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March 10, 2014


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Looking at the three examples of applied legal history projects, would the work you describe require a J.D.?
Are you proposing courses for "history students" or students in a law school?
Is a law school the best department of the typical university to study these matters?
Is "applied legal history" simply the work of a historian that concerns some aspect of law in a society?
What distinguishes a law school course in "applied legal history" from, for example:
1. A heavily researched piece in the NY Times to uncover the history of a statute in Florida (including its purpose, application, relation to the common law, etc.)
2. The work of a historian on the faculty of a university, who assembles an archive and describes the university’s role in a famous desegregation case;
3. A church volunteer who undertakes an investigation at a congregation’s request into a local church’s role during civil rights disputes in the 1950s and 1960s.

Alfred Brophy

Anon, thanks for joining the conversation. I think all three of your examples are work that might be done by law students (or lawyers) working on applied legal history. Having some legal training facilitates working on each of those projects -- and especially the first two.

As to your question "Is 'applied legal history' simply the work of a historian that concerns some aspect of law in a society?" I'd say the answer is no. Perhaps I have a narrower definition of this than Elizabeth Dale, but I think that applied legal history is work that is legal history that engages with some contemporary legal issue, such as the interpretation of a statute or making a case for legislative action.

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