Professor BJ Ard Finds Lost Manuscript by Willard Hurst; Continues Discussion on Technology & the Law

Today’s post is from UW Law School Professor and Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Development, Susannah Camic Tahk:

My dad, a sociologist of intellectual history, once glumly told me that people doing US intellectual history never seem to find rare archival gems anymore. Regardless of whether he was correct at the time, his always-skeptical daughter now points out that he spoke too soon.

A couple of years ago, BJ Ard, himself a trailblazer in the burgeoning field of technology law, was following the path of a footnote that referred to Willard Hurst’s work on the subject. BJ’s search led to an office at the University of Michigan, where Bill Novak, who had once been at Wisconsin, had been storing files he’d collected from Hurst during an office clean-out. The files, it turned out, included “Technology and the Law: The Automobile,” an unpublished manuscript of Hurst’s that had been thus far lost to history.

BJ probed the mysteries surrounding the document, finding out that it was “chapter 8” in a planned sequel to The Growth of American Law, and worked with Novak and others to edit and publish the manuscript, with a foreword, in theWisconsin Law ReviewHurst’s original type-written work is also available in our UW Law School Digital Repository.

BJ’s own recent co-authored piece, “Structuring Techlaw,” takes up the relationship between technology and law that concerned Hurst in 1949. Unlike his intellectual progenitor, BJ in fact published his work on the topic, in the Harvard Journal of Technology and the Law.  Check it out!