VIDEO: Laura Edwards Examines ‘Narrative of Progress in Women’s Legal Status’ in Old Dominion Lecture

January 9, 2024

On Wednesday, December 6, Laura Edwards (History) presented a talk as part of the Humanities Council’s 2023-24 Old Dominion Public Lecture Series.

The lecture, titled “Women’s Property and the Downward Spiral into Fraud: Questioning the Persistent Narrative of Progress in Women’s Legal Status,” examined the assumption that women’s legal status has steadily improved over time.

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

Her most recent book, “Only the Clothes on Her Back:  Clothing and the Hidden History of Power in the Nineteenth-Century United States,” has received a number of awards, including the Merle Curti Social History Award from the Organization of American Historians for the best book in American social history, and the 2023 John Phillip Reid Book Award from the American Society for Legal History.

As an Old Dominion Research Professor, Edwards is working on her current 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.

Watch the full video of her lecture here.

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