Professor Mary Sarah Bilder teaches in the areas of property, trusts and estates,
and American legal and constitutional history at Boston College Law School. She received
her B.A. with Honors (English) and the Dean’s Prize from the University of Wisconsin at
Madison, her J.D. (magna cum laude) from Harvard Law School, and her A.M. and Ph.D. from
Harvard University in the History of American Civilization. She was a law clerk to the
Hon. Francis Murnaghan, Jr., U.S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit. She writes primarily
in the areas of constitutionalism and the history of the Constitution, early American
legal culture and the legal profession, and the history of the book and legal education.
She was the Lucy G. Moses Visiting Professor at Columbia Law School in 2001 and was a
visiting professor at Harvard Law School in the spring of 2008. Professor Bilder is a
member of the American Law Institute, the Colonial Society of Massachusetts, the
Massachusetts Historical Society, and a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation. She is
member of the State Bar of Wisconsin (inactive status). She was given the Emil Slizewski
Faculty Teaching Award in 2007 and was named Michael and Helen Lee Distinguished Scholar
in 2009. 

She is the author of The Transatlantic Constitution: Colonial Legal Culture and the
Empire (Harvard University Press, 2004), awarded the Littleton-Griswold Award from the
American Historical Association. She recently co-edited Blackstone in America: Selected
Essays of Kathryn Preyer (Cambridge University Press, 2009). Her articles appear in
several important collected volumes of essays and wide variety of journals, including the
Yale Law Journal, the Stanford Law Review, the Yale Journal of Law and the Humanities,
the George Washington Law Review, Law and History Review, Law Library Journal, and the
Journal of Policy History. 

Professor Bilder is the author of a renowned blog entry on how to teach the Rule Against
Perpetuities in one class hour, has been interviewed by the History Channel, and served
as a legal history consultant to Steven Spielberg on Amistad. 



Madison's Hand: Revising the Constitutional Convention (2015)

Now available for pre-order.

James Madison’s Notes on the 1787 Constitutional Convention have acquired nearly...



Appeals to the Privy Council from the American Colonies: An Annotated Digital Catalogue (with Sharon H. O'Connor) (2014)

In recognition of the three-hundred anniversary of the accession of George I, the Ames Foundation...



Blackstone in America: Selected Essays of Kathryn Preyer (with Maeva Marcus and R. Kent Newmyer) (2009)

Reviews: "...a book that should be put before every beginning student of American constitutional and...



The Transatlantic Constitution: Colonial Legal Culture and the Empire (2004)

The Transatlantic Constitution makes a major impact on the way we see the legacy of...


Contributions to Books


Colonial Constitutionalism and Constitutional Law, Transformations in American Legal History: Essays in Honor of Morton J. Horwitz (2009)

This essay reconsiders the transformation of colonial constitutionalism to Constitutional Law. The transformation of constitutional...



The Colonial Period: The Sources of Colonial Law, The Oxford International Encyclopedia of Legal History (2009)



How Bad Were the Official Records of the Federal Convention?, The George Washington Law Review (2012)

The official records of the Constitutional Convention of 1787 have been neglected and dismissed by...



Appeals to the Privy Council Before American Independence: An Annotated Digital Catalogue (with Sharon Hamby O'Connor), Law Library Journal (2012)

Between the later seventeenth century and American independence, appeals from colonial high courts were taken...



Expounding the Law: Law and Judicial Duty, The George Washington Law Review (2010)

Written as a comment on Philip Hamburger's book, Law and Judicial Duty, this essay explains...



James Madison, Law Student and Demi-Lawyer, Law and History Review (2010)

We think of James Madison as a political theorist, legislative drafter, and constitutional interpreter. Recent...



Blackstone in America, Boston College Law School Lectures and Presentations (2010)

Remarks delivered at Rethinking the History of Early American Law: Kathryn Preyer's Blackstone in America,...


Selected Professional Activities

The London Book Trade and the Making of Irish, Scottish, and American Literature: A lunch talk with Joseph Rezek, Boston University (2014)

Respondent to a presentation by Joseph Rezek:

Joseph Rezek, Assistant Professor of English, will discuss...

Panelist, The Future of the American Revolution, Colonial Society of Massachusetts (2014)
Panelist, The History of the Use of History in Constitutional Law, The Role of History in Constitutional Law, Stanford Law School (2014)
Madison’s Hand: Revising the Constitutional Convention, Legal History Workshop (2013)

Professor Bilder gave her presentation, "Madison’s Hand: Revising the Constitutional Convention," as part of the...

Member, Advisory Committee on Massachusetts Judicial Nominations (2013)

In March 2013, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren named Prof. Bilder to the Advisory Committee on...




The Transatlantic Constitution: Colonial Legal Culture and the Empire, Boston College Law School Faculty Papers (2005)

Departing from traditional approaches to colonial legal history, Mary Sarah Bilder argues that American law...