Hendrik “Dirk” Hartog is the Class of 1921 Bicentennial Professor in the History of American Law and Liberty. For a decade, he was the director of Princeton University’s Program in American Studies. Hartog has spent his scholarly life obsessed with the difficulties and opportunities that come with studying how broad political and cultural themes have been expressed in everyday legal conflicts. He has worked in a variety of areas of American legal history: on the history of city life, on the history of constitutional rights claims, on the history of marriage, on the history of slavery and emancipation, and on the historiography of legal change and of legal history. He is the author of Public Property and Private Power: the Corporation of the City of New York in American Law, 1730-1870 (1983), Man and Wife in America: a History (2000), Someday All This Will Be Yours: A History of Inheritance and Old Age (2012), and The Trouble with Minna: A Case of Slavery and Emancipation in the Antebellum North (2018). He has been awarded a variety of national fellowships and lectureships, and for a decade he coedited Studies in Legal History, the book series of the American Society for Legal History. In 2016, he was made an Honorary Fellow of the American Society for Legal History. He is affiliated with Princeton’s Program in Law and Public Affairs, with the Program in American Studies, and with the Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies. Before coming to Princeton, he taught at the University of Wisconsin Law School (1982-92) and at the Indiana University (Bloomington) School of Law (1977-82).
Professor Hartog has been working on a history of Gibbons v. Ogden, the 1824 case where Chief Justice John Marshall first invoked the Contract Clause of the U.S. Constitution. He is exploring the case as both a very local family drama and as an expression of the rise and domestication of anti-monopoly sentiments. Hartog is also beginning work on a history of property law as a teaching subject, focusing on the significance of the Cold War as an underlying presence.
A.B., Carleton College, 1970
J.D., New York University School of Law,1973 Ph.D., Brandeis University, 1981
Professor Hartog teaches graduate and undergraduate courses on American legal history, family history, legal thought, and historiography. He has also cotaught a variety of interdisciplinary courses through the Program in American Studies. As a law school professor he previously taught property law, local government law, and family law, as well as legal history.