This summer, CHS hosted two New England Regional Fellowship scholars with two very different topics. Brendan Gillis, who is completing his Ph.D. at Indiana University, spent two weeks in the Research Center concentrating on our various collections of Justice of the Peace papers and court records from 1760-1800. He was asking two questions: (1) Did American magistrates begin “molding” English law and tradition to fit their needs in the colonies and when? And (2) How did those practices change because of, and did they have any influence on, the Revolution? Interestingly, Brendan is finding that although many magistrates served “His Royal Majesty”, they often interpreted the laws to fit the current situation without regard for tradition.
Christine Groeger, from Harvard University, was studying the rise of credentials between 1870 and 1940. In the 18th and 19th centuries, people often apprenticed or learned a trade on the job. Sometime in the 19th century, it was important to have a degree or a certificate or license to prove one had the requisite skills for a job. Through her research Christine plans on documenting the development of the need for credentials, looking at time, occupation, and gender as determining factors.