I am a Ph.D. candidate in history at Princeton University studying twentieth-century legal history. My primary fields of interest in social and legal history include the study of place, local governance, gender and sexuality, and race. My dissertation, “Cows, Cars, and Criminals: Rural Communities, Law, and Nation in the Twentieth Century,” applies the methods of urban history to investigate rural communities as unique social and legal spaces. Using a series of case studies from several Midwestern states, including Michigan, Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin, the dissertation argues that while national legal and political culture shifted away from rural communities in the twentieth century, rural Americans continued to express rural-based values and social norms through their use, manipulation, resistance, and understanding of the law, making the process of legally constituting the rural a central feature of twentieth-century America.
I received my undergraduate degree in history and art history from Indiana University, a master’s degree in comparative social policy from Oxford, and a law degree from the University of California, Berkeley. My interdisciplinary background continues to inform my scholarship and interest in public history.
My previous work has focused on recovering marginalized voices within twentieth century social movements, including the civil rights and women’s rights movements. My law review note concerns the hidden civil rights activism behind the landmark constitutional decision, Chambers v. Mississippi (101 Calif. L. Rev. 445 (2013)).
Law & Laundry
In addition to my dissertation research, I am currently working on an article about the intersection of race and gender in the Supreme Court decision, Muller v. Oregon (1908).
Working Abstract: Legal opinions both preserve history and construct the ways in which society remembers historical events. But legal opinions are imperfect archivists of history, and the historical narrative constructed within legal briefs and opinions are, by necessity, shaped by the demands of legal norms and doctrine. This article uses the Supreme Court decision Muller v. Oregon (1908) as a lens to explore the repercussions of the distorted history preserved in legal opinions. Rather than understanding the opinion only as an early piece of feminist jurisprudence, the article offers a threefold argument. First, it locates the multiple feminisms present in the labor conflict that gave rise to the litigation with the women workers. Second, the article offers a reading of Muller that is in conversation with regulations on Chinese laundries and considers the case as part of a line of anti-Chinese laundry legislation. Finally, the article concludes that it is only through attention to place and local labor, gender, and race relationships are these observations made possible
I serve on the Advisory Board of Women Also Know History and am a member of the founding team. #WomenAlsoKnowHistory works to promote and support the work of women historians by offering a concrete way to address explicit and implicit gender bias in public and professional perceptions of historical expertise. You can learn more here, and follow us on Twitter here.
In the past, I have served as an associate blogger for the Legal History Blog, and I continue to tweet @EmilyAPrifogle.
Updated Spring/Summer 2018