Sarah Barringer Gordon

American religious history, law and religion, and legal history
Arlin M. Adams Professor of Constitutional Law and Professor of History
Law School G106
Office Hours: 
M 10-12
Teaching Schedule: 
M 2-5; T 4:30-6:30
215 898.3069


Sarah (Sally) Barringer Gordon, Arlin M. Adams Professor of Constitutional Law and Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania, teaches in the areas of church and state, property, and legal history in the law school, and American religious and constitutional history in the history department.  Sally is the author The Mormon Question: Polygamy and Constitutional Conflict in Nineteenth-Century America (University of North Carolina Press, 2002), and The Spirit of the Law Religious Voices and the Constitution in Modern America (Harvard University Press, 2010).   She is also the author of “The First Disestablishment: Limits on Church Power and Property before the Civil War,” University of Pennsylvania Law Review (2014).  This article is part of a larger project on the law of religion from the Revolution to the post Civil War era, titled Freedom’s Holy Light:  Disestablishment in America, 1776-1876, which is currently under consideration at a scholarly press.  

Sally is particularly interested in the legal history of religion and religious peoples in American colonial and national history, with a special focus on the relationship of politics and law to belief and practice in American life.

Sally is a regular commentator in print, radio and television on law and religion. She serves on the boards of Vassar College, the William Nelson Cromwell Foundation, and is the incoming co-editor of the American Society for Legal History's book series Studies in Legal History. She also is actively involved in the Mormon History Association, the American Historical Association, the Western History Association, the American Academy of Religion, the American Society for Church History, the McNeil Center for Early American Studies, and the Organization of American Historians. She has recently been appointed as an OAH Distinguished Lecturer starting in 2012.

Professor Gordon directs the Penn Legal History Consortium and founded the Penn combined J.D. / Ph.D. Program in American Legal History.

CV (file): 
Courses Taught: 
  • HIST 325 Religion in American History, 1877 - 2008