Wednesday, June 30, 2021

LHR 39:2

Law and History Review 39:2 (May 2021) is out on Cambridge Core.

In This Issue

Forum: Rethinking the Criminalization of Childbirth: Infanticide in Premodern Europe and the Modern Americas

Introduction: Rethinking the Criminalization of Childbirth: Infanticide in Premodern Europe and the Modern Americas
Sara McDougall, Felicity Turner

Pardoning Infanticide in Late Medieval France
Sara McDougall

Turning a Blind Eye: Infanticide and Missing Babies in Seventeenth-Century Geneva
Sara Beam

The Contradictions of Reform: Prosecuting Infant Murder in the Nineteenth-Century United States
Felicity Turner

Maternity and Morality in Puebla's Nineteenth-Century Infanticide Trials
Nora E. Jaffary

Forum: Originalism and Legal History: Rethinking the Special Relationship

Written Constitutionalism, Past and Present
Jonathan Gienapp

Does Originalism Have a Natural Law Problem?
John Mikhail

Review Essays

Taking the Discipline of Law Seriously: Twining, Arthurs, and Histories of Academic Lawyers
Susan Bartie

Government, Money, and the Law
Nick Mayhew

Book Reviews

Stephanie Elsky, Custom, Common Law, and the Constitution of English Renaissance Literature, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020. Pp. x, 224. $70.00 hardcover (ISBN 9780198861430).
Lorna Hutson

Kathryn D. Temple, Loving Justice: Legal Emotions in Blackstone's England, New York: New York University Press, 2019. Pp. viii, 265. $45.00 hardcover (ISBN 9781479895274).
Emily Ireland

Christopher Casey, Nationals Abroad: Globalization, Individual Rights, and the Making of Modern International Law, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020. Pp. 316. $39.99 cloth (ISBN 9781108784047); Nimisha Barton, Reproductive Citizens: Gender, Immigration, and the State in Modern France, 1880–1945, Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2020. Pp. 306. $54.95 cloth (ISBN 9781501749681).
Dina Gusejnova

R.W. Kostal, Laying Down the Law: The American Legal Revolutions in Occupied Germany and Japan, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2019. Pp 472. $55.00 cloth (ISBN 9780674052413).
Eric M. Adams

Eric H. Reiter, Wounded Feelings: Litigating Emotions in Quebec, 1870-1950, Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2020. Pp. 504. $33.71 paperback (ISBN 9781487526986).
Tina Piper

Francis Lieber and G. Norman Lieber, To Save the Country: A Lost Treatise on Martial Law, edited with an introduction by Will Smiley and John Fabian Witt, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2019. Pp. 352. $55.00 hardcover (ISBN 9780300222548).
John M. Collins

--Dan Ernst

Osgoode Society Legal History Workshop

 [Here is the lineup for the Osgoode Society Legal History Workshop for Fall Term 2021.  DRE.]

Wednesday September 15 – Jeff McNairn, Queen’s University, ‘Inviolate and Subservient to the Public Welfare: Private Property and Expropriation for Public Use in Upper Canada’

Wednesday September 29 – Mélanie Méthot, University of Alberta: ‘How “l'Affaire Delpit” Failed to Become a Cause Célèbre.’

Wednesday October 13 - Chris Monaghan, University of Worcester, UK: 'Impeachment Reimagined: Drawing upon history to empower the UK House of Commons'.

Wednesday October 27 – Lara Tessaro, University of Kent: ‘Constitutionally Cosmetic: Federalism and Lipstick Perform an Ontological Turn in Canadian  Food and Drugs Law, 1945-47’.

Wednesday November 10 – Alex Martinborough, Queen’s University: ‘Writing Empire and Making Nations: Law, Constitutions and History-Writing in British Settler Colonies, 1860-1935.’

Wednesday November 24 - Daniel Murchison, York University: ‘Alice Payette's Piano and Fur Coat: Views of Métis Life from the Manitoba Surrogate Court, 1870 to 1930".

Wednesday December 1 – Wayne Sumner, University of Toronto: ‘Cognitive Deficiency and the Insanity Defence: The Case of Mike Hack.’

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Guest post: On the specificity of the courts, i.e., when should we assume that legal actors reflect public culture?

[This is the fourth in a series of guest posts by Anna Lvovsky. Her book, Vice Patrol, examines the history of antigay policing at midcentury.]


In my last post, I wrote about ethical questions raised by archival confidentiality agreements. For my final post, I want to discuss a methodological question: When should we assume that legal actors, such as trial judges, absorb more widely available cultural beliefs, and when do their more specific professional or institutional identities put them in a different category?


A central theme in Vice Patrol is the profound ambivalence inspired by the policing of gay life in the mid-twentieth century. Against common presumptions that courts in these years broadly supported the vice squads’ campaigns, many judges harbored significant qualms about the police’s arrests, and they often devised creative ways of resisting the ensuing charges. Sometimes, such resistance reflected the surprising impact of seemingly familiar cultural trends. The prevailing view of homosexuality as an illness, for example, did not simply legitimate the law’s campaigns against gay life, but also fueled judicial concerns that undercover officers genuinely “corrupted” vulnerable suspects. Sometimes, such resistance reflected the particular demographics of the judiciary. Relatively highly-educated and well-credentialed, judges were part of a social elite that, over the course of the 1950s, showed growing liberality toward consensual sexual activities. Often, however, it reflected the unique institutional pressures of the courts, from judges’ impatience with petty cases clogging their dockets, to their exposure to often-sympathetic defendants, to their sense of professional responsibility for curtailing immoral police practices.


This pattern of resistance is among the most surprising parts of the book, and the one that received the most pushback from early readers. Given the vast and well-documented homophobia that shaped public discussions of homosexuality, the objection went, why would trial judges—or anyone, for that matter—possibly have objected to the vice squads’ operations? That objection rested on the assumption that judges, as consumers of and participants in a deeply homophobic culture, must have both internalized those same beliefs and then linearly translated those beliefs into action. Excavating the reality of judicial practice, in context, required recognizing the courts as a distinct and sometimes-idiosyncratic institution—one whose unique political and pragmatic pressures shaped both the beliefs and (as importantly) the incentives of its employees.


Recognizing that kind of institutional specificity is a key reason why I love writing about the courts. But even in this one project, my commitment to that type of specificity raised some tricky questions. Given that principle, after all, was projecting prevailing beliefs onto the courts in the absence of more affirmative evidence entirely off-limits?


