When you’re as enthusiastic about old musty dusty law books as The Legal Genealogist is, you kind of lose sight of the fact that, sometimes, somebody has done up the laws in a simpler, easier, more readable style that can really help the researcher who doesn’t happen to have slogged through four years of night law school.
Which is when you’re really glad that someone else reminds you that, sometimes, somebody has done up the laws in a simpler, easier, more readable style that can really help the researcher who doesn’t happen to have slogged through four years of night law school.
Case in point: the email that came in yesterday from reader Andrea Glenn.
Andrea said she was looking forward to tomorrow’s Genealogy & Local History Fair at the Indiana State Library in Indianapolis — and had come across a resource about Indiana law that she found very helpful:
I highly recommend the book, The History of Indiana Law by David J. Bodenhamer, Randall T. Shepard, Ohio University Press, 2014. The volume has been a very useful reference resource for me. You can preview some of the pages including the Appendix with its useful History of Official Indiana Statutes: (at Google Books) Or better yet, borrow a copy from a library!
And Andrea is so right. It’s an excellent resource, one I forget about often. And one that everybody with Indiana roots should at least think about.
The table of contents alone tells you just how useful this book can be. Chapters include:
• The Narratives and Counternarratives of Indiana Legal History
• Indiana’s Constitution in a Nation of Constitutions
• Race, Law, and the Burdens of Indiana History
• Family Law in Indiana: A Domestic Relations Crossroads
• The Poor You Have Always with You: The Problem of the “Sturdy Beggar
• “Conspicuously Enlightened Policy”: Criminal Justice in Indiana
• Juvenile Law: The Quest to Redeem Youthful Offenders
• From Petticoat Slavery to Equality: Women’s Rights in Indiana Law
• The Indiana Bill of Rights: Two Hundred Years of Civil Liberties History
• The Uncertain Promise of Free Public Schooling
• Indiana Courts and Lawyers
• More Than Arbiters of Cases and Controversies: The Growing Impact of the Judiciary on Indiana’s Legal Culture
• Indiana Judges: A Portrait of Judicial Evolution
• Political Pragmatism and Common Sense: Leading Cases of the Indiana Supreme Court
• The U.S. Supreme Court on Circuit in Indiana
And the best part about the book is, it’s available as a hardback volume, for $44 from the publisher, Ohio University Press, or in any number of downloadable formats: it’s a little more than $33.50 as a Kindle book on Amazon; it’s about $27.50 for the Nook at Barnes & Noble; it’s priced at $31.72 from Google Play; and it’s $43.99 through iTunes.
And that’s not all.
The fact is, the Ohio University Press has a whole series of books on legal topics of interest to folks who live in or have ancestors from the midwest, called the Series on Law, Society, and Politics in the Midwest. There are books on the East St. Louis race riot in 1917, Confederate spies during the Civil War, the way German-Americans were treated in Missouri during World War I, and, for our purposes, a bunch of great legal references of immediate use to genealogists. In addition to the Indiana book Andrea has, the series includes:
• Alan G. Gless, ed., The History of Nebraska Law (Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2008).
• Paul Finkelman and Martin J. Hershock, eds., The History of Michigan Law (Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2006).
• Michael Les Benedict and John F. Winkler, eds., The History of Ohio Law, 2 vols. (Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2004).
All of these resources lay down the law, Midwestern style, in readable, well-organized form.
Oh… and Andrea had one more tip for folks coming out to tomorrow’s Genealogy & Local History Fair since, after all, it focuses on criminals in Indiana. It’s George Louis Reinhard, ed., The Criminal Law of Indiana… (Cincinnati: Robert Clarke & Co., 1879), and it’s available on Google Books.
Take a look.
And consider whether one — or more! — belongs in your library.
Hope to see you in Indianapolis tomorrow!