Legal and Constitutional History, 1976 Annual Survey of American Law 427 (1976)
A decade ago I contributed to the Annual Survey of American Law
my first review of the literature in the field of American legal history.
This year I would like to look back over the past ten with the
hope of identifying at least some of the continuities and changes in the
literature during that period.
Continuities in the Literature.-Many legal historians continue to
concentrate on discussions of factual data in their writings about the
American legal past. Some legal historians, such as Robert Mennel in
Thorns and Thistles: Juvenile Delinquents in the United States, 1825-
1940, have enlarged our factual knowledge on a variety of narrow
topics. Others are still writing books and articles which do little other
than cover familiar factual ground. Such works include Alan Reitman'sbook, The Pulse of Freedom: American Liberties, 1920-1970's,5 which
deals with the struggle for civil liberties in the United States during the
past fifty years; Walter Trattner's, From Poor Law to Welfare State: A
History of Social Welfare in America, which discusses the history of the
nation's social welfare system over the past three centuries; and, Milton
Read's article on land tenure in colonial Georgia which retells how
the efforts of Georgia's trustees "to eliminate economic privilege within
their model community in America" resulted in their restricting the
size of farms and the tenure by which they were held.
Date of Authorship for this Version
American legal history
Nelson, William E., "Legal and Constitutional History" (1976). Faculty Scholarship Series. Paper 4502.