New Directions in Southern Legal History

Edited by Sally E. Hadden and Patricia Hagler Minter

Dynamism and diversity in the study of southern legal history


"Constitutional and legal history converge comfortably in this welcome rethinking of the southern legal heritage. Signposts is a milestone in the emergence of a more encompassing vision of the legal and constitutional history of the South."
—William M. Wiecek, author of The Birth of the Modern Constitution: The United States Supreme Court, 1941-1953

"This collection is truly first rate, offering essays that plow new ground or offer fresh perspectives on more familiar topics. While the individual essays are more than worth the price of admission, together they offer rich insights into the ways law shaped and was shaped by southern society. Hadden and Minter have done an enormous service to the field of legal history by bringing this outstanding group of authors together in a volume that underscores the vitality of southern legal history and sets an ambitious agenda for future scholarship."
—Donald G. Nieman, coeditor of Local Matters: Race, Crime, and Justice in the Nineteenth-Century South

"This exciting anthology promises to stir renewed interest in southern legal history, raising new questions, refocusing old lenses, and shaping research agendas for decades to come."
—Anders Walker, author of The Ghost of Jim Crow: How Southern Moderates Used Brown v. Board of Education to Stall Civil Rights

"This engaging collection of essays demonstrates just how diverse and lively the field of southern legal history has become. Signposts, from its savvy introduction to its closing essay, reminds us of myriad ways, some familiar and many surprising, that southerners used the law to define themselves and their region. This collection is destined to be a foundation for the next generation of southern legal history."
—W. Fitzhugh Brundage, author of The Southern Past: A Clash of Race and Memory

"[Signposts] explore[s] everything from civil rights, succession, reapportionment, prohibition, legal institutions and their evolution, and more, and they provide much food for thought in social issues areas. The result is a scholarly collection recommended for any library strong in regional American history in general and Southern history and culture in particular."
Midwest Book Review

"Professors Hadden and Minter have given us a rich smorgasbord of essays on legal history. . . . Rare would be the person who failed to find something of value from this collection of seventeen essays."
—Walter F. Pratt, Law and Politics Review

“[E]ditors Hadden and Minter seek to demonstrate the “dynamism and diversity” of scholars’ efforts in this field over the past 30 years, and they are successful in that effort. . . .[Signposts] is a valuable contribution that will be appreciated by academics and specialists in the field.”
—M. R. Scherer, Choice

"[T]he research presented here offers something for virtually anyone even remotely interested in southern legal history. . . . Hadden and Minter have not only assembled a worthwhile collection of essays that each stand on their own but they have also helped generate new ways of thinking about southern legal history that are sure to yield similarly fascinating efforts in the future."
—Steven P. Brown, Journal of American History

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In Signposts, Sally E. Hadden and Patricia Hagler Minter have assembled seventeen essays, by both established and rising scholars, that showcase new directions in southern legal history across a wide range of topics, time periods, and locales. The essays will inspire today's scholars to dig even more deeply into the southern legal heritage, in much the same way that David Bodenhamer and James Ely's seminal 1984 work, Ambivalent Legacy, inspired an earlier generation to take up the study of southern legal history.

Contributors to Signposts explore a wide range of subjects related to southern constitutional and legal thought, including real and personal property, civil rights, higher education, gender, secession, reapportionment, prohibition, lynching, legal institutions such as the grand jury, and conflicts between bench and bar. A number of the essayists are concerned with transatlantic connections to southern law and with marginalized groups such as women and native peoples. Taken together, the essays in Signposts show us that understanding how law changes over time is essential to understanding the history of the South.

Contributors: Alfred L. Brophy, Lisa Lindquist Dorr, Laura F. Edwards, James W. Ely Jr., Tim Alan Garrison, Sally E. Hadden, Roman J. Hoyos, Thomas N. Ingersoll, Jessica K. Lowe, Patricia Hagler Minter, Cynthia Nicoletti, Susan Richbourg Parker, Christopher W. Schmidt, Jennifer M. Spear, Christopher R. Waldrep, Peter Wallenstein, Charles L. Zelden.

Southern Legal Studies

Page count: 480 pp.
7 b&w photos, 1 table, 4 figures
Trim size: 6 x 9


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Sally E. Hadden, an associate professor of history at Western Michigan University, is the author of Slave Patrols: Law and Violence in Virginia and the Carolinas and coeditor of The Blackwell Companion to American Legal History. Patricia Hagler Minter, associate professor of history at Western Kentucky University is a coauthor of the 2003 edition of Out of Many Lives, Many Stories: Biographies in American History.