Laura F. Edwards Receives New Award for “Only the Clothes on Her Back”

November 15, 2023

Laura F. Edwards (History) received the 2023 John Phillip Reid Book Award from the American Society for Legal History for her most recent book, “Only the Clothes on Her Back: Clothing and the Hidden History of Power in the Nineteenth-Century United States” (Oxford University Press, 2022), which examines the history of the U.S. legal system through the lens of textiles and the people who used them. The prize is awarded annually and recognizes the best monograph by a mid-career or senior scholar, published in English in a field related to Anglo-American legal history.

“Only the Clothes on Her Back” has received numerous awards since its publication, including the SHEAR Book Prize for the best primary scholarly contribution to the history of the early American republic, and the Merle Curti Social History Award from the Organization of American Historians for the best book in American social history.

Edwards, the Class of 1921 Bicentennial Professor in the History of American Law and Liberty, is a legal historian whose research focuses on the nineteenth-century United States, with an emphasis on people’s interactions with law and the legal system. 

She is currently a 2023-24 Old Dominion Research Professor in the Humanities Council, where she joins a yearlong program designed to provide additional research time and to enhance the humanities community at Princeton more broadly. She also serves as a faculty fellow in the Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts.

As an Old Dominion Research Professor, she is focusing on her latest book project, “No Account: Credit, Property, and Women’s Lives in the United States,” which traces the material consequences of the shift from unwritten to written forms of law in the lives of women in the nineteenth century United States. On December 6, Edwards will present “Women’s Property and the Downward Spiral into Fraud: Questioning the Persistent Narrative of Progress in Women’s Legal Status,” as part of the Council’s 2023-24 Old Dominion Public Lecture Series.

Visit the Council’s Faculty Bookshelf to read more about “Only the Clothes on Her Back.”

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