2011 Conference

Loews Hotle

The ASLH traveled to the Loews Atlanta Hotel, in, of course, Atlanta, for its annual meeting on November 10–13. The weather held, and there were no more than the usual number of airline botches. The hotel has a kind of glassy elegance; the bedrooms are large, spare, and comfortable; the conference rooms, confusing. Three hundred and fourteen people registered for the meeting. The full ASLH 2011 Program of the meeting is available online.

Opening Reception
The opening reception was sponsored by the Georgia State University College of Law and and the Georgia Legal History Foundation.

Dead center is your webmaster gesticulating with Avi Soifer. To our right is Chris Fritz talking to the back of Michael Churgin’s head. Seated toward the front are Michael and Carole Landon. Charles Zelden is on the extreme right. Send an email message to webmaster@aslh.net if you can identify any of the others.

Opening Reception

Kerber Plenary

Plenary Address and Reception
On the 11th, Linda K. Kerber, May Brodbeck Professor in Liberal Arts & Sciences (Department of History) and Lecturer in the College of Law at the University of Iowa, gave the plenary address on the theme of ”diamonds are a girl’s best friend,” a passionate account of the development of women’s rights in American legal history. The president introduced the speaker. After the address, the conference adjourned to the Wieland Pavilion of the High Museum of Art for a splendid reception, sponsored by the Emory Law School, Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School, King & Spalding, Mercer University and Mercer School of Law, and University of Georgia Law School with sustaining sponsorship by Alston & Bird, LLP and The Bowden Spratt Law Firm, PC.

Pictured is Linda Kerber giving the address, as the president and president-elect look on; pictured at the right are the conferees indulging themselves at the reception while the saxophones of The Atlanta Saxophone Quartet play on.

Annual Lunch
The annual lunch was held on the 12th in Salon I of the Loews Atlanta Hotel. The president (pictured below) gave the annual address on the state of the Society.
Constance Backhouse

Prizes and Awards
At the annual lunch the president announced the following prizes and awards:

William Nelson Cromwell Research Fellowships were awarded to:
Cynthia Greenlee-Donnell, a Ph.D. candidate in History at Duke University for a work currently entitled: “Daughters of the Nadir: Black Girls and Childhood on Trial in South Carolina Courts, 1885-1905”

Melissa Hayes, who recently completed her Ph.D. in History at Northern Illinois University and is currently an instructor at Shawnee Community College, for a project currently entitled: “Sex in the Witness Stand: Legal Culture, Community, and Out-of- Wedlock Sexual Governance in the Nineteenth-Century Midwest”

Jeffrey Kahn, a Ph.D. candidate in Socio-Cultural Anthropology at the University of Chicago, for a work currently entitled: “Cracking Sovereignty: Haitian Migration and the Transformation of U.S. Immigration Law, 1974-1994”; and

Kimberley Reilly, who recently completed her Ph.D. in History at the University of Chicago and is currently a postdoctoral fellow and lecturer in History at the University of Baltimore, for a work currently entitled: “Bonds of Affection: Marriage in Law and Culture, 1870-1920.”

Cromwell FellowsPictured at the right are Mike Grossberg giving Cynthia Greenlee-Donnell and Melissa Hayes their certificates. For the others the check is in the mail.

Paul L. Murphy Award
Paul L. Murphy (1923–1997) spent much of his career at the University of Minnesota where he rose to the rank of Regent’s Professor of History and American Studies. At the time of his death, he was in the second year of his term as president of the ASLH. During his tenure at Minnesota he became one of the nation’s leading constitutional historians and a mentor to generations of undergraduate and graduate students. Under the auspices of the Society, many of those students contributed to a fund to honor Murphy’s memory by supporting research in United States constitutional history. Within that broad field, and reflecting Murphy’s interests and accomplishments, those who wished to honor his memory were particularly interested in supporting research in civil liberties. At its meeting this year, the board of the Society voted to devote that money to offering two one-time awards of $5,000 to support the completion of books on civil liberties of any sort in any period of American history.

This year’s This year’s Preyer Memorial Committee chose three Preyer Scholars:

Kevin Arlyck (New York University) for his paper “Plaintiffs v. Privateers:  Litigation and Foreign Affairs in the Federal Courts, 1816-1825”;

Anne Fleming (University of Pennsylvania) for her paper “The Borrower’s Tale: A History of Poor Debtors in Lochner Era New York City”; and

Michael Schoeppner (University of Florida) for his paper “Atlantic Emancipations and Originalism: An Atlantic Genealogy of Dred Scott.”

