About this Network

H-Law is H-Net's network on the history of all legal traditions: common-law, civil-law, and all other legal systems.

I. The H-Law Network: Scope, Content, Purpose

Welcome to H-Law, a network of individuals interested in constitutional and legal history. H-Law is an initiative of H-Net and is sponsored by the American Society for Legal History. H-Law solicits discussion of scholarship and of teaching legal and constitutional issues. The network is only as good as its membership. Subscribers should contribute questions about legal and constitutional history and respond to the questions of others.

All submissions must be approved by the editor, who will reject personal attacks on other contributors, irrelevant material, or items that do not further the scholarly dialogue. Complaints raised by subscribers that rejected postings do "further the scholarly dialogue" will be reviewed by the editorial board, who will advise the editor. The decisions of the editor and editorial board will be final.

H-Law’s new network format now offers opportunities for of digital collaboration utilizing built in platforms and multiple forms of media.

The senior editor of H-Law is Williamjames Hull Hoffer, Professor of History, Department of History, Seton Hall University in South Orange, New Jersey, USA. He can be e-mailed at Williamjames.Hoffer@shu.edu.


H-Law posts material relevant to the intellectual, professional, and scholarly concerns of legal and constitutional historians. Contributions should be civil and add to the scholarly discourse on legal and constitutional history. H-Law will not post material which is repetitiously polemical. Contributions must ask or answer historical questions rather than press or pose purely legal and political questions. (We would, for example, entertain discussion on the framers' intentions on original intent, on its uses since the framing, and what the framers' original intent or understanding of some subject was. But we would not post an argument about whether current legal or constitutional controversies ought to be decided according to original intent.) The editor will exercise discretion on these matters in consultation with the editorial board as necessary. 

H-Law, like the other H-Net networks, commissions and publishes reviews of recent books of interest to subscribers; H-Law also selectively cross-posts reviews of such books that have appeared on other H-Net networks and the Law and Politics Book Review list-serv. Editors will indicate in the subject line the original network or list that posted the review. H-Law welcomes comments on any published H-Law review and other cross-posted reviews, so long as these comments abide by the general policies governing postings to H-Law. 

At their own discretion, editors may refer proposed postings to the editorial board for review.  Once a post is sent to the editorial board for review, the board will have one week (seven days) to respond.  The only exception will be time-sensitive conference or event announcements.  Editors will mark those in the subject line. 

The editors reserve the right to reject or to request revisions of any submission for any reason. No post will be altered beyond simple copyediting and formatting for publication, without the author’s consent. 

The editors reserve the right to adjust the timing and pace of publication for editorial or technical reasons. 

Editors reviewing a contribution where the author interweaves a reply among excerpts from previous messages will return the contribution to its author for revision. Quotations should be integrated into the text as in scholarly writing. 

All contributions to H-Law must include the author’s name and affiliation or an indication that the author is an independent scholar.  The author’s email will be included unless the author asks that it not be published. 

Other H-Law Activities

Online Resources

The H-Law web-page has six tabs at the top of the page.  One of them is a “Resources” tab.  H-Law continually updates the content to these categories. For example, we have uploaded to the resources tab our existing collection of sample syllabi and new syllabi recently collected by former H-Law Editorial Board member John Wertheimer.  We also place calls for information on Dissertations and Theses in Progress and for Articles and Journals of Interest.


One of the most useful elements of the Digital Commons is its ability to host multiple blogs.  While the Legal History Blog is an exceptional resource, the members of H-Law’s Editorial Board agree that other, underserved areas or topics in legal history justify starting a new blog(s) on H-Law to serve them.  We are therefore pleased to announce that, starting immediately, H-Law will be hosting a new World Legal History Blog, edited by Nurfadzilah Yahaya, Research Fellow, Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore.

As Fadzilah writes about the new blog, “the World Legal History Blog will explore the many facets of legal history throughout the world by focusing on themes such as legal pluralism, classification, jurisdiction, sovereignty, and territoriality. We will explore the challenges of conducting historical research in multiple languages in several archives throughout the world.  We will also discuss the challenges of crafting a historical narrative out of legal sources. Each week, we will have two blog posts by legal historians focusing on a theme.”

