Greetings Legal Historians! Welcome to Boston!

Famously nicknamed “the hub of the solar system” by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Boston has served over the centuries as a center of legal events and controversies that have shaped American legal history. The 1741 Writs of Assistance case and 2003’s Goodridge v. Department of Public Health were both decided about a mile from our meeting site in the Boston Park Plaza Hotel.

The Boston area’s many law schools and history departments are home to some of the longest running legal history workshops and seminars in the country. We hope you’ll find time while you’re here to visit some of the area’s remarkable libraries, archival collections, and museums. The Boston Public Library—worth a visit for the building alone—is just a short walk from the hotel.

Harvard Law School will host Friday’s plenary and reception at its campus at 1585 Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge. Boston University Law School will host Saturday evening’s reception at its campus at 765 Commonwealth Avenue. Many thanks to these outstanding institutions for being such generous hosts.

Download Conference Program


Boston Park Plaza



Boston, MA 02116-3912

The Boston Plaza Hotel is well-located on the eastern edge of the Back Bay, just steps from Boston’s beautiful Public Garden, the shops of Newbury Street, and a short cab ride to the terrific trattorias of the North End (the heart of Italian Boston) or the excellent restaurants and bars of the South End. The Esplanade along the Charles River offers beautiful vistas and easy paths for runners and walkers.

A $179.00 conference rate has been negotiated, and the ASLH has to achieve a minimum number of guest nights booked. The Standing Committee on Annual Meetings and the ASLH Treasurer negotiate with hotels several years in advance and endeavors to secure the lowest possible rates. If you book rooms outside of the group block or take other housing, the Society faces heavy penalties if it falls short of its guarantee. The officers and board urge you to stay at the conference hotel. Note that the cut off for a room booking is Thursday, October 31, 2019.

The hotel registration link is included in the conference registration confirmation email.

Boston Park Plaza

Boston, MA 02116-3912

Click here for directions



  • Boston Logan International Airport

    Most travelers to Boston come into Logan Airport which is very close to the center of town and relatively easy to reach by public transportation. Some flights also come into Manchester, NH, and TF Green Airport in Providence, RI, but it is more difficult to get into Boston from these airports.

    Logan is a hub for JetBlue and Delta airlines, but it serves all other major domestic carriers and most major international carriers as well.

    Public Transportation

    The MTBA Silver Line connects all six terminals to South Station, a major hub, and a free shuttle bus connects passengers to the Blue Line at Airport Station (despite its name, it’s not at the airport itself).

    Silver Line: Boston’s regional mass transit system is called the MBTA (locals call it the “T”). The easiest way to get to the hotel from the airport on the T is to take the (free) Silver Line shuttle that runs from the airport to South Station. The shuttle stops at all the terminals outside baggage claim on the lower level.

    From South Station, you can take the Red Line outbound train, toward Alewife/Cambridge. At the “Park Street” stop, you can either transfer to an outbound Green Line train (there are 5 different Green Line trains, but all of them take you to the Arlington stop near the hotel), or you can walk from the Park Street stop to the hotel, which is .5 miles away. (Note: The Green Line is notoriously slow on its outbound route, so you may save time by walking to the hotel from the Park Street station.)

    Blue Line: You can also take an airport shuttle bus to the “Airport” stop on the Blue Line of the T. From there you would take an inbound Blue Line train and transfer to any outbound Green Line train at Government Center.

    The airport is also served full-time by MBTA bus routes 448, 449, and 459, which stop at Terminal C.

    Taxi Info

    There are taxi stands at every terminal at Logan. A ride from the airport to the Park Plaza Hotel should take between 15-30 minutes and cost between $25-35 depending upon traffic. Note: If you are arriving at rush hour, traffic can be quite bad!

    There are also well-posted signs directing travelers to ride-share pickup locations for Lyft, Uber, etc.

Travel Tips


    Boston is served by Amtrak along the Acela and North East Regional lines. Most trains come into South Station from which it is easy to get around the city by public transportation. Boston is also connected to Providence and many points in the Boston metro-area by the MBTA commuter rail. Some commuter rails come into South Station. Trains from the North (including Amtrak trains coming from Maine or New Hampshire) stop at North Station.


    A number of bus lines (Greyhound, Peter Pan, Megabus, Bolt Bus, etc., as well as regional bus lines linking cities in MA, NH, ME) also come into South Station. The bus station is in a separate building that is a very short (outdoor) walk from the train station and T station.