When discussing judicial resistance to police enticement, I’m often asked about the role of anti-Communism. To what extent did such judicial aversion reflect the status of undercover policing as a symbolically anti-American form of enforcement?  Certainly, in the years following World War II, undercover policing became deeply associated with Communist and totalitarian regimes. From spies sent to infiltrate Black political organizations to unmarked police cars, public discussions of “undercover” tactics commonly traded in the language of anti-Communism. When the popular press turned its attention to gay life in the 1960s, liberal writers criticized the vice squads’ tactics in those same terms. But in none of the records I found documenting judicial attitudes—otherwise rich sources that surveyed numerous objections to the vice squads’ methods—did that precise concern come up.


Perhaps it would have been harmless to infer that judges shared journalists’ and politicians’ Cold War-era anxieties. Unlike (say) the relative seriousness of solicitation charges, after all, nothing about the institutional logic of the courts would obviously make judges less susceptible to anti-Communist rhetoric. Ultimately, though, given the book’s emphasis on the shortcomings of projecting popular beliefs onto the judiciary, it felt profoundly hypocritical to engage in that same type of projection when it struck me personally as intuitive. Previous writers, after all, likely presumed that public support for the vice squads’ campaigns was similarly universal. In this particular case, I avoided such speculation, limiting my account of judicial views to more explicit threads found in the archives.


That said, I imagine the same question will often arise in future projects, including in cases lacking the rich first-hand evidence I had available here. In those cases, I hope to remain attentive to the specificity of the courts—but I suspect certainly don’t mean to write off more circumstantial cultural evidence altogether.  


For what it’s worth, I suspect that one useful shortcut to avoid flattening the perspective of legal actors is attending not simply to those individuals’ own diversity, but also to the diversity of one’s readers. Early on in revisions, I discussed my argument about judicial resistance with a senior colleague. He wasn’t a historian or a scholar of gay life, but he was a scholar of the courts, and he had no trouble believing that judges disdained the vice squads’ petty morals charges. If anything—in a complete reversal of those earlier reactions—he wanted to know why the vice squads bothered with such charges to begin with. From his vantage point, that is, the “prevailing” view to be projected onto individual judges was not the public’s aversion to sexual difference at midcentury. It was the familiar political economy of the courts. That’s not to say, of course, that contemporary literature on judicial decisionmaking should be directly projected onto historical actors, any more than popular media accounts should be. But it provides a useful reminder of how differently seemingly familiar stories read to different audiences—and, in that, of the very concrete advantages of writing histories in interdisciplinary spaces.

Gehrig on law and rights in divided Germany

 Sebastian Gehrig (University of Roehampton) has published Legal Entanglements: Law, Rights and the Battle for Legitimacy in Divided Germany, 1945-1989 with Berghahn. From the press:

During the division of Germany, law became the object of ideological conflicts and the means by which the two national governments conducted their battle over political legitimacy. Legal Entanglements explores how these dynamics produced competing concepts of statehood and sovereignty, all centered on citizens and their rights. Drawing on wide-ranging archival sources, including recently declassified documents, Sebastian Gehrig traces how politicians, diplomats, judges, lawyers, activists and intellectuals navigated the struggle between legal ideologies under the pressures of the Cold War and decolonization. As he shows, in their response to global debates over international law and human rights, their work kept the legal cultures of both German states entangled until 1989.

Praise for the book: 

 “Legal Entanglements shows that although the two Germanys were divided by Cold War politics, their approaches to sovereignty, citizenship and law were deeply intertwined, as the two states navigated both their shared past and the transformation of international law in an era of decolonization. Deeply researched and lucidly written, Gehrig’s book will be essential reading for scholars of modern Germany, internationalism, and human rights.” - Celia Donert

“A pioneering comparative study of divided Germany’s contest over legal justice after 1945, showing how their rival understandings of law and citizen rights reflected broader claims of political legitimacy, territorial sovereignty and national identity in a fast-changing postwar world. A must read for anyone interested in the relationship between German legal history and Cold War international relations.” - Paul Betts

“With innovative methodology and conceptualization, Gehrig analyzes legal-political debates that will be of interest to historians of modern Germany and to scholars interested in the history of both decolonization and the global human rights regime within which his story plays out.” - Young-sun Hong

Legal Entanglements is a welcome addition to the literature of postwar German history, covering a very interesting aspect of this period in-depth for the first time.” - Armin Grünbacher

Further information is available here.

--Mitra Sharafi

Monday, June 28, 2021

That SCOTUS Commission: Written Testimony Posted

 Much of the written testimony submitted for the June 30 public hearing of the Presidential Commission on the Supreme Court of the United States has been posted here.   We assume others will be added.

Sunday, June 27, 2021

A Webinar on Legal History and Woman Lawyers in Estonia, Lithuania and Belarus

 [We have the following announcement for an event to be held tomorrow at 9AM EST.  DRE.]

On June 28, European Humanities University (EHU) within the framework of the project “University without borders” invites students, prospective students and everyone interested to the webinar “Why lawyers still need legal history?”  Join the webinar to reflect on the legal history and its value to legal profession. Speakers of the webinar will also talk about women in the legal profession in Lithuania and Estonia and what Belarusian girls as the future students of EHU can learn.

NB! The webinar will be held on June 28 at 4 PM (Lithuanian time). To participate, please register via the link.

Short bios of the speakers:

Since 2019 Dovile Sagatiene is an Associate Professor of Belarusian University in exile – European Humanities University in Vilnius and since October 2020 she also holds the position of the Vice-Dean for Research at the Law School in Mykolas Romeris University. Her dissertation about Soviet courts of general jurisdiction in occupied Lithuania (2013) focused on Soviet judiciary problems and her latest post-doc as a Fulbright Scholar at the Harriman Institute in Columbia University in 2019–2020 focused on the analysis of the Soviet repressions in Lithuania in the framework of the genocide concept.

Hesi Siimets-Gross is Associate Professor of Roman Law and Legal History at the School of Law, University of Tartu, Estonia. Her main areas of research are Roman private law and its reception, Estonian legal history, especially basic rights in constitutional law, incipience and the abolition of serfdom.

