Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2007


childhood, children as witnesses


This essay offers a selective overview of recent trends in the historical scholarship on American childhood from the origins of the American Revolution to the early years of the Cold War. This overview of the literature has two purposes. First, it highlights recent sociocultural scholarship that presents substantive challenges to the conventional ways of understanding the history of children and the law. Second, in so doing, it points out that legal histories concerned solely with doctrinal matters can, and often do, present a limited and distorted window into the past. Instead, the essay argues that the place of children, historically, has been far more complex and contingent than many, both inside and outside the courtroom, have assumed.


Originally published as:

“Toward a Legal History of Children as Witnesses,” with David S. Tanenhaus, Indiana Law Journal 82:4 (2007): 1059-1075. Available at :