2008 Conference

Fairmont Chateau Laurier in OttawaThe ASLH traveled to the Fairmont Chateau Laurier in Ottawa for its annual meeting on November 13–15. Despite some difficulty with the airline schedules, almost 300 people registered for and attended the conference. The Honourable Madam Justice Rosalie Silberman Abella, Puisne Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada gave a moving plenary address in Tabaret Hall, of the University of Ottawa on “Sixty Years Later: History’s Judgment on The Universal Declaration [of Human Rights]” The address was preceded by words of welcome from the President and an introduction of the speaker by Dean Bruce Feldhthusen of the Faculty of Law of the University. It was followed by brief remarks on the Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History by its editor-in-chief, Professor Jim Phillips of the University of Toronto and a splendid reception in the Rotunda of Tabaret Hall, sponsored by the University of Ottawa, the Osgoode Society, and Carlton University. The full program (PDF) is available online.


Results of Elections

Martha S. Jones of the University of Michigan, Michael Lobban of Queen Mary College, University of London, Matthew C. Mirow of Florida International University (Miami), Rebecca J. Scott of the University of Michigan, and John Wertheimer of Davidson College were elected to three-year terms on the Board of Directors. They replace Michael Grossberg of the University of Indiana, Kenneth F. Ledford of Case Western Reserve University, Lynda Przybyszewski, of the University of Notre Dame, David Sugarman, of Lancaster University (UK), and Emily Zack Tabuteau, of Michigan State University. Our thanks are owing to the outgoing members of the board for their years of faithful service, and congratulations to the new members!

Christina Duffy Burnett of Columbia University was elected to a three-year term on the Nominating Committee. She replaces Christopher Tomlins of the American Bar Foundation, whose term has expired. Once more our thanks are owing to the outgoing member of the committee for his years of faithful service, and congratulations to the new member!


Craig Klafter Begins Term as Treasurer

Pursuant to the by-law amendment that the membership adopted in April 2007, the board voted to split the offices of Secretary and Treasurer. Tom Gallanis agreed to serve as secretary for a three-year term. The President, with the approval of the Executive Committee, also appointed Craig Klafter, of the University of British Columbia, as treasurer-elect, to succeed Bill LaPiana as treasurer. Craig began his term as treasurer in January of this year. (The recently adopted by-law amendments would change this slightly; see below.)


Annual Lunch

Chateau Laurier.

The annual lunch was held on the 15th in the ornate Adam Room of the Chateau Laurier.

Maeva Marcus

Maeva Marcus gave the annual address on the state of the Society.


Prizes and Awards

At the annual lunch on the 15th, Maeva Marcus announced the following prizes and awards

William Nelson Cromwell Research Fellowships were awarded to:

  • Sophia Lee, who holds a law degree from Yale and is a Ph.D. candidate there as well. She is writing about the continuing interactions of labor politics and civil rights law.
  • Leah Weinryb Grosghal, who is working on a Ph.D. at Emory University. She is engaged in a reexamination of the Jehovah’s Witnesses cases of the 1930s and 1940s.
  • Laura Weinrib holds a law degree from Harvard and is a Ph.D. candidate at Princeton. She is completing a dissertation on the emergence of modern understandings of civil liberties in the interwar years.

This year’s Preyer Memorial Committee chose two 2008 Preyer Scholars:

  • Cynthia Nicoletti (University of Virginia), for her paper “The American Civil War as a Trial by Battle.”
  • Joshua Stein (UCLA), for his paper “A Right to Violence: The Meaning of ‘Public’ in Nineteenth-Century American Law Treatises and the Jurisprudence of Violence.”

The Preyer Scholars presented their papers at a special panel, chaired by Laura Kalman (in place of Harry Scheiber who could not make it to the meeting due to illness), with Michael Grossberg ( University of Indiana) and Ariela Gross ( University of Southern California) serving as commentators.

Professors Williams and McMillen

Pictured are Professors Williams and McMillen.

The Cromwell Dissertation prize was awarded to Diana Williams for her dissertation “They Call It Marriage”: the Louisiana Interracial Family and the Making of American Legitimacy,” a dissertation submitted for a Ph.D. at Harvard University in 2007.

The Cromwell Book Prize was awarded to Christian W. McMillen for Making Indian Law: The Hualapai Land Case and the Birth of Ethnohistory, published in 2007 by the Yale University Press.

This year‘s Surrency Prize was awarded to Hekki Pihlajamaki for his essay, “The Painful Question: The Fate of Judicial Torture in Early Modern Sweden,” a piece that appeared in the third number of Volume 25 of Law and History Review.

Professor Beattie

Pictured are Professor Beattie with Maeva Marcus.

This year’s Sutherland Prize was awarded to Professor John Beattie for his article, “Sir John Fielding and Public Justice: The Bow Street Magistrate’s Court, 1754-1780,” which appeared in volume 25 of Law and History Review.

The John Phillip Reid Prize for the best book in legal history published in English during the previous the calendar year was awarded to Christian W. McMillen for Making Indian Law: The Hualapai Land Case and the Birth of Ethnohistory, published in 2007 by the Yale University Press.



At its annual meeting, the Board voted to discontinue the paper edition of the Newsletter. Mailing out paper copies of the Newsletter costs the Society a large chunk of its modest resources. The Publications Committee has been charged with determining just how we are to proceed from here. We will, of course, continue to make use of the Society’s website. We will certainly experiment with making use of email communication for those who are willing to receive such communication by email. This fact makes it even more urgent that those members who have not done so (approximately a quarter) provide us with their email addresses and an indication of whether they are willing to receive communication from the Society via email.

The Board also adopted a number of amendments to the by-laws. These are technical amendments, largely designed to bring the by-laws into conformance with the Society’s recent practices. The amendments are posted here: (PDF). Under the recently adopted amendment procedure, any ten members may petition the president to have the amendments put to the membership for a vote. Otherwise, they will stand adopted after the passage of thirty days from their posting.


Next Year: Dallas

The Program Committee for the Dallas meeting (November 12–14, 2009) has been formed.