Sometime ago Kellen Funk and I used computational analysis to study how the Field Code created the category of civil procedure in American law, and how that New York code spread across jurisdictions in the nineteenth-century United States. We published an article about those specific findings, and have given various talks, shared code, published datasets, and the like.
Since that time we have tried to maintain a consistent historical and methodological approach, while expanding our scope in two ways. Our historical aim remains the same: we want to show how the modern structures of American law developed, and to do so, we are using computational methods which can uncover and describe patterns not readily found or explained with more conventional historical methods. We are expanding that research to more comprehensive corpora of legal sources, including the Caselaw Access Project and The Making of Modern Law: Legal Treatises, 1800–1926. And while we intend to keep publishing in conventional historical journals—at least, we hope to—we also want to expand the scope of the project to include more interactive visualizations.
To that end we have created a website for our work, which we are calling Legal Modernism. At the moment the website simply gathers our already published work. But it will soon be the platform for our visualizations and other ongoing work. (There is a feed on the project website if you’d like subscribe for updates.)
While my blogging efforts have been at most sporadic, I hope to share more substantively some of what we are working on in the coming days.