About the Hurst Summer Institute

The J. Willard Hurst Summer Institute in Legal History is a biennial event sponsored by American Society for Legal History (ASLH) and traditionally held in June in Madison, Wisconsin, with support from the Institute for Legal Studies of the University of Wisconsin, where the late Professor James Willard Hurst was a founding member of the modern field of legal history.

Each Hurst Institute is organized and chaired by a well-known legal historian and includes visiting senior scholars who lead specialized sessions. An ASLH committee reviews applications and selects 12 early career scholars from around the world as Institute Fellows. The Fellows participate in seminars, meet other legal historians, and present their own work. The program is structured but informal, and features discussions of core readings in legal history and analysis of the work of the participants in the Institute. Fellowships are supported by dedicated funds donated in honor of leading mentors in the field, the alumni of past Hurst fellows, and for other worthy ASLH goals that reflect its commitment to supporting early career scholars.

Scholars in law, history and other disciplines pursuing research on legal history of any part of the world and all time periods are eligible to apply. The seminar and written materials are conducted in English, and we cannot consider non-anglophone applications. Applicants with no formal training in legal history are encouraged to apply. Traditionally, the selection committee has sought to create a cohort of fellows with varying degrees of familiarity with the field, and welcome applications from scholars at an early stage of their career (beginning faculty members, doctoral students who have completed or almost completed their dissertations, and J.D. graduates).

Please visit the Hurst Institute Archives (UW Law School Repository) for more information on about J. Willard Hurst, the legal history tradition at UW Law, and previous Hurst sessions.

2021 Hurst Summer Institute

Applications for the eleventh Hurst Summer Institute, which will take place June 13 – 26, 2021, will be accepted until January 15, 2021.

Applicants should be aware that it is possible that the 2021 session may be held remotely. This would, of course, be a significant change in the program, but we are committed both to supporting early career scholars and to ensuring the safe conduct of the Institute. While a virtual program would be different from an in-person one, we will do everything possible to build community that will be of lasting value to fellows. A decision will likely be made by the end of March in consultation with the ASLH Hurst Committee and accepted Fellows, in light of conditions at the time.

The 2021 Hurst Institute will be chaired by Lauren Benton, Barton M. Biggs Professor of History and Professor of Law at Yale University, and Sarah Barringer Gordon, Arlin M. Adams Professor of Constitutional Law and Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania. 

2021 Hurst Institute Applications »

Previous Sessions

Previous Hurst Institute sessions have been led by distinguished legal history scholars, including Mitra Sharafi (University of Wisconsin), Lawrence Friedman (Stanford University), Robert W. Gordon (Yale and Stanford), Barbara Young Welke (University of Minnesota), and Hendrik Hartog (Princeton University).

2019 Hurst Summer Institute

The 2019 Hurst Institute took place June 9-22, 2019 and was chaired by Mitra Sharafi, Professor of Law at the University of Wisconsin.

For information about previous Hurst sessions, please visit the Hurst Institute Archives (UW Law School Repository).

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