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Weekend Roundup

  • Here’s a notice of the new Tennessee State Library and Archives that emphasizes its judicial holdings (
  • "Para Todos Los Niños,” a webinar by the Latino Judges Association on the school desegregation case Mendez v. Westminster, is here.
  • “Lawyer and writer Kate Morgan chronicles the legal history of murder, and explores the roles killers, victims, lawyers and judges have played in making UK murder law what it is today” on the BBC’s History Extra podcast.
  • Earlier this month, the Max Planck Institute for Legal History and Legal Theory hosted its 4th annual conference virtually on Law and Policy in European Integration (1960s-1990s). More here.
  • A Radiohead reference hooks us every time. Florenz Volkaert has published OK Computer? The digital turn in legal history: A methodological retrospective, in Tijdschrift voor Rechtsgeschiedenis / Revue d'Histoire du Droit / The Legal History Review.  “This article reviews some of the main debates on methodology in legal history since the Second World War, engages in a dialogue with the social sciences and finally discusses the digital turn in law and legal history, focusing on network analysis.”
  • American Historical Review 126:1 (March 2021) is available ungated, for a while at least.  It includes Mary Lindemann’s presidential address, “Slow History?” which asks whether historians should see COVID-19 necessitated delays as an “opportunity to think more deeply about the “doing” of history and to isolate what really matters in research, writing, and instruction.”  “Is going slow good for historians as well?” she asks.
  • At The Historical Journal: Richard Bourke's review article, "European Empire and International Law from the eighteenth to the twentieth century." Open access here.
  • More CRT, ICYMI:  Linda C. McClain and Robert L. Tsai on How to Avoid the Culture War Trap Around Critical Race Theory (Slate).  Ariela Gross on Why they attack critical race theory (New York Daily News).

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

Friday, June 25, 2021

Barzun on MacKinnon on Sexual Harrassment

Charles L. Barzun, University of Virginia School of Law, has posted The Common Law and Critical Theory, which is forthcoming in the University of Colorado Law Review:

Because common-law doctrines have long served as targets for critical theorists, it would be easy to see the common law and critical theory as essentially antagonistic with each other. But that would be a mistake. In fact, both critical theory and the common law—or, at least, one interpretation of the common law—license a quite similar, and similarly holistic, form of reasoning. Specifically, they both draw normative inferences from explanatory claims and vice versa. This symposium essay uses a case study to illustrate this quite general point. Catharine MacKinnon’s revolutionary argument that sexual harassment constitutes sex discrimination under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a vivid example not only of critical theory but also of an holistic interpretation of the common law. Because common-law reasoning and critical theory are analytically compatible in this way, I conclude by suggesting that each tradition has something to learn from the other.

--Dan Ernst

Thursday, June 24, 2021

SFSU Seeks Online US Constitutional History Instructor

We hear from Laura Lisy-Wagner, Chair of the History Department at San Francisco State University, that the Department seeks an instructor for HIST 471: The US Constitution since 1896 (as well as HIST 120: History of the US to Reconstruction, and HIST 115: World History since 1500). “All three classes are scheduled to be taught on-line. HIST 471 and HIST 115 can have a synchronous component or can be converted to asynchronous. HIST 120 is scheduled as an asynchronous on-line class.”  The Department “would be happy to hire either existing Ph.D's, ABD candidates, or terminal M.A. recipients.”  If interested, please contact Professor Lisy-Wagner at 

--Dan Ernst

Sugarman on Robert Stevens

[David Sugarman, Professor Emeritus at the Law School, Lancaster University, Senior Associate Research Fellow at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, University of London, and Senior Associate, Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, University of Oxford, has published the following appreciation of Robert B. Stevens in Socio-Legal Newsletter no. 94 (Summer 2021), published by the Socio-Legal Studies Association.]

Robert Bocking Stevens 1933-2021: A Personal Appreciation of a Pioneering Socio-Legal Scholar

David Sugarman

Ground-breaking, irreverent, critical, innovative, thoroughly researched, iconoclastic, inspirational, entertaining and highly readable. Robert Stevens' scholarship was all these things and, as I hope to demonstrate, much more.  

His work includes probably the first three books in England co-authored by a lawyer and a social scientist: The Restrictive Practices Court (RPC) (Stevens and Yamey, 1965) written with Basil Yamey, an economist with whom he co-taught the first ever course in England on Restrictive Trade Practices, Lawyers and the Courts: A Sociological Study of the English Legal System, 1750-1965 (LATC) (Abel-Smith and Stevens, 1967), and In Search of Justice: Society and the Legal System (ISJ) (Abel-Smith and Stevens, 1968), both written with Brian Abel-Smith, a sociologist.  Inter-disciplinarity was allied to advocacy of a socio-legal perspective, a sustained critique of hallowed legal institutions and argument for fundamental reform driven by a concern for justice and the public interest.

These publications were notable in focussing on how lawyers, courts, legal aid and legal education operated in practice and in their deployment of social science evidence.  Robert made extensive use of material buried in the National Archives and statistics. He called attention to the lack of systematic information on the operation of the legal system and the need for better and more up-to-date data. Uniquely for the time, LATC and ISJ drew on over four hundred interviews with judges, lawyers and academics.  Robert's writing was underpinned by a strong sense that the contemporary legal system and contemporary issues needed to be understood in their historical context.  His work was also enriched by a comparative perspective that whilst rarely central, considered England and America through each other's eyes.  

RPC critiqued parliament's failure to be sufficiently clear about the goals of its new law on monopoly and competition and the judiciary's preoccupation with masking the unavoidably discretionary and creative aspects of their work. LATC was the first major critical social history of the English legal system from the Industrial Revolution to modern times and remains a leading work in the field. It argued that whilst modest, ad hoc reforms had been slowly introduced, fundamental reforms necessary for the proper operation of a modern legal system had been held back largely by the weighty representation of lawyers in parliament, respect for the judges, the overly-narrow role and aspirations of academic law and legal scholarship and in particular the self-interested protectionism of the legal profession. ISJ follows on from LATC, analysing the contemporary world of the law and legal administration. It argued that patchwork reform is not enough and proposed a wholesale reconstruction of the legal system.

RPC, LATC and ISJ pre-dated the world of legal education and scholarship in England as we know it today. There were no new or 'alternative' university law schools, no British journals exclusively devoted to law and society, no Socio-Legal Studies Association, and no tradition of empirical legal research. In this context, Robert's achievement seems even more remarkable.

Of his several other books and over 50 articles that he authored, probably the most important for socio-legal scholars are those on the judges, the House of Lords and politics, and legal education. In a series of penetrating books and essays (notably, Stevens 1979, 1993, 2002) he argued that the concept of 'judicial independence' had become a mystique that unduly insulated the judiciary from criticism and reform, inhibiting much-needed discussion about accountability, transparency and what he regarded as the inevitable interplay between the judiciary and politics. It was in this context that he examined the changing role of the judiciary over the second half of the twentieth century, encouraging judges to be more open about their activities.  Assessing this body of work, Alan Paterson described Robert as 'the doyen of judicial commentators'.  

