Susan J. Pearson to Deliver Annual Hendricks Law and History Lecture
On Friday, April 8, Northwestern University history professor Susan J. Pearson will deliver the annual Hendricks Lecture in Law and History. The title of Pearson’s talk is “What’s in a Document? Birth Registration and Identity in American Law and History.”
The lecture will begin at 3:00 p.m. in the Faculty Lounge, Sydney Lewis Hall, on the campus of Washington and Lee. The event is free and open to the public.
Pearson is an historian of the nineteenth- and early twentieth-century United States. She is particularly interested in the cultural politics of reform, the expansion of the state and forms of governance, and the development of American liberalism.
Pearson is the author of the prize-winning book, “The Rights of the Defenseless: Protecting Animals and Children in Gilded Age America” and essays and articles in The Journal of American History, History and Theory, The Journal of Social History, and the Journal of the Civil War Era.
Pearson’s new book, “The Birth Certificate: An American History,” examines both how birth registration became compulsory in the United States and how birth certificates became trusted forms of identification. She shows how states and the federal government used birth registration to collect, collate, and disseminate knowledge about their populations, and she shows how birth certificates became central to the administration of social policy and citizenship.
The Law and History lecture series at W&L was endowed by alumnus Pete Hendricks (’66A, ’69L), who has a private practice in Atlanta specializing in land use zoning and government permitting. A history major himself, Hendricks also endowed the Hendricks History Major Stipend Fund and the Ollinger Crenshaw Prize in History at the University in honor of his favorite professor.