Liberty Bell

The ASLH traveled to the Doubletree Hotel, in Philadelphia, for its annual meeting on November 18–20.Both the conference hotel and the overflow hotel across the street sold out in October because of the Philadelphia Marathon, which was run on the same weekend. Despite these facts, 349 people registered for and attended the conference. (The record is still Ottawa in 2008, with 351.) The full program (PDF) of the meeting is available online.  (It is also available in Word format, though slightly less close to what was passed out at the meeting.) The abstracts of the papers given at the conference are available online, a substitute for the summaries of the sessions that used to appear in the Newsletter, late and incomplete.


Plenary Address and Reception

On the 19th, Hendrik Hartog, Class of 1921 Bicentennial Professor in the History of American Law and Liberty at Princeton University, gave the plenary address on “Callings in Legal History and Transformed Lives.” The address was preceded by words of welcome from Dean Roger J. Dennis of the Drexel University School of Law. The president introduced the speaker. The address was followed by a splendid reception in the Great Court of the Drexel University School of Law, sponsored by the School. 

Pictured at the left is Dirk Hartog giving the address; pictured at the right are the conferees indulging themselves at the reception afterwards.


Annual Lunch

The annual lunch was held on the 20th in the Symphony Ballroom of the Doubletree 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 (full descriptions of the prizes and citations are posted at http://www.aslh.net/awards.shtml):

Cromwell Fellows  

William Nelson Cromwell Research Fellowships were awarded to:

Nate Holdren, a PhD Candidate in History at the University of Minnesota for a work currently entitled:  “‘The Compensation Law Put Us Out of Work’: Workplace Injury Law, Medical Examinations, and Disability in the Early Twentieth Century United States.”

Howard Pashman, a JD/PhD Candidate in History at Northwestern University for a work currently entitled:  “Enforcing the Revolution:  Law and Politics in New York, 1776-1783.”

Gautham Rao, who has a PhD in History from the University of Chicago (2008) and is an Assistant Professor at the New Jersey Institute of Technology/Rutgers-Newark for a work currently entitled:  “At the Water’s Edge: Politics and Governance in Revolutionary America.”

Karen M. Tani, who has a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania (2007) and is a PhD Candidate in History at the University of Pennsylvania and a Samuel I. Golieb Fellow in Legal History at the New York University School of Law for a work currently entitled:  “Welfare Rights Before the Movement:  Public Assistance Administration and the Rule of law, 1938-1961.”

Pictured at the left are Nate Holdren and Karen Tani displaying their certificates, while Richard Bernstein and Charles Zelden look serious and Amalia Kessler looks pensive in the background.


This year’s Preyer Memorial Committee chose two 2010 Preyer Scholars:

Katherine Turk (University of Chicago) for her paper “‘Our Militancy is in Our Openness’: The Forgotten History of Gay Employment Activism and the Limits of Title VII” and

Melissa Hayes (Northern Illinois University) for her paper “Sex in the Witness Stand: Intimate Storytelling and Legal Culture in Illinois during the Second Half of the Nineteenth Century.”

The Preyer Scholars presented their papers at a special panel, chaired by Aviam Soifer (University of Hawaii) with Robert W. Gordon (Yale University) and Sarah Barringer Gordon (University of Pennsylvania) serving as commentators.

The Preyer Scholars split the scene before they could get their pictures taken, but they kindly provided us with images. The first picture on the right is Melissa Hayes, the second Katherine Turk.

  Preyer Scholars Preyer Scholars
Cromwell Dissertation Prize  

The William Nelson Cromwell Dissertation Prize The Cromwell Dissertation Prize for 2010 was awarded to Anna Leah Fidelis T. Castañeda for "Creating Exceptional Empire: American Liberal Constitutionalism and the Construction of the Constitutional Order of the Philippine Islands, 1898-1935"—a dissertation submitted for the SJD degree at Harvard University in 2009.

Anna Castañeda is pictured at the left.


The William Nelson Cromwell Book Prize was awarded to Margot Canaday, for The Straight State: Sexuality and Citizenship in Twentieth-Century America , published by the Princeton University Press in 2009.

Margot Canaday is pictured at the right.

  Cromwell Book Prize
Surrency Prize  

This year‘s Surrency Prize was awarded to Daniel Ernst for “The Politics of Administrative Law: New York’s Anti-Bureaucracy Clause and the O’Brian-Wagner Campaign of 1938,” which appeared in the Law and History Review 27:2.

Dan Ernst is pictured at the left looking the wrong way. We'll get a better view of him below.


This year’s Sutherland Prize was awarded to Emily Kadens for her article, “The Puzzle of Judicial Education: The Case of Chief Justice William de Grey,” which appeared in the Brooklyn Law Review 75:1.

Emily Kadens is pictured at the right. If anyone knows who the guys in back of her are, let me know.