Robert's history of American legal education (Stevens, 1983) used legal education as a window on the legal system and society. It celebrated the social mobility offered by law schools but worried that mass education might compromise quality and the organisational replication of the Harvard model threatened institutional and educational diversity.

In 1994 I interviewed Robert as part of a project on the history of modern English legal education and scholarship, and his interview threw valuable light on his life and work (Sugarman 2009). He told me how his grandmother made him learn and recite the Chartists 'People's Charter' of 1838; how he 'grew up in a family without any books' where 'money was always a problem'. His passion for history was kindled by his history teacher at Oakham School, and he found his legal studies at Oxford 'dull and uninteresting after Oakham.' He enjoyed legal practice in America and in England, but keenly felt the lack of money and connections necessary to make it at the Bar. Yale's LL.M. programme (1957-58), where he graduated top of the class, and teaching at University College Dar es Salaam, fired his interest in writing about law socio-legally.  It was at Dar that he first met William Twining, with whom he conjured up a series of 'counter-textbooks' - the Law in Context series- to subvert and transform the prevailing orthodoxy in English legal education.  And it was at Dar that he first met and 'fell very much under [the] influence' of Richard Titmuss and Brian Abel-Smith, both pioneering British social policy researchers and advisors and chroniclers of and campaigners against social injustice.

While the importance of LATC and ISJ was immediately recognised, they were also (as Robert recalled) 'bitterly attacked'.  Apparently, the Bar Council's decision to withdraw support for a study to have been conducted by Abel-Smith on the social background of the Bar related to the publication of LATC.  

Why so much hostility? Almost everything about LATC and ISJ was alien to the world of law books: their subject matter, orientation, the focus on the economic and financial dimensions of the legal system, on cost-effectiveness and public interest; their avowedly sociological orientation; their irreverent style; being written for the general public as well as academics, lawyers and judges; and the fact that Abel-Smith was both a sociologist and closely associated with the Labour Party. The notion of law as a social science, and the importance of the social sciences, was extremely controversial at the time.  Robert claimed that he was told that 'he'd never get an academic job in England'.  Perhaps this at least partly explains why his subsequent work was less polemical, while still challenging the status quo.  During his Mastership of Pembroke College, Oxford, he sparked controversy when he told the students that Oxford was 'bourgeois', and chided 'middle-class parents', who had 'become accustomed to a free university education'.

Robert was celebrated for his loud ties and throaty chuckle.  He led a rich and amazing life that included being a full-time Professor of Law at Yale (1959-76), an Honorary Fellow at Oxford's Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, a prominent university administrator, and a legal practitioner in England and the US.  That he was also a highly productive and seminal legal scholar is remarkable.  His work was vital to the broadening of English Legal System and Legal History; and along with that of Zander and others, he played a crucial role in opening up the administration of justice to public scrutiny and helped to lay the foundations for the reforms in professional ethics and organisation which took place over the subsequent decades.  


Abel-Smith, B. & Stevens, R. 1967. Lawyers and the Courts: A Sociological Study of the English Legal System, 1750-1965 (LATC), Heinemann; 1968. In Search of Justice: Society and the Legal System (ISJ), Allen Lane.

Stevens, R. 1979. Law and Politics: The House of Lords as a Judicial Body, 1800-1976, Weidenfeld and Nicholson; 1987. Law School: Legal Education in America from the 1850s to the 1980s, University of North Carolina Press; 1993. The Independence of the Judiciary, Oxford University Press; 2002. The English Judges: Their Role in the Changing Constitution, Hart.    

Stevens, R. B. & Yamey, B. S. 1965. The Restrictive Practices Court (RPC).

Sugarman, D. 2009.  Beyond Ignorance and Complacency: Robert Stevens' Journey through Lawyers and the Courts, International Journal of the Legal Profession 16:1 pp. 7-32.

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

That SCOTUS Commission: Witnesses Announced

 [The following announcement is up on the Presidential Commission on SCOTUS’s website.  DRE.]

The Presidential Commission on the Supreme Court of the United States will hold its next meeting on June 30, 2021 from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. EST (agenda). This meeting will be conducted virtually. For information on how to register for the meeting, please refer to the notice in the Federal Register.

The purpose of this meeting is to hear testimony from subject matter experts. This testimony will be organized into four panels.

Panel #1: The Contemporary Debate over Supreme Court Reform: Origins and Perspectives

Laura Kalman, Kim Scheppele, Noah Feldman, Michael McConnell, Niko Bowie

Panel #2: The Court’s Role in Our Constitutional System 

Samuel Moyn, Maya Sen, Rosalind Dixon, Charles Fried, Ilan Wurman

Panel #3: Case Selection and Review at the Supreme Court

Stephen Vladeck, Michael Dreeben, Deepak Gupta, Samuel Bray, Christina Swarns

Panel #4: Access to Justice and Transparency in the Operation of the Supreme Court

Amy Howe, Judith Resnik, Allison Orr Larsen, Russell Wheeler

The Commission also intends to hold panels at its July meeting, tentatively planned for July 20. Additional details will follow.

Pfander's "Cases without Controversies"

James E. Pfander has published Cases Without Controversies: Uncontested Adjudication in Article III Courts (Oxford University Press):

This book offers a new account of the power of federal courts in the United States to hear and determine uncontested applications to assert or register a claim of right. Familiar to lawyers in civil law countries as forms of voluntary or non-contentious jurisdiction, these uncontested applications fit uneasily with the commitment to adversary legalism in the United States. Indeed, modern accounts of federal judicial power often urge that the language of the Article III of the U.S. Constitution limits federal courts to the adjudication of concrete disputes between adverse parties, thereby ruling out all forms of non-contentious jurisdiction. Said to rest on the so-called “case-or-controversy” requirement of Article III, this requirement of party contestation threatens the power of federal courts to conduct a range of familiar proceedings, such as the oversight of bankruptcy proceedings, the issuance of warrants, and the adjudication of applications for mandamus and habeas corpus relief. By recounting the tradition of naturalization and other uncontested litigation in antebellum America and coupling that tradition with an account of the important difference between cases and controversies, this book challenges the prevailing understanding of Article III. In addition to defending the power of federal courts to hear uncontested matters of federal law, the book examines the way the Constitution's meaning has changed over time and suggests a constructive interpretive methodology that would allow the Supreme Court to take account of the old and the new in defining the contours of federal judicial power.
–Dan Ernst.  TOC after the jump.  

