participants may apply beginning December 1. To learn more, visit the Law and Culture in Medieval England website.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Weekend Roundup

  • The Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation announces the webinar series, Black Inventors and Innovators: New Perspectives.  It is free and open to the public and will convene daily November 16–20, 2020 from 1:00-2:30pm ET. “This week-long program will draw renewed attention to historic and contemporary inventors of color and Black technology consumers, while discussing strategies for building a more equitable innovation ecosystem. Through presentations by an interdisciplinary group of thought leaders and engaged discussions with our online audience, this 'state of the field' workshop will identify critical questions, seek out new case studies, and articulate theories, concepts and themes to inform the next generation of research, archival collecting, museum exhibitions, and invention education initiatives.”  Kara W. Swanson, Northeastern University, is on Thursday’s panel. 
  • Ronald K. L. Collins reviews Hamilton and the Law: Reading Today’s Most Contentious Legal Issues Through the Hit Musical by Drexel University law professor Lisa A. Tucker (WaPo).
Weekend Roundup is a weekly feature compiled by all the Legal History bloggers.  

Friday, November 13, 2020

Book event: McQuade on terrorism and colonial law in India

 [We have the following announcement for a virtual event happening this coming Monday.]

Asian Legal History Seminar Series (Hong Kong University)

Book LaunchJoseph McQuade, A Genealogy of Terrorism: Colonial Law and the Origins of an Idea (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020)

Speaker: Dr. Joseph McQuade (University of Toronto)

Respondent: Dr. Amrita Shodhan (Chinese University of Hong Kong)

 Joseph McQuade is the Richard Charles Lee Postdoctoral Fellow in the Asian Institute at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy and a former SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow at the Centre for South Asian Studies. This talk will be based on his book, A Genealogy of Terrorism: Colonial Law and the Origins of an Idea (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020). His broader research and teaching interests include critical genealogies of terrorism, international relations in Asia, and the global history of political violence.

Amrita Shodhan is a Senior Teaching Fellow at SOAS South Asia Institute. The author of A Question of Community: Religious Groups and Colonial Law (Calcutta: Samya, 2001), she is currently teaching at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. 


(Registration Required)

Conveners: Dr. Michael Ng and Dr. Alastair McClure

The event is scheduled for Monday 16 November, 7:00 – 8:30pm. (Hong Kong time) 

Please register: Asian Legal History Seminar Registration 

Further information is available here.

--Mitra Sharafi

Paschal's "Jim Crow in North Carolina"

 Richard A. Paschal, an attorney in private practice in Raleigh, has published Jim Crow in North Carolina: The Legislative Program from 1865 to 1920 (Carolina Academic Press, 2020):

This book is a comprehensive study of the Jim Crow laws in North Carolina from 1865 to 1920. While it catalogs all of the laws enacted by the North Carolina legislature during those years, the laws and statutes do not fully explain the true extent of racial discrimination created through the implementation of those laws. The author demonstrates how de jure discrimination in North Carolina was not simply a result of the Jim Crow statutes but was imposed through the operation of law and, in turn, how the operation of law was itself affected by societal attitudes.

Paschal argues that the application and implementation of North Carolina’s laws were more important in terms of the actual discrimination experienced by African Americans than the statutory texts. He contends that the racial contagion which swept the state during the elections of 1898 and 1900—the White Supremacy Campaigns—dramatically changed white attitudes and, consequently, the operation of the law. This book provides an in-depth history of the shadow that Jim Crow casts over North Carolina and the nation.
Mr. Paschal tells us that his research was funded by a generous financial grant from the North Caroliniana Society.

–Dan Ernst

Helmholz's "Natural Law in Court" at NBN

Over at New Books Network, Jeffrey Bristol talks to R. H. Helmholz, University of Chicago Law School, about Natural Law in Court: A History of Legal Theory in Practice:

R. H. Helmholz's book Natural Law in Court (Harvard UP, 2015) serves as a guide to the uses of natural law in the past. It shows how lawyers, judges and jurists used natural law to reason and argue about all areas of the law, be they procedural or substantive. Far from being a polemic, this book delves into the legal record of multiple countries to compare, contrast and shed light on the role natural law played in actual legal disputes. Due to the renewed interest in natural law today, this book serves as an important counter-point to legal thinkers who too often rely on purely philosophical or theoretical notions of natural law in their arguments to show how natural law was (and potential can be) deployed to make effective legal arguments in actual legal proceedings.

--Dan Ernst

ASLH 2020

[We're moving this up, because ASLH 2020 has begun!  DRE.]


Dear ASLH members,

We invite you to register here for the 2020 ASLH annual conference, to be held November 13-14.  The online program features a carefully curated selection of exciting panels on the legal history of colonialism, slavery and abolition, immigration, and other topics. On Friday afternoon a group of editors and other experts will discuss book publishing in the Covid era. To wrap things up on Saturday afternoon, President Lauren Benton will deliver her Presidential Address and announce ASLH prize winners. You can find the full program here.

Registration is free for all ASLH members, and you must be a member to attend. The ASLH warmly welcomes students, who can become members for as little as $10.

Join or renew your ASLH membership here.

We hope you will join us for what promises to be a fantastic – if unusual – gathering of the ASLH!


Lauren Benton, ASLH President
Anne Twitty, ASLH Secretary
Kristin Collins, ASLH Program Co-chair
Ari Bryen, ASLH Program Co-chair

University History Job at University of Minnesota

 [We share the following job ad. Review of applications begins on Jan.15, 2021.]

