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Anna Lvovsky, Law, Harvard Law School

  • When: March 3, 2021, 12–1:30 pm
  • Where: Zoom: To register, contact Sophie Kofman at

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Vice Patrol: Complicating the History of Anti-Gay Policing through the ABF Archives

The policing of gay men at midcentury has often been portrayed as a monolithic project of repression, uniting policemen, prosecutors, and judges in a shared commitment to the regulation of queer social and sexual life. Drawing on the forthcoming book Vice Patrol: Cops, Courts, and the Struggle over Urban Gay Life before Stonewall, this talk examines the complex and often-surprising controversies inspired by that project, which sometimes pitted vice officers against judges as much as against the communities they policed. Focusing especially on research drawn from the archives of the ABF's Study on the Administration of Criminal Justice, it also explores how the Study's findings illuminate the history of gay life and the methodological and ethical questions raised by restrictions on those archives.

Photo and bio courtesy of Harvard Law School

Anna Lvovsky is an Assistant Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, where she teaches American legal history, the history of policing, criminal law, and evidence. Professor Lvovsky’s scholarship focuses on the legal and cultural dimensions of policing, judicial uses of professional knowledge, and the regulation of gender, sexuality, and morality. Her recent work examines judicial deference to police expertise and the role of moral judgment in the Supreme Court’s Fourth Amendment jurisprudence.

Professor Lvovsky's book, Vice Patrol: Cops, Courts, and the Struggle over Urban Gay Life before Stonewall, forthcoming with the University of Chicago Press, examines the daily realities and legal contests surrounding the policing of gay communities in the mid-twentieth century. As a dissertation, the project received the 2016 Julien Mezey Dissertation Award from the Association for the Study of Law, Culture, and the Humanities.

Prior to joining HLS, Professor Lvovsky was an Academic Fellow at Columbia Law School. She clerked for Judge Michael Boudin of the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and for Judge Gerard E. Lynch of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Professor Lvovsky graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, where she was articles co-chair of the Harvard Law Review and the recipient of the LGBTQ Writing Prize, and received her Ph.D. in the History of American Civilization from Harvard University. She earned a B.A. summa cum laude from Yale College.

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