Monday, August 14, 2006
I was shocked and saddened to receive an email from Chris Waldrep on the legal history discussion list about the passing of beloved legal historian Kermit Hall. Dr. Hall was the president of SUNY--Albany. He died in a drowning accident in South Carolina yesterday. He was the co-author of the wildly successful and influential American Legal History: Cases and Materials, as well as The Magic Mirror: Law in American Society. Among many other works is one of my favorite pieces, a gem of an article, The Judiciary on Trial: State Constitutional Reform and the Rise of an Elected Judiciary, 1845-1860, 45 Historian 337 (1983).
Here is his biography from the SUNY--Albany website. As legal historians know, he was kind to young scholars and was always trying to help others improve their scholarship. He tried to help others to improve the scholarly community. I think that's some of the highest praise one can give another scholar. Something of Dr. Hall's modesty and concern for others comes across in the last paragraph of his SUNY-Albany biography: "Hall was born and raised in Akron, Ohio. The son of a tiremaker and a bookkeeper, he is a first-generation college graduate and a Vietnam-era veteran."
UPDATE: Professor Timothy Huebner of Rhodes College, one of Kermit Hall's students, has a moving tribute on H-Law, which you can view here. In addition to talking about his scholarship, Tim also talks about Hall's nurturing of scholars, particularly his Ph.D. students.