LHB Switches Subscription Services

“If you’re an internet user of a certain age,” writes Frederic Lardinois of TechCrunch, making us feel very old indeed, “chances are you used Google’s FeedBurner” to manage the feeds from your blogs.  Something like 700 of you still receive emails of Legal History Blog posts this way.  Because Google will end Feedburner’s subscription service next month, we have deleted our Feedburner feed and started one on  Active Feedburner subscribers should already be receiving emails via and need do nothing more.  But if you are an active Feedburner subscriber and have not received a email, or if you would like to subscribe to LHB for the first time, please do so using the gadget at the top right of the LHB landing page.

–Dan Ernst

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Guest post: Lvovsky on the ethics of archival confidentiality agreements

[This is the third in a series of guest posts by Anna Lvovsky. Her book, Vice Patrol, examines the history of antigay policing at midcentury.]

In my previous post, I wrote about a hidden gem in the archives of the New Jersey liquor board. Today, I want to focus on a question of professional ethics: the difficulties of telling honest stories based on information produced through confidential records.

Among my most tantalizing sources in Vice Patrol were field reports produced by the the American Far Foundation’s Survey of the Administration of Criminal Justice in the 1950s.  The Survey was carried out by a group of researchers who, over the course of several months in 1956 and 1957, conducted extensive interviews with employees at all levels of the criminal justice system in Kansas, Wisconsin, and Michigan: policemen, prosecutors, probation officers, defense attorneys, judges, even staff at psychiatric clinics. The study is perhaps most famous for illuminating the vast role of police discretion in the field. Less famously, it is an astonishing resource on the law’s encounters with queer life at midcentury. Under the cover of confidentiality, participants offered uniquely candid accounts of their work—ones that both confirmed more circumstantial evidence found in other sources and, in many cases, upended existing narratives about the internal operations and politics of antigay policing.

At the same time, my reliance on the Survey raised some tricky methodological and ethical questions. The researchers’ reports all identified their subjects by name, but they were produced under the understanding that no identifying information would be disclosed. To gain access to these reports, I signed an agreement pledging to uphold those same standards of confidentiality. As a matter of archival process, of course, that agreement is completely understandable. But it raised a number of quandaries.

First, several individual who appear in the Survey’s reports were prominent figures in public debates about antigay regulation at midcentury. Some, in fact, feature in other parts of my book based on their published writing or public statements. In context, failing to attribute their statements in the ABF’s records involved a significant narrative loss, preventing readers from drawing connections among different debates involving the same individuals and identifying fruitful nuances in their positions. Many of these individuals, one might assume, were not among those motivated by the researchers’ offer of confidentiality, and would not have objected to having their names revealed. But of course that wasn’t my decision to make.

Second, revealing certain speakers’ identities would have, if anything, rehabilitated their reputation. One trial judge in Detroit, for example, was known—and indeed reviled—by vice officers as a uniquely defendant-friendly figure, one who commonly dismissed antigay charges on pretextual grounds. Among this judge’s proudest moments: he once telephoned a local principal to ensure that a gay schoolteacher arrested for solicitation kept his job—an astonishing act given more familiar accounts about the adverse consequences of antigay arrests and the moral panic surrounding teachers specifically. This same judge appears (named) in another historical work based on a public comment at a trial, and on the basis of that comment alone he is presented as particularly conservative: a symbol of law’s antipathy to queer defendants. Naturally, that other case reveals an equally valid facet of his personality. But our reading of that case—and, more importantly, its broader lessons about the personalities and pressures shaping judicial encounters with gay men at midcentury—would be dramatically changed by the information in the Survey.

Third, and perhaps most troublesome, such confidentiality agreements deepen the problem of asymmetric privacy protections in delicate fields of history like antigay policing.  Given that legal records have long presented an unusually rich glimpse of queer life in the early twentieth century, historians have long had to walk the line between telling a useful story and respecting personal privacy.  On the one hand, doing justice to the realities of gay life in these years—the good and the bad—requires foregrounding its human elements, identifying its members as real-world individuals with rich backgrounds and biographies. At the same time, that history often resurfaces painful and often mortifying experiences—ones these men wanted and did their best to forget. Ultimately, my approach has been to use a defendant’s name only when two conditions are met: first, a name is genuinely necessary to tell the story coherently, and second, the defendant exercised at least some choice in creating a lasting record—typically, by appealing to a higher court. Whenever possible, I also name the vice officers or prosecutors involved in the case, both to provide some narrative granularity that doesn’t simply rest on outing defendants and (as it were) to maintain some reciprocity of public shaming.

In context, it’s hard not to remark on the imbalance of power perpetuated by confidentiality agreements like those I signed—how such archival practices give the state actors involved in antigay policing stronger protections than defendants themselves could possibly claim. Precisely because of their voluntary participation in the criminal system, the individuals interviewed in the Survey claimed greater bargaining power over not just their involvement in the antigay policing, but also in the production of historical records about their work. Naturally, this conundrum isn’t exclusive to confidential interviews, nor do I question the internal logic of an archive’s decision to respect researchers’ confidentiality agreements. But it is worth considering the outer boundaries of an archive’s (and a historian’s) obligations to enforce such agreements, particularly when it comes to records produced in unequal conditions.

Should archives ever exempt researchers from agreements imposed by those who produced and donated the records? If so, how many decades after the date of production? What if, in light of intervening cultural shifts, once-fraught details in those records have become uncontroversial, or even flattering? Who, if anyone, should be allowed to make the choice? The archivists? The original researchers? Any surviving relatives?

My own sense is that some combination of these three considerations—passage of time, lack of controversy, and approval by the estate—can support easing confidentiality agreements in some cases. But I certainly don’t claim to have clear answers as to where to draw the line. (Among other things, of course, what counts as controversial is inherently subjective, and hardly historically linear.) Regardless, I hope that future discussions of Vice Patrol—and my own future research—will create more opportunities to sound out these questions with other historians and archivists working with similar sources.

University of Bordeaux-TAU Student Legal History Virtual Workshop

We have an announcement of the University of Bordeaux-TAU Doctoral and Post-Doctoral Students Legal History Virtual Workshop, to be held Thursday, June 24.  Details here.