    If you’re traveling by car, or need further information, see this useful website.


    November can be surprisingly mild or shockingly cold – so plan ahead. The average high temperature is 52̊ and the average low is 38̊, but who knows these days? For up-to-the-minute forecasts, please click here.


  • November 20, 2019

    Symposium on Legal Archives

    What are the archives of law? What definitions and notions of law do we work with as we assemble, read and interpret archive sources? In this workshop that brings historians of South Asia and Latin America working on projects about law, paperwork, bureaucracy and procedure, scholars will draw on their engagement with legal sources and records, as well as their own approach to “reading” legal materials. We will also look at the promise and perils of working with fragmented archives, with sources in multiple languages, and in multiple geographical locations. In course of discussions, we hope to raise questions of knowledge production, indigenous agency and governance. By looking at different frameworks that we can construct around our “archive stories” and considering the legal encounter alongside the archival encounter, we hope to arrive at creative and critical rethinking of what constitutes a legal archive, how it is constructed and read. The workshop will work towards generating a set of teaching resources for bringing legal materials into classrooms.

    This symposium will be hosted at the Center for History and Economics at Harvard University, and run from 9 AM to 4 PM on November 20, 2019. Those interested in attending should contact symposium organizer Kalyani Ramnath at

  • November 20, 2019

    Student Research Colloquium

    On Wednesday, November 20 and Thursday, November 21, immediately before the main conference begins, the American Society for Legal History is hosting our annual Student Research Colloquium. At this event, three faculty members will discuss graduate students’ early-stage research projects with them.

    Applications to participate in this colloquium are due Monday, July 15. Full information about the application process can be found here.

  • November 21, 2019

    Johnson Program for First Book Authors

    On Thursday, November 21, immediately before the main conference begins, the American Society for Legal History (with the support of the Harvard University Law School) is hosting the Johnson Program for First Book Authors, which provides advice and support to scholars working toward the publication of their first books in legal history.

    In conversation with peers and with the advice of senior scholars, the Fellows will develop and revise book proposals and sample chapters. They will also meet with guest editors to learn about approaching and working with publishers. Fellows will meet several times during the year, with the first session being at the ASLH Annual Meeting.

    Participation is by invitation only, but we encourage the ASLH community to chat with the Fellows about their projects throughout the conference. The Johnson Program is made possible by a generous gift from Wallace H. Johnson and support from the ASLH Endowment. This event is closed to the public.

  • November 21, 2019

    Second Book Workshop

    On Thursday, November 21, the American Society for Legal History (with the support of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Department of History) is hosting a pilot program on beginning a second book in legal history. This will be a workshop to help authors who are early in the process of developing second book projects. Often dissertations and first books benefit from the social support of peers and mentors such as dissertation committees and advisors, while second books are often begun with less support and greater additional responsibilities. This workshop aims to provide some of that missing support. It will help participants brainstorm and conceptualize new projects which can eventually become the authors’ second books in legal history. Participants will generate a short book proposal to share with their peers as well as discuss potential issues and strategies relevant to second book projects.

    Participation is by invitation only and closed to the public, but we encourage the ASLH community to chat with the participants about their projects throughout the conference.

  • November 21, 2019

    Symposium on Legal History and the Persistent Power of State and Local Governments

    On Thursday, November 21, immediately before the main conference begins, the American Society for Legal History (with the support of Stanford Law School and Colgate University) is hosting a half-day symposium on the legal history of state and local governments and the persistence of their power across United States history. The symposium will consist of a range of presentations and discussions. Lunch will be made available to those attending.

    The workshop will take place in the Conference Hotel. Any one registered for the main conference is welcome to register for the symposium, though space is limited to thirty-four attendees. Click here to register for the symposium.

  • November 21, 2019

    African Legal History Symposium

    On Thursday, November 21, immediately before the main conference begins, the American Society for Legal History is hosting a symposium on African Legal History. This symposium will feature four panels over the course of the day with twenty-two presentations.

    This symposium is open to the public and ASLH members are warmly welcomed to attend. Click here to register for the symposium.

Host an ASLH Conference

The American Society for Legal History’s Standing Committee on Annual Meetings invites proposals to host or sponsor (in full or in part) a future Annual Meeting. Interesting venues, affordable hotel rates, tax exemption for out-of-state non-profits and reasonable funding support for meeting events are highly favored in site selection.

Upcoming Conference

October 24–26, 2024

The next ASLH Annual Meeting will be held in San Francisco, CA

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