I study twentieth century American legal history. My dissertation prospectus, “Views from the Midwest: Rural Communities, Law, and Nation in the Twentieth Century,” examines local government structures in rural Midwestern communities in an effort to make “the rural” legible in new ways to historians as well as legal scholars. I ask, what was the experience of living in and maintaining a rural community in an urbanizing and urbanized America?
You can find working chapter abstracts and details about the archives that I work with, here.
I am also interested in public history, narrative, and micro-history projects. 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)).
Forthcoming, Studies in Law, Politics & Society
Legal Lives in Muller v. Oregon
In addition to my dissertation research, I am also working on an article-sized project about the individuals involved in the 1908 Supreme Court decision, Muller v. Oregon. The wage and hours case is fascinating for the ways in which the lives of laundrywomen and immigrants intersect with national labor reformers. With this project, I am trying to make both a methodological and historical argument. First, I use the micro-history of two individuals, Hans Curt Muller and Mrs. E. Gotcher, to argue that narrative history provides legal historians a useful method of better understanding the meaning and impacts of canonical legal opinions. To take a longer and richer view of Hans’s and Emma’s experiences reveals a more complicated relationship between capital and labor at the turn of the 19th century, a more complicated dynamic between class, race, and gender, and consequently a more complicated significance of Muller. Thus, I try to mark out an argument that Muller v. Oregon is a uniquely valuable case to study because laundries provide a lens on a broad set of issues, including the functions of gender, meaning of technology, economic and cultural worlds of small-scale entrepreneurs and working-class women, efforts of feminist reformers, use of law to remedy employment abuses, and role of ethnicity and race in local economics and politics.
Updated May 2017