 --Dan Ernst

Early Career Cromwell Fellowship Deadline Quickly Approaching

From our friends at the American Society for Legal History, we have the following announcement:

Early Career Cromwell Fellowship Deadline Quickly Approaching

The William Nelson Cromwell Foundation makes available a number of $5,000 fellowships to support research and writing in American legal history by early-career scholars. Early-career generally includes those researching or writing a PhD dissertation (or equivalent project) and recent recipients of a graduate degree working on their first major monograph or research project. The deadline for submitting applications is July 15th. For complete information regarding how to apply go to

Essays in Honour of DeLloyd J. Guth

Manitoba Law Journal 43:1 (2020) was devoted to Essays in Legal History in Honour of DeLloyd J. Guth.  It publishes three articles delivered in the Annual DeLloyd J. Guth Lecture Series as well as two others, included to "affirm[] the commitment of the MLJ in its new era to legal history."  Here’s the TOC:

Bryan P. Schwartz, Darcy L. MacPherson

Two “White” Perspectives on Indigenous Resistance: Emily Carr’s Klee Wyck, the RCMP, and Title to the Kitwancool Valley in 1927
Hamar Foster

Lawyers in the ‘Slammer’ and in Hiding: The Pitfalls of Advocating for Unpopular Causes at the British Columbia Bar, 1900-1925
John McLaren, Pooja Parmar

Scandal, the Law and the Press: Attacking Immorality in Britain: Duelling 1760-1830
Donna T. Andrew

“We have centuries of work undone by a few bone-heads”: A Review of Jury History, a Present Snapshot of Crown and Defence Counsel Perspectives on Bill C-75’s Elimination of Peremptory Challenges, and Representativeness Issues
Michelle I. Bertrand, Richard Jochelson, David Ireland, Kathleen Kerr-Donohue, Inga A. Christianson, Kaitlynd Walker

The Trajectory of Three Marketing Boards in Canada: Gone, Going… and Curiously Persistent
Bryan P. Schwartz

--Dan Ernst

Monday, June 21, 2021

Muller's Nonreappointment to the UNC Press Board

[We have the following statement by Eric L. Muller, Dan K. Moore Distinguished Professor of Law in Jurisprudence and Ethics at UNC Law, on the decision of the  Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina System not to approve his reappointment to the Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina Press.  DRE]

It has been an honor to serve for many years on the Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina Press and for the last six years as its Chair. A year shy of its 100th birthday, the Press is one of the preeminent academic publishers in the world, renowned equally for the scholarly rigor and for the beautiful design of its books. The awards and prizes won by its authors would themselves fill a book.

I'm proud to have chaired the search that brought our talented Director, John Sherer, down from Basic Books in New York. It has been a privilege to help the Press expand its commitment to the UNC System and the people of our state, as with the Office of Scholarly Publishing Services, which provides low-cost publishing services to academic communities across the whole UNC System. We've also diversified our Board by appointing members from two previously unrepresented UNC System schools, Appalachian State and North Carolina A&T, so that now the Board can boast of representation from six System universities. Finally, the Board today benefits from the greatest racial, ethnic, and gender representation it has ever known, a result I am proud of helping the Board achieve.

Twice appointed to five-year terms by the System Board of Governors, I was looking forward to a smooth reappointment, as all such UNC Press Board appointments have been across the decades at the level of the System Board. I was therefore surprised and disappointed to hear that the System Board would not be acting on my reappointment, even while reappointing the two colleagues nominated alongside me.

If there is a reason for singling me out in this unprecedented way, the System Board has not shared it with me or with the UNC Press Board.

I would hate to think it had something to do with my public commentary in recent years on matters of law, race, and history, such as the law on removal of Confederate monuments, the abortive $2.5 million legal settlement with the Sons of Confederate Veterans, the moratorium on renaming UNC buildings, or the removal of the portrait of slave-trading Judge Thomas Ruffin from the courtroom of our state's highest court. I would hate to think it had something to do with my focusing public attention on ways in which the law has ignored and harmed the interests of African Americans--and still does.  These are matters within my expertise as a legal scholar and historian, the very stuff of the work I do as a university professor.

It would be an ominous sign for the values of a leading research university and of a celebrated academic press if our System’s Board of Governors were to single out faculty members for punishment for voicing their views on matters within their expertise and research.

Did they do that here?  I’d like to hope not.  But they knew nothing else about me.  They never asked about my service as a Press Board member.  They never asked about my leadership as Chair.  So it's hard to imagine a different reason.


Dinner to Cornell Law School

In lateral appointments news, Deborah Dinner,  “a legal historian whose research examines work, gender, capitalism, and the welfare state in the twentieth-century United States,” whose The Sex Equality Dilemma: Work, Family, and Legal Change in Neoliberal America is forthcoming in the Studies in Legal History series at the Cambridge University Press, is moving from Emory to the Cornell Law School.

--Dan Ernst

2021 Boucher Prize to Wood

Laurie Wood (Florida State University) has won the 2021 Boucher Prize from the French Colonial Historical Society for her book, Archipelago of Justice: Law in France's Early Modern Empire, published by Yale University Press in 2020. 

Here's the citation: 
Laurie M. Wood’s Archipelago of Justice: Law in France’s Early Modern Empire is the winner of the 2020 Mary Alice and Philip Boucher prize. Archipelago of Justice offers a major contribution to an emerging scholarship seeking to integrate the histories of the Atlantic and Indian Ocean empires in order to better understand how the early modern French empire operated as a whole. Wood achieves this remarkable accomplishment through her focus on the conseils. In the early modern French empire, the conseils—regional law courts—bound a far-flung and diverse imperial system together through a network of institutions, people, and practices. In Archipelago of Justice, Wood focuses our attention across the entire system of these crucial legal institutions (the administrative equivalent of the parlements of metropolitan France), along with the people who staffed them and the subjects who petitioned them, to show how they created power, order, and the very nature of French colonialism. Based on astonishing archival tenacity, the book is beautifully written through powerful case studies and stories that bring to life both the powerful and the marginalized in vivid detail. Its most powerful and creative intervention is surely at the level of framing. Approaching the conseil and its agents as a whole, Wood navigates from the Caribbean to the Indian Ocean, helping us see these frequently separate worlds together, as they were legally bound together in the early modern era through the fascinating history of the conseil.

Professor Wood will be guest blogging at the LHB in the future. In the meantime: many congratulations!

