Participant Info

First Name
Last Name
Boston College Law School
Website URL
Constitutional History, Women's History, Framing Period, Founders, American Legal History, Constitutional Convention and Ratification, Early American Republic, Constitution, Privy Council Appeals and Disallowance
Additional Contact Information

Personal Info

About Me

Professor Mary Sarah Bilder is the Founders Professor of Law at Boston College Law School. Her recent scholarship has focused on the Age of the Constitution and the framing generation, transatlantic feminism, James Madison and the Convention record, and colonial and founding era constitutionalism, as well as Robert Morris, the early African American civil rights activist and lawyer.

She has taught at Boston College since 1994 and as a visiting professor at Harvard Law School and Columbia Law School. She teaches in the areas of property, American legal and constitutional history, and trusts and estates, and has twice received the Emil Slizewski Faculty Teaching Award.

She received her B.A. with Honors (English) and the Dean’s Prize from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, her J.D. (magna cum laude) from Harvard Law School, and her A.M. (History) and Ph.D. from Harvard University in the History of American Civilization/American Studies. She was a law clerk to the Hon. Francis Murnaghan, Jr., U.S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit.

She is Literary Director of the Ames Foundation and a member of the American Law Institute, the American Antiquarian Association, and a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation. She is member of the Massachusetts Bar Association and the State Bar of Wisconsin (inactive status).

Professor Bilder has written for broader audiences at the Atlantic, Boston Globe, and online publications, and appears in the Annenberg Foundation’s classroom history videos.

Recent Publications

Her latest book, Female Genius: George Washington and Eliza Harriot at the Dawn of the Constitution will be published in early 2022 (University of Virginia Press).

Madison’s Hand: Revising the Constitutional Convention (2015; Harvard University Press) received the 2016 Bancroft Prize in American History and Diplomacy, and was a finalist for the 2016 George Washington Book Prize; The Transatlantic Constitution: Colonial Legal Culture and the Empire (2004; Harvard University Press), received the Littleton-Griswold Award (American Historical Association).  She has published articles arguing that the Constitution was an emerging genre.

She recently wrote an article about Native Nation representatives in Philadelphia in 1787: “Without Doors: Native Nations and the Convention,” Fordham Law Review (2021).

With Laurel Davis, she has written about the library of Robert Morris, the civil rights and anti-slavery activist: “The Library of Robert Morris, Antebellum Civil Rights Lawyer & Activist.” She is part of a team that created a website about Morris: Robert Morris: Civil Rights Lawyer & Antislavery Activist

She has is a coauthor of Appeals to the Privy Council from the American Colonies, a digital catalogue and print volumes, compiling all appeals to the Privy Council to 1783, including over 750 appeals and over 250 briefs.


Media Coverage
Country Focus
Expertise by Geography
Atlantic, United States
Expertise by Chronology
17th century, 18th century, 19th century
Expertise by Topic
American Revolution, American Founding Era, Colonialism, Gender, Government, Law, Politics, Rebellion & Revolution, Slavery, Women