Guidelines for the blog: Blog contributions would ideally focus on a theme of the month and be about 500-800 words long. Suggestions for themes are always welcome. As a collaborative effort, the blog will foster discussion among legal historians who otherwise would not meet due to their respective geographic specializations. Contributors could call attention to a particular archive and/or body of sources that would be useful to others. Contributors could also review books and articles on world legal history, and invite authors to respond. Contributors could start or engage in ongoing debates to be moderated by the editor. All queries and contributions should be emailed to the editor, Fadzilah Yahayaat wlhblawg@gmail.com.


H-Law is pleased to announce that podcaster Siobhan Barco will begin podcasting on H-Law, beginning later this winter.  Barco explains her philosophy of podcasting by drawing on celebrated historian David Brion Davis’s insight: “the problems that surround us today are not to be blamed on individuals or even groups of individuals, but on the human race as a whole, its collective lack of perspective and knowledge of itself.” Barco strongly believe in podcasts as a means of spreading rigorously-researched ideas to a broad audience and thus bringing humanity closer to the self-conception that Davis aspires to.  

H-Law Legal History Podcasts will consist of interviews with authors about their works, especially authors who discuss the historical development of legal paradigms or who use legal texts as windows into unexplored societies. Barco hope to use her training as an attorney, historian, and experienced podcaster to ask the sorts of questions that will provoke deep thought and new insights about the intricate intermingling of law and society.

If any H-Law members are interested in discussing their work on the Legal History Podcast, please reach out toSiobhan Barco at siobhanbarco@gmail.com

H-Law also publishes announcements of interest to historians. These include, but are not limited to: 

1) Other conference announcements and calls for papers 
2) The H-Net job guide
3) The NCC Washington update 
4) Reviews posted to the H-Review website selected by the book review editors 
5) Bibliographic and website announcements 
6) Updates on archives, libraries and museums 
7) Other H-Announce postings of special interest to legal and constitutional historians
8) Obituaries of legal historians and lawyers

H-Law will not publish commercial advertisements or political comment or endorsements. This does not preclude announcements of subscribers' forthcoming publications. The network will not post endorsements of candidates in the elections of professional associations, although it will inform subscribers when it is brought to the editors' attention that legal historians have been nominated, elected, or appointed to important positions in professional associations. H-Law will not publicize or run threads on direct action such as strikes. 

In all cases, the decision of the editors and the editorial board will be final.

II. Editors.

H-Law is edited by field experts approved by the network board and certified by H-Net’s Executive Council.  The editors serve two-year renewable terms and rotate their duties. Editors are listed in the Network Staff List linked from the network’s front page. The editors will solicit postings through the Commons, will approve new subscriptions, will handle routine inquiries, and manage submissions. Anyone with suggestions about what H-Law can and might do is invited to send in ideas by writing to the editorial address. The editors will solicit and post newsletter-type information (calls for conferences, for example, or listings of sessions at conventions.) Like all H-Net networks, H-Law is moderated to edit out material that, in the editors' opinion, is not germane to the network mission, involves technical matters (such as subscription management requests), is inflammatory, or violates evolving, yet common, standards of Internet etiquette. Please read section III below for details about ownership, style, formatting, and content of your messages. H-Net's procedure for resolving disputes over editorial practices is Article II, Section 2.02 of our council policies, located at:


For a list of current editors, visit: https://networks.h-net.org/node/16794/staffpage

III. Communicating Through the Network.

A. Copyright notice. PLEASE READ CAREFULLY. H-Net considers all messages posted to its forums to be a form of publication. Unless otherwise arranged with H-Net, all contributions to H-Law are subject to H-Net’s Terms of Use and its policies concerning copyright and intellectual property, Art. III, Sec. 3.01-3.08 of the H-Net Council Policies. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of H-Net's terms of use. Users of the site verify that they are authorized by copyright holders to submit content to H-Net for publication according to those terms of use, including the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License linked here http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/us/. Unless otherwise indicated, reviews commissioned by H-Net and published under its imprint are subject to a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

A full copy of the H-Net Council Policies and Bylaws and other important information may be found at: http://www.h-net.org/about/.