--Mitra Sharafi 

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Weekend Roundup

  • A Call for Applications for visiting fellowships at the Institute for Interdisciplinary Legal Studies, University of Lucerne (deadline: 30 Sept. 2021)
  • Nate Holdren is interviewed on Injury Impoverished (In These Times). 
  • Arizona State University History PhD candidate William Hobby has won a scholarship to research the “legal and cultural history of conflicts surrounding proposed expansion of the Arizona Snowbowl ski area on the San Francisco Peaks north of Flagstaff, primarily during the 1970s. . . .  'The San Francisco Peaks are sacred to numerous Indigenous nations of the American Southwest, and representatives from the tribes, especially the Diné and Hopi, were active in attempting to stop further development,' Hobby said."
  • ICYMI:

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

Friday, June 18, 2021

Barrett on RBG and the Dumbbell-Lifting Case

John Q. Barrett, St. John's University School of Law, has posted Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Litigating Against Gender Discrimination...and Remembering One Such New York Case, which appears in 16 Judicial Notice 51-61 (2021).

This tribute to Justice Ginsburg, published by the Historical Society of the New York Courts, focuses on her New York State ties and activities.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg was born and raised in Brooklyn and graduated from Cornell University and, later, Columbia Law School. She became a New York lawyer and, in time, a law professor at Columbia and, in 1972, co-director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Women’s Rights Project.

From her ACLU base in New York City, Professor Ginsburg litigated pathmaking cases regarding the equal rights of women and men. She participated in thirty-four cases before the Supreme Court of the United States, including presenting oral arguments to the Justices in six cases.

This article describes that history, and also Ginsburg’s participation in one New York City gender discrimination case that went up to the New York Court of Appeals, the State’s high court, but not, ultimately, to the U.S. Supreme Court. The New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU), the national ACLU’s New York City affiliate, brought this case, Sontag v. Bronstein. It concerned a dumbbell-lifting test that New York City’s civil service commission imposed as a job qualification on two women who were school audio-visual aides; because they failed the weight-lifting test, the City moved to dismiss them from their jobs. They sued, claiming gender discrimination. Their lead attorney was NYCLU lawyer Eve Cary. Joining her on the brief in the New York Court of Appeals was then-Professor Ginsburg. They won—the dumbbell test was sexist government harassment of women, not a bona fide job test.

Justice Ginsburg always remembered the Sontag case, its striking facts, and Eve Cary’s powerful brief. Justice Ginsburg kept that brief close at hand, including as she wrote the Supreme Court’s 1996 landmark gender equality decision, United States v. Virginia. In many senses, that decision was a culmination of the constitutional lawyering that Cary, Ginsburg, and their NYCLU and ACLU colleagues had done, including in Sontag, two decades earlier.

--Dan Ernst

A Symposium on Lash's "Reconstruction Amendments"

This week Balkinization is hosting a symposium on Kurt Lash's new two-volume collection, The Reconstruction Amendments: The Essential Documents (University of Chicago Press, 2021).  The commentators are Christopher Green (Mississippi), Sandy Levinson (Texas), Gerard Magliocca (Indiana), Jennifer Mascot (George Mason), Darrell Miller (Duke), Richard Primus (Michigan), Bradley Rebeiro (BYU), Lee Strang (Toledo), Lea Vandervelde (Iowa), and Jack Balkin (Yale).  Lash will respond.

--Dan Ernst

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Job Announcement: KU Leuven

 [We have the following announcement.  DRE]

The Faculty of Law of KU Leuven, invites scholars to apply for a full-time research professorship in the Research Unit for Roman Law and Legal History. This position is funded by the Special Research Fund (BOFZAP), established by the Flemish Government.    

We are looking for motivated and internationally oriented candidates with an excellent research record and with educational competence in the field of modern legal history. The appointment is expected to start on October 1, 2022. Applications will be evaluated in parallel and independently by 1) the KU Leuven Research Council in a competitive process across academic domains and 2) the faculty advisory committee.  During the first 10 years, the teaching obligations as a research professor will be limited. Afterwards, the position will be transformed into a regular professorship.

This vacancy concerns modern legal history, since 1750. Preferably, the candidate should be adept in the comparative study of historical law, have a view on the Europeanisation and globalization of legal scholarship and see legal history as an integral part of legal thought.

This position is imbedded in the Research Unit for Roman Law and Legal History. The unit consist of 3 professors and about 10 junior researchers. Its research focuses on European and international legal history since the 16th century, and in particular on three themes: the intellectual history of the jus commune, the history of economic law and the history of international law.

Venzke & Heller, eds., "Contingency in International Law: On the Possibility of Different Legal Histories"

New from Oxford University Press: Contingency in International Law: On the Possibility of Different Legal Histories, edited by Ingo Venzke (University of Amsterdam) and Kevin Jon Heller (University of Copenhagen). A description from the Press:

This book poses a question that is deceptive in its simplicity: could international law have been otherwise? Today, there is hardly a serious account left that would consider the path of international law to be necessary, and that would refute the possibility of a different law altogether. But behind every possibility of the past stands a reason why the law developed as it did. Only with a keen sense of why things turned out the way they did is it possible to argue about how the law could plausibly have turned out differently.

The search for contingency in international law is often motivated, as it is in this volume, by a refusal to resign to the present state of affairs. By recovering past possibilities, this volume aims to inform projects of transformative legal change for the future. The book situates that search for contingency theoretically and carries it into practice across many fields, with chapters discussing human rights and armed conflict, migrants and refugees, the sea and natural resources, foreign investments and trade. In doing so, it shows how politically charged questions about contingency have always been.

The Table of Contents:

Tambe on sexual maturity laws in India

 We missed this one back in 2019, when Ashwini Tambe (University of Maryland College Park) published Defining Girlhood in India: A Transnational History of Sexual Maturity Laws with the University of Illinois Press. From the publisher: 

At what age do girls gain the maturity to make sexual choices? This question provokes especially vexed debates in India, where early marriage is a widespread practice. India has served as a focal problem site in NGO campaigns and intergovernmental conferences setting age standards for sexual maturity. Over the last century, the country shifted the legal age of marriage from twelve, among the lowest in the world, to eighteen, at the high end of the global spectrum.

Ashwini Tambe illuminates the ideas that shaped such shifts: how the concept of adolescence as a sheltered phase led to delaying both marriage and legal adulthood; how the imperative of population control influenced laws on marriage age; and how imperial moral hierarchies between nations provoked defensive postures within India. Tambe's transnational feminist approach to legal history shows how intergovernmental debates influenced Indian laws and how expert discourses in India changed UN terminology about girls. Ultimately, the well-meaning focus on child marriage became tethered less to the well-being of girls themselves and more to parents' interests, population control targets, and the preservation of national reputation.