  Sutherland Prize
Reid Prize  

The John Phillip Reid Prize for the best book in legal history published in English during the previous the calendar year was awarded to Catherine L. Fisk, for Working Knowledge:  Employee Innovation and the Rise of Corporate Intellectual Property, 1800-1930, published by the University of North Carolina Press in 2009.

Catherine Fisk is pictured at the left.

Ernst Laudatio

Ave atque Vale

Heikki Pihlajamäki rose briefly to announce the creation of the European Society for Comparative Legal History. As their founding document explains it: "Founded on 5 December 2009 (St Nicholas' Eve) in The Hague, the European Society for Comparative Legal History (ESCLH) was born out of frustration with the narrow nationalism and geographical segregation of legal history in contemporary European scholarship and professional organisations." More information about Society and their doings may be found here.

Pictured at the right is Heikki Pihlajamäki looking appropriately serious.

As many members will know, Dan Ernst has had a remarkably successful tenure as co-editor of the Society's monograph series, Studies in Legal History. Dan is retiring from that post this year. (It is indicative of his diligence and efficiency that it will take two people to replace him: Sally Gordon and Holly Brewer. More on this below.) Bruce Mann, the president-elect and chair of the publications committee, asked Dan to come forward and offered a glowing tribute to Dan's work and expressed the thanks of the Society. He then presented Dan with a statuette of Sylvester Stallone as 'Rocky', which your out-of-it webmaster was told is a Philadelphia in-joke.

Pictured at the left are Dan Ernst and Bruce Mann looking appropriately silly.


Results of Elections

There were no changes in either the elected or the appointed officers this year: Constance Backhouse, president; Bruce Mann, president-elect; Maeva Marcus immediate-past-president; Sally Hadden, secretary, and Craig Klafter, treasurer.

Tomiko Brown-Nagin of the University of Virginia, Lyndsay Campbell of the University of Calgary (Canada), David Lieberman of the University of California, Berkeley, and Charles Zelden of Nova Southeastern University were elected to three-year terms on the Board of Directors. For the graduate student seat on the Board of Directors, Greg Ablavsky of the University of Pennsylvania was elected to a three-year term. They replace Alfred L. Brophy of the University of North Carolina, Mary Dudziak of the University of Southern California, Annette Gordon-Reed of Harvard University, Adam Kosto of Columbia University, and Karen M. Tani of the University of Pennsylvania (graduate student representative), 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!

Jim Oldham of Georgetown University and Richard Ross of the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign), were elected to terms on the Nominating Committee. They replace Amalia Kessler of Stanford University and Barbara Welke of the University of Minnesota, whose terms have expired. Once more, our thanks are owing to the outgoing members of the board for their years of faithful service, and congratulations to the new members!

A complete list of the Officers and Directors for 2011 and of those committee members who have already been chosen for 2011 are posted at: http://www.legalhistorian.org/officers.shtml. This page will be updated as additional committee members are appointed.


Studies in Legal History. The retirement of Dan Ernst as co-editor of the series on the American side and the announced retirement of Tom Green in 2011 is co-editor on the non-American side prompted the president, on the recommendation of the publications committee and with the approval of the executive committee, to appoint Sally Gordon of the University of Pennsylvania and Holly Brewer of the University of Maryland as co-editors on the American, and Michael Lobban of Queen Mary College, University of London (UK) as co-editor on the non-American side. The outgoing editors will continue to work with those authors with whom they have been working.

Law and History Review. After seven years of faithful service, Al Brophy asked to be relieved of his responsibilities as editor of book reviews of American books. His place was taken by Dan Hamilton.

Elections. Participation in ASLH elections has always been distressingly low. At this year's meeting the Board authorized the Secretary and the chair of the Membership Committee to work out a system for electronic balloting. The hope is to have this system in place in time for next fall's election.

Student Dues. Faced with a substantial decline in student membership in the Society, perhaps caused by the modest increase in student dues last year, the Board voted to reduce student dues from $25.00 a year to $15.00 a year, beginning in 2012.

Further information about the Board's activities and links to the tentative minutes of its meeting and to the committee reports that it received may be found at: http://www.legalhistorian.org/conferences/2010conference/aslh_2010_conference_report.shtml

Next Year: Atlanta

The Program Committee for the Atlanta meeting (November 10–13, 2011) has been formed.  The call for papers (and other information about the meeting) are posted at: http://www.legalhistorian.org/conferences.htm.


Your webmaster would like to thank Carol F. Lee and Mary L. Dudziak, who took the pictures displayed here. They both note that the pictures would have been better if members of the Society did not insist on moving while their pictures were being taken, particularly in a room in which there was not much light.

URL: http://www.h-net.org /old/conferences/aslh__conference_2010.shtml
last modified:  02/26/11