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Hurst, J. Willard (1910–1997)

James Willard Hurst, a law professor at the University of Wisconsin, was both a leading legal historian and a key founder of the law and society movement in the United States. Hurst studied at Williams College, where he focused especially on the progressive historians Charles (1874–1948) and Mary Beard (1876–1958). He attended Harvard Law School, graduated in 1935, and followed graduation with a yearlong research fellowship, working with Felix Frankfurter (1882–1965). He then became a legal secretary to Justice Louis Brandeis (1856–1941), serving for the Supreme Court's 1936 term. He began teaching at Wisconsin the following year and remained there throughout his career.

Hurst built on legal realism and the insights of the progressive historians to reinvent the field of legal history. He rejected the case-centered ...

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