Praise for the book:

 "Defining Girlhood makes significant interventions in the historiography of childhood and youth in South Asia, which often treats the child as ungendered and has had little to say about girls specifically. Tambe's work also speaks to historians of gender, who have tended to neglect the significance of girlhood as a category distinct from womanhood. Perhaps most importantly, the book brings historical and geographic specificity to our understanding of girlhood."--Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth

"Tambe’s book is a compelling read, making the case that contemporary development engagements with girls are rooted in a history of imperialist discourse that rendered girlhood central to debates on civilization and modernity."--Journal of South Asian Development

"Who is a girl? Tracking this not-so-simple question from the late-colonial to the contemporary moment, Ashwini Tambe weaves an intellectual, cultural, and transnational history of the girl question in India. Garnering an astonishing range of sources and crafted in sparkling prose, Defining Girlhood in India illuminates the scientific racism at the heart of British colonial efforts to link early puberty to climate and Indian backwardness; Indian nationalist arguments about parental control of the sexual lives of girls; US and Indian psychologist constructions of adolescence and their playful representations in vernacular magazines; demographers' claims about raising the marriage age to control high fertility rates; and the state and international development agencies' discovery that investing in girls is good for development. In the process, the travels of knowledge from the imperial heartland to India but also from South Asia to international forums and discourses are meticulously mapped. This book should be required reading for courses in transnational feminism and South Asian studies." - Priti Ramamurthy

"A fascinating book on the politics of girlhood in India within the contexts of a global morality discourse, national interests, and international law. Tambe makes an exceptional contribution to girlhood studies." - Sylvanna M. Falcón

Further information is available here.

--Mitra Sharafi

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Lovelace, Jr., "Of Protest and Property: An Essay in Pursuit of Justice for Breonna Taylor"

Thirteen law journals recently published symposium essays on the theme of "Reckoning and Reformation: Reflections and Legal Responses to Racial Subordination and Structural Marginalization." One of the essays published by Northwestern Law Review was by legal historian H. Timothy Lovelace, Jr. (Duke University School of Law). Here's the abstract:

In March 2020, Louisville police officers fatally shot Breonna Taylor in her apartment while executing a no-knock warrant. There was great outrage over the killing of the innocent woman, and Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron led an investigation of the officer-involved shooting.

Activists protested in Louisville after Taylor’s killing,and when Cameron’s investigation appeared stalled, these activists even conducted a sit-in on Cameron’s front lawn. They demanded immediate justice for Taylor. Cameron sharply responded, lecturing the activists on how to achieve justice. He contended that neither trespassing on private property nor escalationi n tactics could advance the cause of justice.

Cameron’s bold assertion invites a discussion of how civil rights activists have and continue to use trespassing and escalation to pursue justice. This Essay explores the relationship between civil rights and property rights and finds parallels between the sit-in movement of the 1960s and the Black Lives Matter Movement. This Essay also finds parallels between Cameron’s criticisms of the Black Lives Matter Movement and criticisms of the sit-in movement of the 1960s. The Essay concludes by suggesting paths forward in the struggle to find justice for Taylor.

The full essay, titled "Of Protest and Property: An Essay in Pursuit of Justice for Breonna Taylor," is available here.

-- Karen Tani

CFP: American Political History Conference 2022

[We have the following CFP.  DRE]

American Political History Conference: The Past, Present, and Future of American Democracy.  June 10-11, 2022, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana

At a moment when democracy is under assault in the U.S. and abroad, and when grassroots activism is rapidly and radically altering the terms of political debate, U.S. political history has been thriving, both inside the academy and in the wider world of activism, journalism, and politics. This conference aims to bring together cutting-edge scholarship with new forms of public engagement to use historical research and thinking to understand and address twenty-first century political challenges. This event will bring political historians into conversation with one another and the broader public and grapple with the idea of what it means to study American political history.  It will create opportunities to build networks, share new research, debate ideas, think about the implications of this research in our contemporary setting, and discuss strategies for public engagement.  This conference aims to encourage expansive reassessments of the parameters of American political history and the ways in which we disseminate historical scholarship within and outside the academy.

This conference encourages a diversity of approaches and perspectives while cultivating opportunities for robust dialogue that will continue to expand the field in new ways.  By also including new media formats and individuals who serve as bridges between scholars and the broader public, this conference will address the question of how historians adjust to the abundance of digital opportunities for scholarship, publication, and engagement while confronting the reality of collapsing academic support.

We invite panel and paper submissions that reflect the diversity of the field of American political history, from the Early Republic to recent history, and that will generate debates and discussions over how to define and pursue political history.  As such, we invite historians in a range of subfields and disciplines—legal history, urban history, policy history, diplomatic and transnational history, history of capitalism, history of science, medicine and technology, media studies, and political science—to think about how we write and discuss political history.

We also welcome scholars from different arenas—including academia, public history, public policy, journalism, documentary film, television, and radio—to launch conversations about the contemporary meaning and uses of history.  More than just sharing specific historical insights, this conference aims to bring together an intellectual community of historians within and beyond academia to inspire conversations about the uses of history, the public responsibilities of historians to engage a broader audience and the skills needed to do this.  As such, we especially welcome proposals for sessions that move beyond the traditional panel structure and encourage roundtable debates, collaborative think sessions in which participants grapple with certain themes and map out new approaches to them, forums on methodology, and workshops in which participants discuss and develop skills (writing for different genres, political history for the digital age, for example). The program committee is deeply committed to inclusion and diversity. We request session proposals with attention to gendered, racial, and career diversity and will have limited funds available to support graduate students and contingent faculty.  We plan to hold the conference in-person but will also consider proposals for virtual sessions.
Proposal Deadlines: December 15, 2021

Submission Details: Submissions should be up to 500 words with proposals for individual papers or panel, roundtable, or workshop sessions. Each proposal should also include a biographical statement for each participant of up to 150 words that includes contact information. Please submit proposals in one Word or PDF document to Kathryn Cramer Brownell (

Program Committee:

Kathryn Cramer Brownell, Purdue University, Co-chair
Nicole Hemmer, Columbia University, Co-chair
Leah Wright Rigueur, Co-chair
Brent Cebul, University of Pennsylvania
Lindsay Chervinsky, Center for Presidential History, Southern Methodist University
Elizabeth Hinton, Yale University
John S. Huntington, Houston Community College
Kellie Carter Jackson, Wellesley College
Michael Koncewicz, Tamiment Library, New York University
Rachel Shelden, Penn State University

Support for this conference is generously provided by Office of the Provost, Purdue University; Department of History, Purdue University; Jack Miller Center.