Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Fall 2009


Published in Great Plains Research 19.2 (Fall 2009): 252


Copyright 2009 Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Used by permission.


More an anthology than a systematic history, The History of Nebraska Law represents a significant contribution to the legal history of the state. Editor, author, and judge Alan G. Gless compiles a series of legal history vignettes that do well to illustrate the unique development of Nebraska law. Each chapter, written by a different author, focuses on a single event, person, or institution that influenced the development of the law and the legal profession in Nebraska.

The subjects are as varied as they are fascinating. The book begins with a lively account of the contentious process involved in ratifying a constitution for the new territory leading up to statehood in 1867. The delegates and the people of Nebraska grappled with important issues such as slavery, women’s suffrage, compulsory education, railroad regulation, and taxation. Offering a window into the lives of early Nebraskans, the biography of Judge Frank Hamer is a romantic tale of a young lawyer trying to make a living in a new frontier state. The trials he presided over invoke all of the Wild West imagery that has come to represent 19th-century Nebraska.