Happy 6th Birthday to The Docket!

Gautham Rao

Gautham Rao is Associate Professor of History at American University and Editor-in-Chief of Law and History Review and temporarily overseeing publication of The Docket.

Five years ago, we took a leap of faith. Professor Sarah Barringer Gordon of the University of Pennsylvania and I had talked about it for a while, and we were willing to take a chance on a new, digital journal of legal history. The American Society for Legal History generously funded the idea and set us up with a digital design firm. Michan Connor joined us as Associate Editor for Digital Projects and took the helm of the new publication.

Five years later, our readers have clicked the dozens of articles, book reviews, interviews, and more in our issues thousands of times. Articles in The Docket have led to or built on forums and special issues in Law and History Review. We’ve covered conferences and festschrifts and more. We’ve tried to give a megaphone to scholars from different backgrounds and doing different kinds of legal history. We’ve also prioritized reaching out to independent scholars, contingent scholars, and others who so often find themselves facing an uphill battle to publishing in the universe of scholarly journals. We pride ourselves on being flexible–we’re able to offer peer review to those who want to work through that process. Other times, we can get pieces done quickly and in a timely fashion.

Of course, there have been plenty of bumps along the way! And we’ve had our share of late nights and grimaces. But it has been worth it as we continue to try and bring you cutting-edge legal history as well as other material that we believe is key to the vitality of legal history as a field of scholarship.

With that last goal in mind, I’m thrilled to announce a new initiative: our Focus on Undergraduate Scholarship. The basic ideas is that we are now accepting submissions from undergraduates working on capstone projects or theses. Let me explain why we believe this is a worthwhile project. First, we believe that it can serve undergrads. They work incredibly hard on these projects, and in the classroom we urge them to think of themselves as rising scholars. But all too often, their completed projects are known only to them and to their faculty mentors. The Docket‘s Focus on Undergraduate Scholarship will allow these scholars to give their work a permanent home. Some might go on to get PhD, but most will do other things. No matter what their futures hold, though, this is a way to ensure their projects will be there for all to see. Faculty members teaching legal history might also get some ideas by seeing what students at other institutions are up to. We hope to host an array of projects, from the traditional thesis to audio, video, artistic, and other possibilities. Just look out for that “Focus on Undergraduate Scholarship” label on our splash page!

Thank you, gentle readers, for all of your support! It has been a wonderful first few years for The Docket. We look forward to many more!