The Preyer Scholars presented their papers at a special panel, chaired by Mary Bilder (Boston College) with William Wiecek (Syracuse University) and Charles McCurdy (University of Virginia) serving as commentators.

Pictured below are Michael Schoeppner and Anne Fleming with Christine Desan beaming at them. Kevin Arlyck split the scene before he could get his picture taken.
Preyer Scholars

Cromwell Article Prize
The William Nelson Cromwell Foundation awarded its Article Prize to Krishanti Vignarajah (Jenner & Block) for her article “The Political Roots of Judicial Legitimacy: Explaining the Enduring Validity of the Insular Cases,”University of Chicago Law Review, 77 (2010) 781–845. Ms. Vignarajah was not able to come to the meeting, so we did not get her picture.

Cromwell Dissertation Prize

The William Nelson Cromwell Dissertation Prize was awarded to Cynthia Nicoletti for “The Great Question of the War: The Legal Status of Secession in the Aftermath of the American Civil War, 1865-1869”—a dissertation submitted for the Ph.D. degree in history at the University of Virginia in 2010.

John Gordon and Cynthia Nicoletti (with apologies to the latter) are pictured.

The William Nelson Cromwell Book Prize was awarded to Mark Brilliant (University of California, Berkeley) for The Color of America Has Changed: How Racial Diversity Shaped Civil rights Reform in California, 1941-1978, published by the Oxford University Press in 2010.

John Gordon and Mark Brilliant (again, with apologies to the latter) are pictured below
Cromwell Book Prize

Surrency Prize

This year‘s Surrency Prize was awarded to Michelle McKinley of the University of Oregon for “Fractional Freedoms: Slavery, Legal Activism, and Ecclesiastical Courts in Colonial Lima, 1593-1689,” which appeared in Law and History Review, 28 (2010) 749–790.

Michelle McKinley is pictured at the right with Steve Siegel. (At least the award-winner looks great.)

This year’s Sutherland Prize was awarded to N. G. Jones of Cambridge University for: “Wills, Trusts and Trusting from the Statute of Uses to Lord Nottingham,” Journal of Legal History, 31 (2010) 273–98. Neil Jones could not come to the meeting, so his student David Waddilove accepted the award for him.

David Waddilove is pictured below with Dick Helmholz. (For once, we got reasonably decent pictures of both of them, but there’s something wrong with the angle: David is taller than Dick, but not that much taller.)

Sutherland Prize

Reid Prize

The John Phillip Reid Award for the best book in legal history published in English during the previous the calendar year was awarded to Christopher Tomlins for Freedom Bound: Law, Labor, and Civic Identity in Colonizing English America, 1580-1865, published by Cambridge University Press in 2010.

Christopher Tomlins is pictured at the right with Gerry Leonard (the taller one).

Laudatio Verdi 1

Ave atque Vale
As many members will know, Tom Green has had a long and remarkably successful tenure as co-editor of the Society’s monograph series, Studies in Legal History. His ability to bring out the best in others’ work is legendary. Tom is retiring from that post this year. A special panel in Tom’s honor was held on Saturday afternoon, at which five of his former students and editees presented short papers, with comments by Dirk Hartog and your webmaster. At the lunch Bruce Mann, the president-elect and chair of the publications committee, asked Tom to come forward and offered a glowing tribute to Tom’s work and expressed the thanks of the Society. He then presented him with, of course, a pipe.

Pictured at the left is Tom Green patiently waiting for Bruce to finish. Pictured below is Tom Green with the pipe.
Laudatio Verdi 2

Honorary Fellows
Until recently the fellows of the American Society for Legal History were among its best kept secrets. The names appeared on the back cover of the Law and History Review (which, in most online versions, was not online), and the election of fellows was recorded in tiny type on the website on a page that virtually no one looked at. In 2011 the board made some important changes in an amendment to the by-laws that were approved by the membership without objection in August of that year: Going forward the category of Corresponding Fellows is abolished. In an increasingly globalized world it seemed odd to have one category that was open only to residents of the United States and Canada and another category that was open only to residents of countries other than the United States and Canada. From now on there will be only one category, Honorary Fellows. Existing Corresponding Fellows may remain as such, if they so choose, or they may choose to become Honorary Fellows.

This year Philip Girard of Dalhousie University (Canada) and William E. Nelson of New York University were elected to the expanded category of Honorary Fellows. The new by-laws call for a recognition of the election, which occurred at the annual meeting, where the Committee on Honors citations of each of them was read. It also calls for the Society to maintain an ‘honor roll’ of its fellows. The new honors page on the website is the beginning that roll. The page contains the citations that were read at the meeting.

