Washington History Seminar
Historical Perspectives on International and National Affairs

"People Out of Place: A Constitutional History of the Long 1960s"

Risa Goluboff

Vagrancy laws made it a crime to be idle and poor, or dissolute, or to wander about without any purpose. They came to these shores with the American colonists, proliferated throughout the nation and were on the books in almost every state as of 1950. But beginning in that decade, African Americans and other civil rights activists, communists, labor union activists, poor people, Beats and hippies, gay men and lesbians, women, Vietnam War protestors and student activists, and young, urban minority men all contested their constitutionality. In 1971 and 1972, the Supreme Court struck them down. Risa Goluboff shows how this changing constitutional status of vagrancy laws was part and parcel of the larger social transformations of the long 1960s.

Risa Goluboff is John Allan Love Professor of Law and Professor of History at the University of Virginia. She holds an A.B. from Harvard University, a J.D. from Yale Law School, and an M.A. and Ph.D. from Princeton University. She is the author of the award-winning The Lost Promise of Civil Rights and numerous shorter works, as well as co-editor of Civil Rights Stories.

Report from the Field: Jim Grossman, American Historical Association

Monday January 13, 2014
4:00 p.m.

Woodrow Wilson Center, 6th Floor Moynihan Boardroom
Ronald Reagan Building, Federal Triangle Metro Stop

January 20: Martin Luther King Day, no meeting

The seminar is sponsored jointly by the National History Center of the American Historical Association and the Wilson Center. It meets weekly during the academic year. See www.nationalhistorycenter.org for the schedule, speakers, topics, and dates as well as webcasts and podcasts. The seminar thanks the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations for its support.


  • Risa Goluboff

    John Allan Love Professor of Law and Professor of History, University of Virginia