The American Society for Legal History and the Institute for Legal Studies at the University of Wisconsin Law School are pleased to invite applications for the seventh biennial Hurst Summer Institute in Legal History. The purpose of the Hurst Institute is to advance the approach to legal scholarship fostered by J. Willard Hurst in his teaching, mentoring, and scholarship. The “Hurstian perspective” emphasizes the importance of understanding law in context; it is less concerned with the characteristics of law as developed by formal legal institutions than with the way in which positive law manifests itself as the “law in action.” The Hurst Institute assists scholars from law, history, and other disciplines in pursuing research in legal history.

The previous Hurst Institute sessions were led by distinguished legal history scholars Lawrence M. Friedman (Stanford University), Robert W. Gordon (Yale and Stanford) and Barbara Young Welke (University of Minnesota).  The 2013 Hurst Institute will be chaired by Hendrik Hartog, Class of 1921 Bicentennial Professor in the History of American Law and Liberty, Professor of History, and Director of the Program in American Studies at Princeton University. 

The two-week program is structured but informal, and features presentations by guest scholars, discussions of core readings in legal history, and analysis of the work of the participants in the Institute. The general format includes intensive daily sessions Monday-Friday that run through mid-afternoon, a few scheduled social events, and some free time for additional discussion, reading and research. Fellows will have the opportunity to conduct archival work at the Wisconsin Historical Society. (The Society holds a vast array of primary documents and is particularly strong in areas involving nineteenth and twentieth century social movements and labor activism. In addition, the Library possesses an excellent collection of federal and state government material which is largely un-cataloged.)

The ASLH Hurst Selection Committee will select twelve Fellows to participate in this event.

Applicant Qualifications

Preference will be given to applications from scholars in the early stage of their career (beginning faculty members, doctoral students who have completed or almost completed their dissertations, and J.D. graduates with appropriate backgrounds).

Fellowship Requirements

Fellows are expected to be in residence for the entire two-week term of the Institute, to participate in all program activities of the Institute, and to give an informal works-in-progress presentation in the second week of the Institute. Fellows will be required to read certain materials before the sessions begin, and to submit background materials for their presentation by May 27th, two weeks before sessions begin. Fellows also are expected to demonstrate a willingness to engage with scholars from other fields and backgrounds, and to contribute to fostering an atmosphere of collegiality.

Fellowship Terms

The Institute for Legal Studies will pay for approved travel expenses and will provide a private room for each fellow at a hotel located on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus. Most meals will be provided.

Application Process

  1. Submit the following materials in hard copy to Institute for Legal Studies, UW Law School, 975 Bascom Mall, Madison, WI 53706-1399. Please use plain white paper, 8.5 x 11, printed on one side only, and do not fold or staple your documents.
    • Cover sheet with your name and complete contact information.
    • Curriculum Vitae.
    • Statement of Purpose (maximum 500 words) describing your current work, specific research interests, and the broader perspectives on legal history that inform your work.
  2. Arrange to have two letters of recommendation sent to the Hurst Selection Committee, Institute for Legal Studies, UW Law School, 975 Bascom Mall, Madison, WI, 53706-1399. Note that letters may be sent electronically (as pdf files of signed documents on institutional letterhead) to Pam Hollenhorst, ILS Associate Director and Hurst Coordinator, at

Completed applications will be confirmed by email when all required documents have been received.

Deadlines for the 2013 Session

Applications will be accepted from December 1, 2012 - January 15, 2013.
Decisions will be announced by March 15, 2013.


Contact Pam Hollenhorst at

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