Law and legal practice modernized in the nineteenth-century United States. We are studying and visualizing the history of the modernization of American law.
Oral pleadings and oracular judges gave way to published decisions and codified statutes. Local customs and agrarian rhythms were exchanged for nationally uniform creditor remedies in sync with fast-paced merchant finance. Jurists systematized law into hardened categories of public and private, learned and lay, independent white men and dependent, women, children, and ethnic and religious minorities.
The textual record of legal modernization is vast. Hundreds of volumes of regulations were formulated, copied, and re-formulated by legislatures. Millions of case reports became the authoritative building blocks for the thousands of treatises from which modern American law was constructed. Our projects analyzing legal modernism’s textual history are gathered here.
To date, we have traced the diffusion of New York procedure codes and creditor remedies across the United States during Reconstruction. We are in process of merging corpora from Harvard Law School’s Caselaw Access Project and Gale’s Making of Modern Law: Legal Treatises datasets, for which we have developed preliminary analysis and visualizations.
Publications, visualizations, & talks
Kellen Funk, “Making American Law Modern: Digital Computation and the Search for U.S. Legal Modernity,” plenary talk at Digital Methods and Resources in Legal History, Max Planck Institute for Legal History and Legal Theory, Frankfurt am Main, Germany, 1 March 2021.
Kellen Funk and Lincoln Mullen, “The Spine of American Law: Digital Text Analysis and U.S. Legal Practice,” American Historical Review 123, no. 1 (2018): 132–164, https://doi.org/10.1093/ahr/123.1.132.
Kellen Funk and Lincoln Mullen, “A Servile Copy: Text Reuse and Medium Data in American Civil Procedure,” in Forum: Die geisteswissenschaftliche Perspektive: Welche Forschungsergebnisse lassen Digital Humanities erwarten? [Forum: With the Eyes of a Humanities Scholar: What Results Can We Expect from Digital Humanities?], 24 Rechtsgeschichte [Legal History] (2016): 341–43, https://doi.org/10.12946/rg24/341-343.
Kellen Funk and Lincoln Mullen, “The Migration of the Field Code” (working paper), 7 February 2016, https://doi.org/10.31235/osf.io/nfg92.
Source code and datasets
We are commited to publishing our source code and any datasets that we generate as open access, open source resources.
The source code for our ongoing work is published in a GitHub repository.
Our article on “The Spine of American Law” featured a research compendium with the datasets that supported the article. The entire compendium can be download at the American Historical Review.
That article featured clusters of sections from the state codes of civil procedure derived from Field Code. We believe those clusters would be useful to researchers seeking to understand the development of procedural law. Those procedure code clusters can be downloaded from this website. They have been assigned the following DOI: https://doi.org/10.31835/legalmodernism.field-code-clusters.
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- . We have launched a website to gather our work on legal modernism and host our forthcoming visualizations.
- . Kellen Funk presented a prospectus on “Making Law Modern” at the New Approaches to Digital Legal History workshop at Duke University and the University of New South Wales.
- . Kellen Funk delivered a plenary keynote “In Search of Modern Law” at the Max Planck Institute for Legal History and Legal Theory conference on Digital Methods and Resources in Legal History. A video of his keynote is available.
- . Kellen Funk and Lincoln Mullen presented a prospectus on “Making Law Modern” at the 2020 annual meeting of the American Historical Association in Chicago.
- . Kellen Funk presented a prospectus on “Making Law Modern” at the Northwestern University School of Law conference on Law and Textual Analysis.
- . We published an article “The Spine of American Law: Digital Text Analysis and U.S. Legal Practice” in the American Historical Review.
- . We appeared on the American Historical Review podcast with editor Konstantin Dierks to talk about our upcoming article on the Field Code.
- . Kellen Funk presented “The Lawyers’ Code: Tracking the Migration and Influence of the Field Code” at the annual Civil Procedure Workshop in Tucson.
- . Kellen Funk and Lincoln Mullen presented “The Lawyers’ Code: Tracking the Migration and Influence of the Field Code” and ran a hands-on methods workshop at the Digital Legal History pre-conference for the American Society of Legal History annual meeting in Toronto.
- . We published a brief open-access article “A Servile Copy: Text Reuse and Medium Data in American Civil Procedure” in Rechtsgeschichte.
- . Lincoln Mullen presented “Detecting Text Reuse in Nineteenth-Century Legal Codes of Civil Procedure” at the Digital Humanities Summer Institute Colloquium at the University of Victoria.
- . We made a working paper on “The Migration of the Field Code” available.
Kellen Funk, lead researcher, Columbia Law School
Sean Kwon, research assistant, Columbia Law School
Lincoln Mullen, lead researcher, Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media
Jay Zern Ng, research assistant, The Data Science Institute at Columbia University
Conor Regan, research assistant, Columbia Law School
Samier Saeed, research assistant, Columbia Law School
If you would like to cite this project, we recommend the following citatation.
Kellen Funk and Lincoln Mullen, Legal Modernism, Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media (2022–): https://doi.org/10.31835/legalmodernism.