Digital Legal Research Lab

a photograph of a group of student researchers and their advisors

The Digital Legal Research Lab is an interdisciplinary hub for the study of freedom making in the United States over the long nineteenth century. Our team explores legal mobilization among marginalized actors who leveraged the law to challenge enslavement, deportation, coercive confinement, coverture, and institutionalization. 

Building an interactive and relational database of petitions for freedom, our lab is committed to training undergraduate students in critical legal inquiry, archival research methods, data collection and processing, and in transcription and encoding techniques that allow us to demonstrate patterns and strategies in legal mobilization and legal decision making. Vital to legal scholars and practitioners interested in concepts of justice, liberty, and due process, the database features thousands of freedom stories that are central to the American legal tradition.  


This webinar features the outstanding student research in the 2023 Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program funded by the National Science Foundation. Each student researched previously unpublished habeas corpus petitions and reflected on the significance of these cases of marginalized people who engaged with U.S. law.


Join Us!

Participation in the lab is limited to students who are a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident and are a current undergraduate with at least one semester of coursework remaining before obtaining a bachelor's degree.

Apply Here