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Journal for Digital Legal History: General Call for Contributions

The Journal for Digital Legal History (DLH), a diamond Open Access and peer-reviewed international journal hosted by the Open UGent platform, is inviting contributions from researchers working on legal history with digital, empirical and computational approaches for its first annual issue, to be published in November 2022. The journal welcomes all research questions and outputs at the intersection of legal history, digital humanities and empirical legal studies, broadly defined.

In the field of legal history, digital methods are hardly ever the centrepiece of a publication itself, if not downplayed. In 1997, Richard Evans claimed that: ‘How we know about the past, what historical causation is, how we define a historical fact, whether there is such a thing as historical truth or objectivity – these are questions that most historians have happily left to one side as unnecessary distractions from their essential work in the archives’ (R. Evans, In Defence of History, 1997, p. 9). Nevertheless, in the 21st century, the work of a historian or legal scholar does not stop in the archives. Often, digital or computational techniques are applied in seemingly pedestrian ways such as “searching” full texts, or they are applied in more elaborate methods to transform the historical facts embedded in our precious archival material or legal documents, to answer novel research questions or to explore well-trodden paths from an innovative perspective.

The application of digital techniques to legal history research is often overlooked or omitted from discussions on methodology. Researchers are encouraged to highlight the technical tools or methods that proved effective to your projects, without neglecting all the trials and errors that helped structure your final choice of any particular technique. You are welcome to illustrate your work with all forms of outputs, from notebooks to graphs, networks, maps, diagrams, etc.. If you have developed software, a database or a dataset that others could reuse, feel welcome to publish it here.

General Call for Contributions: continuous call for submissions

Submissions that address legal sources from any historical period and any part of the world are welcome. Collaborative and multi-authored pieces by authors from different countries working across disciplines are actively encouraged.

Publications in English are accepted; those in German, French, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese are also supported, but please contact the editorial board in advance. If you wish to publish in another language than mentioned here, please contact the editorial board.

Topic suggestions

  • Original research articles (up to 10,000 words).
  • Reproduction-pieces: Can the results of classic studies be replicated through DLH-techniques?
  • A dedicated section for your Digital Legal History events: If you are organizing a panel, conference or webinar series that prominently features Digital Humanities performed on legal sources, contact us for a dedicated focus section allowing you to publish the papers or conclusions of your meeting.
  • Shorter focus pieces or provocations (around 5,000 words with fewer footnotes).
    • Conference and seminar reports.
    • Spotlight articles: inspiration from other social sciences fields on the promising benefits of specific Digital Humanities techniques that could be successfully applied to Digital Legal History.
  • Presentations or Reviews of softwares, databases, datasets, websites, and platforms.
    • Tutorials: general presentation, application through a specific study angle (legal linguistics, marginalia analysis).
  • Trials & errors: reflections on the productive role of wandering and errors in abandoned, rejected or substantially modified past projects that could help improve the current methodology (inspired by the Journal of Trial & Error).


Submissions in traditional and non-traditional formats will be considered: from traditional articles to blog posts, from plain text to linked data or hyperlinked texts, from posters to Notebooks, etc.. Illustrations could be included in the form of notebooks, graphs, diagrams, maps, networks, and images.


Contributions should be published within 2-4 months, depending on a positive peer-review. Please send a short abstract of 150 words, including a provisional title, suggested format and up to five keywords. You can find the detailed guidelines for authors on the journal’s website. Please include a short biographical statement for the proposed contributor(s), including the area of expertise, interests, affiliation (if applicable), and any other relevant information. Abstract submissions will receive a response within 14 days (in July and August, this may take a bit longer).

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