Participant Info

First Name
Last Name
University of Notre Dame
Website URL
fashion, law, constitution, church and state, civil rights, home economics
Additional Contact Information

Personal Info

About Me

I am interested in how people have used the power and authority of the state in the name of race, morality, religion, even beauty. My most recent book, The Lost Art of Dress (Basic, 2014) was a New York Times bestseller. It explains how Americans learned—and forgot—how to dress in the modern age. I became interested in the topic when I discovered that the U.S. Department of Agriculture had published pamphlets on how to buy shoes, and that the department had once housed the Bureau of Home Economics and its Division of Textiles and Clothing.

In my legal work, I am the  author of the American Historical Association’s guide to Religion, Morality and the Constitutional Order (2011), part of the AHA’s series that introduces college teachers to legal topics. My work on law and religion grew out of my interest in Justice David Brewer, the most widely read jurist of the late 19th Century. My 2004 Journal of American History article, “Judicial Conservatism and Protestant Faith: The Case of Justice David J. Brewer,” is part of larger set of projects on the role of religious faith in the legal thought of ministers, doctors, and jurists in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. My first book, The Republic According to John Marshall Harlan (UNC, 1999), explains how the only consistent 19th Century defender of black civil rights on the U.S. Supreme Court justified his famous dissents, including that in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896).

I am finishing a book on the Cincinnati Bible War, a dispute that erupted when city’s school board ended Bible reading in 1869. My  article in the Journal of Supreme Court History on Stanley Matthews, the lead attorney for the anti-Bible legal team, won the Hughes-Gossett award in 2017. I received a Public Scholar Award for 2016 from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

I teach courses on a wide range of topics in legal and cultural history, including crime, the gap between popular and academic history, the era of the U.S. Civil War and Reconstruction, and the history of modern fashion and dress. I am concurrent faculty at the Notre Dame Law School, affiliated faculty with the Gender Studies program, and my courses are cross-listed with Constitutional Studies and the Program in Science, Technology, and Values.

Recent Publications
  • “Fighting the Philistines: Bishop John Purcell, The Catholic Disruption, and the Making of Memory,” for U. S. Catholic Historian, forthcoming 2020.
  • “David J. Brewer,” and “John Marshall Harlan the Elder,” Great Christian Jurists in American History edited by Daniel L. Dreisbach and Mark Hall, Cambridge University Press, 2019.
  • “Scarlet Fever, Stanley Matthews, and the Cincinnati Bible War,” Journal of Supreme Court History, 42:3 (November 2017): 256-274; Winner of the 2017 Hughes-Gossett Award
  • The Lost Art of Dress: The Women Who Once Made America Stylish (Basic Books, 2014)
  • Religion, Morality and the Constitutional Order (American Historical Association, (2011)
Media Coverage
The Lost Art of Dress was reviewed in the New York Times, excerpted in the Wall Street Journal. I have been interviewed by the History Guys on both fashion and law. See for more. Un
Country Focus
United States
Expertise by Geography
United States
Expertise by Chronology
5, 8
Expertise by Topic
Law, Material Culture, Religion, Women