Pictured below is Jim Phillips of the University of Toronto, who read the citation, presenting the certificate of the fellowship to Philip Girard. Pictured further below on the right is Bill Nelson accepting the award, while Dirk Hartog, who read the citation, looks on.

Honorary Fellow

Cromwell Book Prize

The Craig Joyce Medal
The Society is run entirely by volunteers. We have no paid employees. Each year over a hundred names are listed on the Society’s list of officers, directors and committee members. Some of these tasks are quite onerous, and the Society could not operate without the willing cooperation of many of its members. A few people contribute their time to the Society over many years in ways that are above and beyond the call of duty, even in an organization whose members have a strong sense of duty. Among such people Craig Joyce stands out. For more years than anyone can remember he has served as chair of the Committee on Conferences and the Annual Meeting. What this means is that he has, at his own expense, wanders around the country looking for appropriate sites for the ASLH annual meeting, negotiating with hotels, and persuading members of the Society in the chosen locale to serve on the Local Arrangements Committee. As if this were not enough, Craig has recently volunteered to chair a new committee on the history of the Society. Your webmaster remembers a conversation with Craig some years ago in which he remarked that it was odd that in a group as literate as the ASLH, whose members professional lives are for the most part dependent on written records, the Society operated as an almost-exclusively oral culture. The only problem was that we did not regularly gather around a fire so that the older members could convey to the younger their accumulated wisdom. The purpose of the new committee is to make sure that the Society has a proper historical record of its more than fifty years of activities.

At its meeting in Atlanta the board voted to create a medal, to be given every two or three years, to acknowledge extraordinary volunteer contributions to the Society. Quite fittingly, they voted to name the medal after Craig Joyce, and, equally fittingly, they voted to name Craig Joyce its first recipient.

Pictured below is the president announcing the award and Craig, looking stunned but pleased.
Cromwell Book Prize
Change of Presidents

Iterum Ave Atque Vale
At the end of the lunch, Constance Backhouse handed over the gavel of the Society to Bruce Mann, she becoming the immediate-past-president and he president. Constance has had a remarkably successful tenure as president. During her presidency, Cambridge University Press began to publish four rather than three issues a year of the Law and History Review; the Society’s Studies series also moved to Cambridge University Press under a new team of editors; the Society’s honors, as indicated above, were revived; and its outreach to scholars and scholarship in other countries expanded considerably.

Constance Backhouse is pictured handing over the gavel to Bruce Mann, who looks remarkably calm, considering.

Closing Reception
On our way to the closing reception through the labyrinthine corridors of the hotel’s conference center, we passed through a reception for what we were told was Atlanta’s Grady Health System’s 6th Annual Academy Awards for Nursing Excellence. Everyone at that reception was dressed to the nines. We were all dressed in academic dowdy. It is perhaps just as well that no one took a picture at that moment; we would not have looked good.

Results of Elections
Bruce H. Mann was elected president; Michael Grossberg was elected president-elect; Constance Backhouse became immediate-past-president. Sally Hadden continues as secretary, and Craig Klafter continues as treasurer. Maeva Marcus ceases to be immediate-past-president and deserves all of our thanks for six years of noble service.

R. B. Bernstein of New York Law School, Christian G. Fritz of the University of New Mexico, Dan Hamilton of the University of Illinois, Linda K. Kerber of the University of Iowa, and Amalia Kessler of Stanford University were elected to three-year terms on the Board of Directors. They replace Martha S. Jones of the University of Michigan, Michael Lobban of Queen Mary College, University of London (UK), Matthew C. Mirow of Florida International University (Miami), Rebecca J. Scott of the University of Michigan, and John Wertheimer of Davidson College, 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!

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

Elections. The experiment with online elections did succeed in getting more members to participate. The number of members casting a ballot is still, however, distressingly low. Ballots are usually available on the website early in September, sometimes it’s a bit later than that. There’s a thirty-day window for voting. This year, the ballots went up in late September, and the availability of the ballot and the names of the candidates were listed on H-Law. Is there anything more that we can do?

Next Year: St. Louis
The Program Committee for the St. Louis meeting (November 8–11, 2012) has been formed.

Your webmaster would like to thank Carol F. Lee, Joe Bagley, and Craig Joyce, who took the pictures displayed here. They all note that the pictures would have been better if members of the Society did not move while their pictures were being taken, particularly in a room in which there was not much light. We’re working on getting a professional photographer, but your webmaster would appreciate it if others would continue to take pictures even if a professional photographer is engaged. Bad light, energetic people, and the fact that the annual lunch moves really quickly combine to make taking pictures a really hit-or-miss operation.