Open Rank Professor of History, Universities and Power

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities

The Department of History, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, invites applications for the position of Historian of Universities and Power (open rank) to begin in fall semester 2021. This search is open as to geographical area. The department seeks scholars whose work investigates how institutions, particularly institutions of higher education, are imbricated in the reproduction of social power and inequality in communities and regions. The successful candidate will conduct research on the history of the University of Minnesota in relation to communities and organizations within Minnesota, working in close collaboration with archives at the University Libraries. We are particularly interested in scholars whose research has the potential to enter into conversation with other historical fields of social and cultural history that are represented in the department, including but not limited to the social and cultural histories of race, gender and sexuality, indigeneity, legal history, colonialism, empire, capitalism, and migration.

A completed doctorate in history or in a related field with a focus on history, in hand before beginning the appointment, and scholarship on a topic appropriate to the position are required. Candidates must demonstrate scholarly excellence with evidence of potential for scholarly distinction and an ability to teach at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Application materials must be submitted electronically via the University of Minnesota’s employment website. For the complete position announcement, including a description of the duties and responsibilities, the required and preferred qualifications, and application instructions, please refer to the announcement on the History Department website and the Employment website at the links below.

Department of History:

University of Minnesota Employment System:

The search is open until the position is filled; review of files begins on January 15, 2021.

The University of Minnesota shall provide equal access to and opportunity in its programs, facilities, and employment without regard to race, color, creed, religion, national origin, gender, age, marital status, disability, public assistance status, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.

--Mitra Sharafi

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Assistant to the Executive Director at NJCHS

[We have the following job announcement.  DRE]

Assistant to the Executive Director for the Ninth Judicial Circuit Historical Society

The Ninth Judicial Circuit Historical Society (NJCHS) is seeking an Assistant to work in close partnership with the Executive Director promoting awareness of the important role that the judicial system plays in our society. The successful candidate will bring their creativity, attention to detail, and passion to the work of the Society by designing outreach and other materials, helping build and support events, supporting educational and member outreach, and performing administrative tasks and other projects as needed. 

What is the NJCHS?  The NJCHS is a 501(c)(3) whose mission is to preserve and promote the vibrant history of the law in the Ninth Circuit, and to raise awareness of the important role that the judicial system plays in our society. We accomplish our mission through an ambitious schedule of programming, exhibits, oral histories, and publication of our journal, Western Legal History. More information about the Society is available on our website.

Responsibilities include (but are not limited to):

Communications Support

  • Design newsletters to send to members
  • Maintain WordPress website including creating and supporting webpages for key events, programs, and fundraising initiatives
  • Design, create and/or update PowerPoint presentations for Board Meetings and/or events
  • Assist in designing print and digital media such as flyers, T-shirts, posters, and announcement materials
  • Maintain membership database (Little Green Light) updating and tracking memberships and sending monthly renewal letters

Administrative Support

  • Help coordinate tracking and reporting of payments, sponsorships, and membership dues
  • Maintain accounts payable/receivable along with depositing and tracking checks
  • Supervise all bank accounts including credit card account and responsible for reviewing and compiling monthly bank statements
  • Maintain Stripe account and coordinate integration throughout all platforms
  • Track project budgets for special events such as our Annual Gala
  • Manage incoming and outgoing mail

Special Events

  •  Support registration and logistical support related to special events
  • Run Zoom webinars for virtual events including practice sessions
  • Liaison with other organizations and teams to coordinate co-sponsored events


  • You have 1-2 years of experience in an administrative and/or project coordination role
  • Strong written and verbal communication skill
  • Experience with a variety of technology systems, and ability to troubleshoot and research solutions when needed
  • Experience working in Google Suite, Zoom, Excel, WordPress and Mailchimp
  • Familiarity with basic graphic design
  • Working with nonprofits, foundations, and/or government agencies is a plus
  • Experience working with a CRM system (Salesforce, LGL etc.) is a plus 

Personal Qualities

  • The NJCHS has a very small staff, so you are highly organized, a team player, flexible, and thrive in a fast-paced work environment where you have real responsibility in a supportive environment
  • You are an effective communicator and a proactive problem solver  
  • Familiarity with the role of the judiciary a plus

Position Details

  • Start date: January 2021
  • This can be either a full-time position or part time position. While we are currently working remotely, successful candidates are expected to be available for in-person work in the San Francisco Bay Area post-Covid.
  • Salary commensurate with experience 

To Apply

If this sounds like a perfect fit for your expertise and interest, please email and include a personalized cover letter and your resume. Please include Assistant to the Director in the subject line of the email.

Boris's "Making the Woman Worker" at WHS

The next meeting of the Washington History Seminar, on Monday, November 16 at 4:00 pm ET, will be devoted to Making the Woman Worker: Precarious Labor and the Fight for Global Standards, 1919-2019, by Eileen Boris, University of California, Santa Barbara.  Sonya Michel, University of Maryland, will comment.  Click here to register for the webinar or watch on the National History Center’s Facebook Page or the Wilson Center website.

Amid the unraveling of standard employment at century’s end, previously excluded home-based and domestic workers have pressed the International Labour Organization (ILO) for rights and recognition. By tracing the construction of the woman worker through ILO labor standards, leading feminist historian Eileen Boris probes paths to equality between those classified as men or women and between women globally, complicating the debate over protective labor legislation and questioning whether the new carework economy is just another name for the old dichotomy between “working women” and “mothers in the home.”

 --Dan Ernst