Michael Grossberg

Professor Emeritus

Department of History

IU; IU Bloomington

Full Biography

I am a historian of United States and I specialize in the history of law. I have a joint appointment in the Department of History and the School of Law. My research focuses on the relationship between law and social change, particularly the intersection of law and the family. I am currently working on a study of child protection in the United States that will assess issues such as child labor, juvenile justice, school reform, disabilities, and child abuse from the 1870s to the present. I recently co-edited Re-Inventing Childhood in the Post World War II World (2011). I have also been involved in several family policy research projects such as an initiative to create guidelines for genetic testing in child custody cases and friend of the court briefs in same-sex marriage cases. I teach courses in American legal and social history. I also edited the American Historical Review from 1995 to 2005.

Honors and Awards

  • Littleton-Griswold Prize in History of Law and American Society, American Historical Association (1986: for Governing the Hearth)
  • Fellow, National Humanities Center, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina (1987-1988)
  • Indiana University Teaching Excellence Recognition Award (1998-1999)
  • Fellow, The Hastings Center on Bioethics (2003)
  • American Bar Association Fellowship
  • American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship
  • Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship
  • National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship
  • Newberry Library Fellowship
  • Visiting Scholar, Dept. of Child Studies, University of Linköping, Sweden, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014
  • President, American Society for Legal History, 2013-15
  • Doctor of Philosophy (honoris causa), awarded by the University of Linköping, Sweden, May, 2014

Research Interests

  • American legal history
  • History of children and the family
  • History of American social policy


  • B.A. at University of California, Santa Barbara, 1972
  • Ph.D. at Brandeis University, 1979

Courses Taught

  • Children and the Law in Modern America
  • Law in America
  • History of Children and Childhood
  • Great American Trials



  • Governing the Hearth: Law and the Family in Nineteenth-Century America. Studies in Legal History. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, l985. [Paperback edition, 1988; Second paperback edition, 1993; Electronic Edition, 2002]
  • A Judgment for Solomon: The d’Hauteville Case and Legal Experience in Antebellum America. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1996.
  • [Co-edited with Wendy Gamber and Hendrik Hartog] American Public Life and the Historical Imagination. Notre Dame, IN: The University of Notre Dame Press, 2003.
  • [Co-edited with Christopher Tomlins] The Cambridge History of Law in America (Cambridge University Press, 2008); Vol. I: Early America (1580-1815); Vol. II: The Long Nineteenth Century (1789-1920); and Vol. III; The Twentieth Century and After (1920-).
  • [Co-edited with Paula Fass] Re-Inventing Childhood in the Post World War II World (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011).


  • “A Protected Childhood: The Emergence of Child Protection in America.” American Public Life and the Historical Imagination, pp. 213-39.
  • "Liberation and Caretaking: Fighting Over Children's Rights in Postwar America," Re-Inventing Childhood in the Post World War II World, 19-37, 141-44.