2009 Conference

DallasPicThe ASLH traveled to the Fairmont Dallas in (as you might have guessed) Dallas, Texas, for its annual meeting on November 12–14.  About 300 people registered for and attended the conference. Joyce Oldham Appleby, Emerita Professor of History, University of California Los Angeles, gave the plenary address on “Capitalism and the U.S. Constitution: Another Look.”  The address was preceded by words of welcome from Dean John Attanasio of the Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law. The president introduced the speaker. The address was followed by a splendid reception in the Underwood Law Library, sponsored by the SMU Law School.  During the reception, we took time out to honor Joe McKnight, a long-time professor at the SMU Law School and a founding member of the ASLH. His Law School portrait was unveiled, and many of those who attended the reception went upstairs to the library to see Joe’s quite amazing collection of books, which forms of the basis of the Law School’s rare book collection. The full program (PDF) of the meeting is available online.


Results of Elections

Bruce H. Mann, the Carl F. Schipper, Jr. Professor of Law at Harvard University, who ran unopposed, stood elected as President-elect of the Society. As a result of this election, Constance Backhouse of Ottawa University became the President of the Society; Maeva Marcus became Immediate-Past-President, and Charlie Donahue was finally put out to pasture. At the same time, Tom Gallanis, whose term has expired, was replaced as Secretary of the Society by Sally Hadden. We are all in debt to Tom, who, in addition to doing all the things that a corporate secretary normally does, used his drafting skills to put us in a position where the by-laws correspond to what we are actually doing. Craig Klafter continues as Treasurer.

Mary Sarah Bilder of Boston College, Holly Brewer of North Carolina State University, Risa Goluboff of the University of Virginia, Dylan Penningroth of Northwestern University, and Victoria Saker Woeste of the American Bar Foundation were elected to three-year terms on the Board of Directors. They replace Lauren Benton of New York University, Christine Desan of Harvard University, William Forbath of the University of Texas, Sally Hadden of Florida State University, and Robin Chapman Stacey of the University of Washington, whose terms have expired. Our thanks are owing to the outgoing members of the board for their years of faithful service, and congratulations to the new members!

Sarah Barringer Gordon of Pennsylvania University and David Konig of Washington University (St. Louis) were elected to three-year terms on the Nominating Committee. They replace Christopher Capozzola of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and David S. Tanenhaus of the University of Nevada (Las Vegas), whose terms have expired. Once more our thanks are owing to the outgoing members of the committee for their years of faithful service, and congratulations to the new members!


Annual Lunch

The annual lunch was held on the 14th in the ornate Venice Room of the Fairmont Dallas.

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:

Dirk Hartog

Pictured are Dirk Hartog and the president.

We began with a prize not given. Dirk Hartog, in his capacity as chair of the American Historical Association’s Littleton-Griswold Prize Committee rose to announce that the Littleton-Griswold Prize Committee had decided to confine that prize to monographs. The Society’s own Reid Prize Committee had come to the same conclusion. Hence, neither committee considered the three-volume Cambridge History of Law in America edited by Michael Grossberg and Christopher Tomlins, published by Cambridge University Press in 2008. In his individual capacity and on behalf of the other members of the Littleton-Griswold Committee in their individual capacities, Hartog praised the Cambridge History as a remarkable achievement.


William Nelson Cromwell Research Fellowships were awarded to:

Research Awards and Fellowships

Pictured are Mike Grossberg, the chair of the Committee on Research Awards and Fellowships, Kevin Arlyck, and Kelly Kennington.

Kevin Arlyck, who holds a law degree from New York University and is a Ph.D. candidate there as well, is completing a dissertation on the role of lawyers and federal courts in American foreign policy during the first decades after independence.

Mark Hanna who holds a Ph.D. from Harvard University and is an assistant professor at The College of William & Mary, is working on the law of piracy in colonial America.

Kelly Kennington who holds a Ph.D. from Duke University and is a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Wisconsin Law School, is working on a study of slavery and freedom in antebellum America by examining lawsuits for freedom filed in the border city of St. Louis, the site of the Dred Scott case.

Felicity Turner, who is a Ph.D. candidate at Duke University, is in the midst of a dissertation on infanticide in the nineteenth century United States as a way to probe the changing legal status of women and their relationship to the state.

Kyle Volk, who holds a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago and is an assistant professor at the University of Montana (Missoula), is working on majority rule and minority rights in the decades before the American Civil War.



