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Putnam, Bertha Haven (1872–1960 - Medieval History

school peace published college

Bertha Haven Putnam was born in New York City in 1872 to George Haven Putnam, head of the publishing firm of G. P. Putnam’s Sons, and Rebecca (Shepard) Putnam. She attended Miss Audobon’s School and Miss Gibbon’s School, both in New York City. She received a B.A. from Bryn Mawr College in 1893 and taught Latin there until she returned to New York after her mother’s death. After her father remarried in 1899, Putnam taught special classes at the Brearley School while attending graduate school at Columbia University from 1895 to 1897 and from 1900 to 1903. She earned a Ph.D. in 1908 and became an instructor in history at Mount Holyoke College. She advanced to assistant professor in 1912 and full professor in 1924.

In 1908 Putnam’s dissertation, The Enforcement of the Statutes of Labourers During the First Decade After the Black Death, 1349–1359 , was published. Work on her dissertation eventually led her to specialize in medieval English criminology. While completing her research on the restrictive statutes of laborers enacted in 1349 and 1351 in England, Putnam discovered a misclassification in a Record Office entry which led to her first discovery of a record of proceedings before a justice of the peace. She later discovered 100 of these records describing previously unstudied activities of magistrates who dealt with cases ranging from eavesdropping to murder.

In 1924 Putnam wrote After the Black Death, 1349–1359 , and in 1933 she published Kent Keepers of the Peace, 1316–17 . In 1938 she edited Proceedings Before the Justices of the Peace in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries , for which she received the first Haskins Medal, awarded by the Medieval Academy of America in 1940. She had retired from teaching at Mount Holyoke College in 1937, and spent 1938 lecturing at Bryn Mawr College. That same year she was the first woman and nonlawyer to become a research fellow at Harvard Law School. In 1939 she published Yorkshire Sessions of the Peace, 1361–1364 .

In the late 1940s, an attack of shingles left her partially blind, ending her scholarly career. She was awarded His Majesty’s Medal for Service in the Cause of Freedom in 1946 by King George VI for her work as chair of the Mount Holyoke Chapter of the British War Relief Society. Her last book, The Place in Legal History of Sir William Sharehull, Chief Justice of the King’s Bench , was published in England in 1950. Bertha Putnam died of arteriosclerosis in South Hadley, Massachusetts, on February 26, 1960.

Puttenham, George (c. 1529–1590) - BIOGRAPHY, CRITICAL RECEPTION [next] [back] Purvis, Charles Burleigh(1842–1929) - Surgeon, physician, educator, Chronology, Attends College and Joins the Military

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