Gwen Hoerr Jordan, J.D. Ph.D.

gwenjordanGwen Hoerr Jordan, J.D., M.A., Ph.D.
Associate Professor and Chair, Legal Studies Department

Telephone: (217) 206-8520

Office: PAC 334

Professor Jordan joined the UIS faculty in 2010 after two years as a visiting assistant professor at Northern Illinois University and three years as the Legal History Fellow at the Institute for Legal Studies, University of Wisconsin Law School. She was promoted to Associate Professor and elected Chair of the Legal Studies Department in 2015. She also has a part-time staff attorney appointment with the Illinois Innocence Project (IIP) at UIS. Her position with the Illinois Innocence Project involves representing individuals who were wrongfully convicted, working with UIS undergraduate and graduate students participating in the Project, and working with law school students externs involved with the Project. Dr. Jordan is also spearheading a policy initiative for the IIP.

In August 2014, Jordan successfully argued a petition for post-conviction DNA testing in the case of The People of the State of Illinois v. Barton McNeil. Mr. McNeil is serving a 100 year sentence for a 1999 murder conviction.

Jordan’s scholarship focuses on the history of women lawyers and their local, national and international social justice activism; issues of gender race and the law, and critical race theory. Her current work is on the history of black women lawyers in Illinois. She is currently analyzing issues of race identity, black women lawyer’s civil rights activism throughout the twentieth century, and the strategies women lawyers of color developed to overcome the intersection of race and gender discrimination in the legal system.

Dr. Jordan earned her M.A. in Criminal Justice and her Ph.D. in History from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She earned her J.D. from the University of Denver College of Law. She was awarded the UIC Dean’s Scholar Award and received an American Association of University Women Educational Foundation American Dissertation Fellowship. She also won a National Award Certificate of Commendation as curator of the exhibition Bar None: 125 Years of Women Lawyers in Illinois, and was previously Co-Chair of the Chicago Bar Association Alliance for Women and served on its advisory board. In addition to her academic experience, she spent five years as a Deputy District Attorney in Colorado.

Dr. Jordan teaches courses in multiple forums, on-ground in the traditional classroom setting, online for the Legal Studies Master’s program, and in the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) format.

  • In January 2013, Dr. Jordan and Dr. Matthew Holden served as instructors of a UIS MOOC: “The Emancipation Proclamation: What Came Before, How It Worked, And What Followed.” This MOOC is free, open to all, and is available on Coursesites.
  • In February 2015, she launched a MOOC entitled “The Innocence Movement” about the international effort to exonerate men and women who have been convicted and incarcerated for crimes they did not commit. This MOOC is also free, open to all, and is available on Coursesites.

Curriculum Vitae (PDF)

Teaching Philosophy

Courses Taught: History of American Law, Conviction of the Innocent, Policy Reform and Wrongful Convictions, Law and Society, Women in American Law, Seminar in Politics and Law, Law and Inequality, The American Constitution and Civil Liberties,  Introduction to Graduate Legal Studies,  Graduate Seminar in Legal Studies.

Recent Publications:

“How the Feminine Mystique Played in Peoria: Who is Betty Friedan?” History of Women in the Americas 3 (2015).

“Radical Women and the Development of Legal Aid Societies in Chicago and Los Angeles, 1886-1914,” The Journal of Gender, Race and Justice, 18, no.1 (Winter 2015) 65.

“How 30 Women Changed the Course of the Nation’s Legal and Social History: Commemorating the First National Meeting of Women Lawyers in America,” The Circuit Rider (November, 2013) 23-27. (PDF)

“Engendering the History of Race and International Relations: The Career of Edith Sampson, 1927-1978,” Chicago-Kent Law Review 87, no. 2 (2012) 521.

“‘Them Law Wimmin’: Grassroots Lawyering and the Protective Agency for Women and Children,” in Feminist Legal History: Recovering the Past, Reclaiming the Future, Tracy Thomas and TJ Boisseau, eds., (New York University Press, 2011).

“Agents of Incremental Change: From Myra Bradwell to Hillary Clinton” Nevada Law Journal 9, no. 3 (Spring 2009): 580- 645.

“‘Horror of a Woman’: Myra Bradwell, the Fourteenth Amendment, and the Gendered Origins of Sociological Jurisprudence” Akron Law Review 42, no. 4 (2009): 1201-1244. (PDF)

Recent and Upcoming Presentations:

“‘A Woman of Strange, Unfathomable Presence’: Ida Platt’s Lived Experience of Race, Gender, and Law, 1863-1939,” European Society for Comparative Legal History Conference, Gdansk, Poland, forthcoming June 28-July 1, 2016.

“Women of Color May Study Law, But They Cannot Practice Here,” International Ethics Conference, New York, New York, forthcoming July 14 to 16, 2016.

“Engendering International Civil Rights Advocacy During the Cold War: The Transnational Activism of Women of Color for Rights and Dignity, 1949-1958,” Law and Society Association Annual Meeting, New Orleans, Louisiana, forthcoming June 2-5, 2016.

“‘Building Our World’: Edith Sampson and The Power of Transnational Coalitions of Women of Colour During the Cold War,” International Federation for Research in Women’s History Conference, Jinan, China, August 27-29, 2015.

“Building Transnational Coalitions of Women of Color During the Cold War: The Work of Edith Sampson and the National Council of Negro Women,” American Society for Legal History, Denver, Colorado, November 6-8, 2014.

“After Mature Deliberation”: Women Lawyers’ Infiltration of the 1893 World Columbian Exposition,” Women in International and Universal Exhibitions (1878-1937) as Actors and Objects of Knowledge, Universite Paris, Descartes, France, October 23-24, 2014

“African-American Portias and the Fight for Human Rights,” Newberry Library Seminar on Women and Gender, Chicago, Illinois, March 14, 2014

“Race Gender and the Legal Profession: The Life and Career of Ida Platt, Illinois’ First African-American Women Lawyer,” American Bar Foundation Legal History Seminar, Chicago, Illinois, March 10, 2014.

“Radical Women and the Development of Legal Aid Societies in Chicago and Los Angeles, 1886-1914,” Social Science History Association Conference, Chicago, Illinois November 21, 2013

“‘Trying to bale the ocean with a sieve’: What Women’s Rights Legislation in the 1940s Might Teach Us in the 21st Century,” forthcoming “The ERA in the 21st Century” conference, Roger Williams University, Rhode Island, November 15-16, 2013.

“‘30 Female Blackstones Gather in Chicago’ 120th Anniversary” Event sponsored by the Illinois State Bar Association and the 7th Circuit Bar Association, Winston & Strawn LLP, Chicago, August 22, 2013; Reprise: for The Chicago Inn of Court, November 21, 2013

“Law, Social Change, and Diversity with the Nineteenth-Century Woman Movement: The Story of Charlotte Holt, Esquire,” Law and Society Association Conference, Boston, Massachusetts, May 30, 2013

“Transnational Coalitions of Women of Color during the Cold War,” Freedom, Rights, and Power: Recasting Women’s struggles across the Americas since 1900 Conference, St Mary’s University College, Twickenham, London, United Kingdom, April 26-27, 2013