Andrea McDowell

Professor Andrea McDowell

Professor of Law

Professor Andrea McDowell is a graduate of Yale College and Yale Law School and holds a Ph.D. in Ancient History from the University of Pennsylvania. She is an expert on the legal and social history of Ancient Egypt; her many publications in that area include a book on Ancient Egyptian legal procedure as well as a more general work on Village Life in Ancient Egypt. Professor McDowell has taught Egyptology at Leiden, Oxford, and Johns Hopkins universities.

In recent years, Professor McDowell has turned to American legal history. She is writing a book about Americans and self-government in the California gold rush, to be titled “We the Miners.” Americans of the 19th century were not only skilled in self-organization but also enthusiastic about making their own rules. In the gold rush, the miners' meetings were the only government. Using parliamentary procedure, now known as Robert’s Rules of Order, the American miners adopted law codes, decided property disputes, and held criminal trials, even after the State of California established the official court system. McDowell is particularly interested in the dynamics of crowd and individual, including the openings for sober minded men, using parliamentary procedure, to take back the initiative from the loudest and angriest members of the crowd. She is equally interested in the failure of the same sober men to intervene when a subset of the population slaughtered Native Americans and expelled foreigners from the mines, even though at least some Americans strongly disapproved of what was happening.

Professor McDowell’s articles have appeared in the Michigan Law Review and the Yale Journal of Law & the Humanities, among others. In 2016, she received a Guggenheim Fellowship for work on her gold rush book, which will be published by the Harvard University Press.

Professor McDowell clerked for Judge Morris S. Arnold on the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals. Before coming to Seton Hall, she was a visiting assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School and held research fellowships at the University of Wisconsin and Yale Law Schools. Her primary teaching interests are Trusts & Estates, Elder Law, Torts and American Legal History.



Criminal Law Beyond the State: Popular Trials on the Frontier, 2007 Byu L. Rev. 327 (2007)

Legal Fictions in Pierson v. Post, 105 Michigan Law Rev. 735 (2007)

From Commons to Claims: Property Rights in the California Gold Rush, 14 Yale Journal of Law & the Humanities 1 (2002)


We the Miners: Self-Government in the California Gold Rush, Harvard University Press (forthcoming)


How Meetings Won the West, in The Routledge Research Companion to Law and Humanities in Nineteenth-Century America, pp. 257–273, in Nan Goodman and Simon Stern eds. (2017)

Gold Rushes Are All the Same: Labor Rules the Diggings, in Property in Land and Other Resources, pp. 99-118, Daniel H. Cole and Elinor Ostrom, eds., Lincoln Institute of Land Policy (2012)

Chapter 5, "Law", in Village Life in Ancient Egypt, in Oxford, 1999 (1999)

Awareness of the Past in Deir el-Medina, in Village Voices. Cnws Publications No. 13, in R. J. Demarée and A. Egberts, eds., Leiden, 95-109 (1992)


Real Property, Spontaneous Order, and Norms in the Gold Mines, 29 Law & Social Inquiry 771 (2004)

An Incised Heiratic Ostracon (Ashmolean HO 655), 81 JEA 221-225 (1995)


Review of Golden Rules: The Origins of California Water Law in the Gold Rush, 47 Journal of Interdisciplinary History, pp. 242-244 (2016) (by Mark Kanazawa)

Daily Life in Ancient Egypt, Scientific American (December, 1996), 68-73 (2005) (Reprinted in Scientific American Special Edition: Mysteries of the Ancient Ones)

Crime and Punishment in Ancient Egypt, Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt, New York (2000)

Teachers and Students in Deir el-Medina, in Deir El-Medina in the Millennium, R.J. Demaree and A. Egberts, eds. 217 (2000)

Legal Aspects of Care for the Elderly in Egypt to the End of the New Kingdom, in Marten Stol and Sven P. Vleeming, eds., The Care of the Elderly in the Ancient Near East, Studies in the History and Culture of the Ancient Near East 14, Leiden (1998)

Student Exercises from Deir el-Medina: the Dates, in Peter Der Manuelian, ed., Studies in Honor of William Kelly Simpson, vol. 2, Boston, 601-608 (1996)

Ostraca: Ancient Egyptian Ephemera, Egyptian Archaeology 7, 31-2 (1995)

Contact with the Outside World, in Leonard H. Lesko, ed., Pharaoh's Workers (Ithaca and London), 41-59 (1994)

Agricultural Activity by the Workmen of Deir el-Medina, Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 78, 195-206 (1992)

Jurisdiction in the Workmen's Community of Deir el-Medina, Egyptologische Uitgaven 5 (Leiden, 1990)

Een schijnproces in het Egyptische strafrecht?, Phoenix 33, 2, A Show Trial in Egyptian Criminal Law?, 17-22 (1987)


Capital and Corporal Punishment in the California Gold Mines to appear in Capital Punishment (Gordon Bakken ed.)