Dylan C. Penningroth
  • Affiliated Research Professor
Joint Appointment
Professor of Law and Alexander F. and May T. Morrison Professor of History, University of California, Berkeley
Associate Dean, Program in Jurisprudence and Social Policy/Legal Studies, University of California, Berkeley
M.A. and Ph.D. in History, Johns Hopkins University
B.A. in History, Yale University

Dylan C. Penningroth

  • Affiliated Research Professor
ABF Researcher

Dylan C. Penningroth is an Affiliated Research Professor at the American Bar Foundation. He is Professor of Law and the Alexander F. and May T. Morrison Professor of History at the University of California, Berkeley, where he is also Associate Dean of Legal Studies.

Penningroth specializes in African American history and U.S. sociolegal history. His first book, The Claims of Kinfolk: African American Property and Community in the Nineteenth-Century South (University of North Carolina Press, 2003), won the Avery Craven Prize from the Organization of American Historians. His articles have appeared in the University of Pennsylvania Law Review, the Journal of American History, the American Historical Review, and the Journal of Family History. Penningroth has held fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Science Foundation, and the Stanford Humanities Center and has been recognized by the Organization of American Historians’ Huggins-Quarles committee, a Weinberg College Teaching Award (Northwestern University), a McCormick Professorship of Teaching Excellence (Northwestern), and a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship.

Before joining the University of California, Berkeley, Penningroth was on the faculty of the History Department at the University of Virginia, at Northwestern University, and as a Research Professor at the American Bar Foundation from 2007 to 2015.

Penningroth is currently finishing a book entitled Before the Movement: The Hidden History of Civil Rights. Combining legal and social history, the study explores the practical meaning of legal rights for Black life from the 1830s to the 1970s and will be published by Liveright in fall 2023.

Research Focus

African American history; migration; comparative histories of slavery and emancipation; the rise of the independent Black church; the interaction between legal categories and popular conceptions such as respectability, race, and “slavish origins;” and the cultural, social, and legal legacy of slavery in colonial Ghana and the United States