Graduate Student Annual Conference Paper Prize

Applications are Closed

The Stanford Center for Law and History will invite paper submissions from graduate students for its sixth annual conference, “Legal Histories of American Governance: Institutions and the State.”  Operating through a mix of public and private institutions, including many at the local level, the sprawling American state exerts enormous power on the lives of ordinary people in a vast array of contexts. This conference will explore legal histories of the American state and the institutions through which it acts. From schools to courts to public utility commissions, these institutions are a feature of daily life in the United States, from the mundane to the life altering, serving as a key focal point of American governance.

This conference brings together scholars of law and history to examine American state building across a range of different institutions, as well as the many different people whom these institutions affect. Focusing, in particular, on courts, schools, and mechanisms of economic regulation (including public utility commissions and trade associations), this conference explores patterns of state-building that transcend any one domain, exploring the defining features of the American model of governance.

This one-day conference will be held on Friday, April 5th, 2024, at Stanford Law School. This conference will include three panels and a book talk focused on Professor Dylan Penningroth’s recent book, Before the Movement: The Hidden History of Civil Rights. It will conclude with a keynote session featuring Professor Karen Tani of University of Pennsylvania Law School and History Department.

Areas of possible, but certainly not exhaustive, legal-historical interest for the conference include:

Schools & Education 

Truancy & Compulsory Education

Segregation & the State

Incarceration and the Carceral State

Civil Rights in Schools/Courts

SCLH’s goal is to bring together faculty, postdocs, and students for workshops, conferences, and lectures examining the relationships between law and history, broadly defined. With these goals in mind we encourage submissions from scholars working across disciplines, as well as comparative work that examines the American state. 

The conference organizers will select one graduate student as the winner of the SCLH Graduate Student Paper Prize. This student will present on one of the three panels. Funding for travel and housing will be provided.

Application Requirements:

  • CV
  • Paper abstract (500 words or less)

Applications closed on January 29th, 2024. Please direct any questions to

Past and Present Winners

Graduate Student Annual Conference Paper Prize 1

Beck Boorstein

  • 2022 Winner

2022 Conference, “Legal Histories of Disease”

Beck Boorstein, Yale University History Department, “Calling the Shots: Civil Liberties and Anti-Vaccination Lawsuits in the Progressive Era United States, 1900-1920”