Pictured at the right are David Konig, the chair of the Preyer Memorial Committee, Cary Franklin, and Elizabeth Katz.

This year’s Preyer Memorial Committee chose two 2009 Preyer Scholars:

Cary Franklin (J.D. Yale University; now Irving S. Ribicoff Scholar at Yale Law School) for her paper “Sex Roles and the Foundations of Constitutional Sex Discrimination Law,” and

Elizabeth Katz (J.D., University of Virginia; now clerk, United States District Court, District of Maryland) for her paper “’Wife Beating’ and ‘Uninvited Kisses’ in the Supreme Court and Society in the Early Twentieth Century.”

The Preyer Scholars presented their papers at a special panel, chaired by David Konig with Susan Appleton, (Washington University) and Sandra VanBurkleo (Wayne State University) serving as commentators.


Cromwell Prizes

Pictured are Richard Ross, the chair of the Advisory Committee on the Cromwell Prizes, and Jed Shugerman.

The William Nelson Cromwell Dissertation Prize was awarded to Jed Shugerman for his dissertation “The People’s Courts: The Rise of Judicial Elections and Judicial Power in America”—a dissertation submitted for a Ph.D. at Yale University in 2008.


The William Nelson Cromwell Book Prize was awarded to Rebecca M. McLennan, for The Crisis of Imprisonment: Protest, Politics, and the Making of the American Penal State, 1776-1941, published by the Cambridge University Press in 2008.


Gautham Rao and the president

Gautham Rao and the president

This year‘s Surrency Prize was awarded to Gautham Rao for “The Federal Posse Comitatus Doctrine: Slavery, Compulsion, and Statecraft in Mid-Nineteenth-Century America,” which appeared in Volume 26 of Law and History Review.


This year’s Sutherland Prize was awarded to Paul D. Halliday and G. Edward White for their joint article, “The Suspension Clause: English Text, Imperial Contexts, and American Implications,” which appeared in Volume 94 of the Virginia Law 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 was awarded to Rebecca M. McLennan, for The Crisis of Imprisonment: Protest, Politics, and the Making of the American Penal State, 1776-1941, published by the Cambridge University Press in 2008.



Charlie Donahue

Charlie Donahue waving his arms around to explain this at the annual lunch

The President called on Charlie Donahue to announce that the Society’s website would be moving from http://h-net.org/~law/ASLH/ to http://www.legalhistorian.org/ shortly after the meeting. (If you’re reading this, you’ve caught the move.)

Those who reach the site through http://www.aslh.net/ should notice no change.

Those who reach the site through the h-net site will have to change their bookmarks/favorites.


Ave atque Vale

Maeva and Backhouse

The outgoing and incoming presidents.

At the end of the lunch, the president handed over the gavel to the incoming president, Constance Backhouse. Maeva has had a remarkably successful presidency. At the reception on Thursday night the outgoing Immediate Past President offered a few remarks praising Maeva’s scholarly and administrative achievements. We all wish Constance the best and are looking forward to working with her over the course of the next two years.



The transfer from the University of Illinois Press to the Cambridge University Press for the publication of the Law & History Review and the maintenance of our membership list has caused some temporary problems. The University of Illinois Press, without informing us, took down their website for the Review in September. Until Cambridge has its website up, which ought to happen in a couple of weeks, you need to renew your membership by mail.

Although the transfer to the Cambridge University Press is favorable for some members (those with foreign addresses no longer have to pay a surcharge) and does not a affect the vast majority of individual members (dues will remain the same), it will necessitate a dues increase for a small group of members. The Board voted to increase the dues for student members from $20.00 to $25.00 per year and of emeritus members from $20.00 to $35.00 per year.

The Board also adopted an amendment to the by-laws. Our arrangements with the Cambridge University Press involves our handing over to them our institutional members. From here on, institutions will not be members of the Society but simply subscribers to the Review. 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. (See 2008 conference notes for details)



Next Year: Philadelphia

The Program Committee for the Philadelphia meeting (November 18–21, 2010) has been formed.



Your webmaster would like to thank Carol F. Lee, who took the pictures displayed here when the normal arrangements for taking pictures broke down because of a miscommunication. She notes that the pictures would have been better if members of the Society did not insist on moving while their pictures were being taken, a particularly difficult problem in a room in which there was not much light.