Petticoats and Prejudice: Women and Law in Nineteenth-Century Canada

by Constance Backhouse, Professor of Law, University of Ottawa. Published with Womens Press, 1991.

This is the first comprehensive work in the field of Canadian women’s legal history. Author Constance Backhouse, an internationally-recognized authority on Canadian women’s legal history, has compiled here the most important of her decade’s worth of research. This highly-readable book highlights the status of women through in-depth case profiles of individual women who were swept up into the 19th century legal process as litigants, accused criminals and witnesses. The cases span the country, providing information about all the common law provinces as well as Quebec. Awarded the Willard Hurst Prize in American Legal History, 1992.


Winner - J. Willard Hurst Prize 1992
Winner - Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Human Rights in the United States Outstanding Book Award

Reviews of Petticoats and Prejudice: Women and Law in Nineteenth-Century Canada

A fascinating and unusual book, one that adds significantly to the collection of path-breaking articles on Canadian women's legal history she has already published.  Elizabeth Clarke, Law and History Review, vol 11, 1993, p. 209.
L’autre a ainsi atteint son objectif de rendre ses recherches accessibles au public non initié... La facilité de la lecture ne doit pas porter ombrage à la somme de travail qu’ont exigée ces recherches.  Louise Langevin, Cahiers de droit, vol 34, 1993, p. 309.
This is legal history that is open and accessible - legal history at its best .... An insightful and coherent study...essential reading. In this first comprehensive study of women's legal history, University of Western Ontario historian Constance Backhouse deftly romps through the seedy underside of life to provide a penetrating portrait of the law's effect on women.  Terry Crowley, Ontario History, vol 84, 1992, p. 69.

Reviews have also appeared in the following publications:

  • Norma Basch, Journal of Women’s History, Vol 5, 1993, p. 129.
  • Bettina Bradbury, Journal of Canadian Studies, Vol 28, 1993, p. 159.
  • Alison Diduck, Canadian Journal of Law & Society, Vol 8, 1993, p. 181.
  • Joan Sangster, Journal of Canadian Studies, Vol 28, 1993, p. 199.
  • Anonymous, Law & Social Inquiry, Vol 17, 1992, p. 575.
  • Annalise Acorn, Alberta Law Review, Vol 30, 1992, p. 1031.
  • Lesley Jacobs, Canadian Journal of Political Science, Vol 25, 1992, p. 397.
  • Mary Kinnear, Canadian Journal of Women and the Law, Vol 5, 1992, p. 212.
  • Greg Marquis, Acadiensis, Vol 21, 1992, p. 171.
  • Melody R. Martin, University of Toronto Faculty of Law Review, Vol 50, 1992, p. 301.
  • Margaret E. McCallum, Queen’s Law Journal, Vol 17, 1992, p. 521.
  • Joy Parr, Canadian Forum, Vol 71, 1992, p. 36.
  • Kathryn S. Sainty, Canadian Journal of Family Law, Vol 10, 1992, p. 309.
  • Constance Anthony, Books in Canada, 20, 1991, p. 39.
  • Catherine J. Bruce, The Advocate (Vancouver Bar Association), Vol 4, 1991, p. 954.
  • Louise Gagnon, The Gazette (Montreal), 7 September 1991, p. J2.
  • Sheila Munro, The Vancouver Sun, 5 October 1991, p. D19.
  • Susan Sterett, Women’s Review of Books, Vol 9, 1991, p. 28.