B. Contributions: The tone and content of H-Law depends directly on subscribers. The editors want to encourage lively, informal, productive discussion and exchange of information. To that end, we ask that contributions be considerate of the needs of a busy audience of scholars, many of whom must pay for their access to the internet. A number of excellent guides to online behavior and style are available on the internet and we invite you consult them.

-- ALL CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE NETWORK MUST BE SIGNED. If your profile on the H-Net Commons is not filled out with a valid name and affiliation or this information is not provided in the body of your posting the editors will delay posting until authorship and email address are confirmed.

-- CONTENT: Editors retain the right to review material for its pertinence, tone, style, and relevance to the network's mission. Ad hominems, unattributed quotations or innuendo, private messages forwarded for posting without permission, or messages that violate the norms of civility and professional courtesy will be rejected. Persistent violators can be removed as subscribers to the network.  H-Net permanently archives its content on the H-Net Commons.  Do not submit material that you consider to be of a private nature or that you would not want available to future readers.

-- STYLE: the default editorial style for discussion postings is that of a letter to the editor. Your remarks can be crafted to suit the tone of an existing discussion thread, but in any case they should address the editor and not make direct personal references to others, except where you are replying directly to a simple query (e.g., "you can find this information in Webster's Third International Dictionary."). Avoid excessive quotation of messages you refer or reply to.

-- FORMAT: While you can submit your posts to the Commons using various fonts, styles and formatting these may be edited by the editor for uniformity and readability.

IV. Technical Information.

When you subscribe to the Commons, H-Net will send you a confirmation message containing important information about managing your subscription. For online help with your subscription see http://networks.h-net.org/help-desk, especially the “Getting Started” section. These guides will help you modify your notifications, unsubscribe from the network, change the e-mail address associated with your profile, and use your “My H-Net” page effectively. If you still have questions after reading the guides please email help@mail.h-net.msu.edu.

V. The H-Law Network Site

The H-Law network site contains the following required information and services:

- The archives of the H-Law network discussions and other uploaded content

- The network's official documents: its about page, lists of board members and editors, contact information, and other founding and information documents.

- Hypertext links to resources in our subject: teaching materials, research archives, other networks.

VI. Advisory Board.

H-Law's daily activities are managed by the editors. Its long-term policies are developed by the advisory board. If you are interested in serving on the board, please contact the current editor. Board members referee incoming articles, reviews, and teaching materials; establish basic subscription restrictions and policy; advise the editors on disputes among editors and subscribers; monitor the network and make active contributions to discussion; and serve as the subscribers' voice in H-Net affairs. You are encouraged to contact any or all of the editorial board members with ideas and concerns about H-Law.

For a list of the current advisory board, visit: https://networks.h-net.org/node/16794/staffpage

VII. Our Parent Organization: H-Net

H-Net is an international consortium of scholars in the humanities and social sciences that creates and coordinates electronic networks, using a variety of media, and with a common objective of advancing humanities and social science teaching and research. H-Net was created to provide a positive, supportive, egalitarian environment for the friendly exchange of ideas and scholarly resources.

The goals of H-NET networks are to enable scholars to easily communicate current research and teaching interests; to discuss new approaches, methods and tools of analysis; to share information on electronic databases; and to test new ideas and share comments on the literature in their fields.

H-Net's Council Policies and Bylaws, along with a list of its officers and committees, is available at: http://www.h-net.org/about/

Among H-Net's many services are:

- Book and software reviews: timely, exhaustive, authoritative, professional, fast. Mailed through our lists and stored in searchable, printable, retrievable format on our site at http://www.h-net.org/reviews.

- Job guide postings: at regular intervals, H-Net offers employment information in a broad array of fields in the humanities and social sciences. https://www.h-net.org/jobs/home.php

- H-Net calendar: announcements of conferences, papers, and professional activities, archived and searchable at our web site. You can visit our site and sample these and other services, at: http://www.h-net.org/announce



E-mail: help@mail.h-net.msu.edu

Postal mail:
506 East Circle Drive
141H Old Horticulture
East Lansing, MI 48824
Phone: (517) 432-5134
Fax: (517) 884-6994