Allison Gorsuch

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Research interests: 




I am a PhD candidate studying the 19th century U.S., with a particular focus on the legal history of the early republic. My dissertation, tentatively titled “Working Law: The Bounds and Bonds of Unfree Labor in Territorial Courts” focuses on disputes over slavery, indentured servitude, and contractual fur trade labor in the territorial courts of the Illinois and Wisconsin Territories from about 1800 until 1840. Both a legal and social history, my dissertation captures the difficult legal questions and international tension facing the territorial residents of a new republic, as well as further exploring the types of work employed on the “free soil” of the Midwestern Territories. More broadly, I am interested in the boundaries between slavery and other forms of unfree labor, defining the Midwest as a historical region, and the formation of legal culture in the early republic era of the United States.

At Yale, I work with David Blight, John Faragher, Claire Priest, John Witt, and Ed Rugemer. I completed my examinations in three fields: U.S History: Revolution to Reconstruction, Atlantic World Slavery and the Slave Trade, and American Legal History.   I am also affiliated with the University of Michigan’s Law in Slavery and Freedom project, and a member of the “Slavery as the Powers Attaching to the Rights of Ownership” Research Network sponsored by the Arts & Humanities Research Council in the UK.

Before beginning my graduate study at Yale, I received my B.A. in American Culture from the University of Michigan and served as an Americorps VISTA.