New York Times

Investigation to Take Several Years Will Trace Evolution of Modern Home.
History of Laws Underlying Divorce and Birth Control Problems to Be Studied
Foundation Grant to Finance Inquiry -- Professors from Other Colleges to Help

An extensive survey of the social and legal branches of family law, including marriage and divorce, birth-control legislation and the financial relationship between husband and wife, is being conducted at Columbia University, it was announced yesterday by Dean Young. B. Smith of the law school, who is in charge of the work. The investigation will be carried on for several years, it was said, and will trace the development of the complex society of today with the hope of correcting popular ignorance of family law. A research staff and an advisory committee composed of law professors in many leading colleges has been formed to cooperate with Columbia Law School. The study has been made possible by a grant from one of the large foundations, Dean Smith said.

Preliminary work has already been started, under the direction of Professor Albert C. Jacobs of the law school, Dean Smith reported. An extensive bibliography has been compiled for use on the survey. Professor Robert C. Angell of the Sociology Department at the University of Michigan, who assistance has been secured for the year, is collaborating with the Columbia officials.

Recent Cases to be Studied

The investigation is to be brought up to date through the addition of newspaper clippings showing the latest development in the administration of family law. The survey will include the Mary Ware Dennett case, recent birth-control hearings and divorce cases.

    According to Dean Smith, the survey is the result of a request by Justice Harlan Fiske Stone several years ago, when he was dean of the Law School, for a "more human and social interpretation of the entire field of  law."

    The research committee has divided its work into seven general classes. These are: Single individuals with reference to possible future marriage, unorganized families, marriage, the husband and wife in the organized family, the child in the organized family, the organized family as a whole, and overt disorganization of the family.

    The preliminary investigation has included a review of the legal and sociological side of sex relations, white slavery laws and the Mann act,

    A study is now being made of the validity of marriage. In the general survey especial attention will be given to business and property relations between husband and wife and to the rights of children, including property inheritance.

Dean Smith Outlines Plan.

    In outlining the objectives of the investigation Professor Jacobs said:

    "The committee is seeking to uncover the hidden areas of the law which are affecting the family of today and yet pass almost unnoticed in ordinary life.

    "The next step is to re-classify these data and also the material now generally understood to be family law in a way more significant for a study of the rules of law as social forces actually shaping human relations and conduct. An attempt is being made by the research staff to judge all rules of law, both statutory and nonstatutory, which affect the family and which are affected by the family in terms of the social effects upon the human relations which they regulate or promote.

    "In order to judge rules of law by their effects, it is necessary first to discover which human relation is actually being affected by the operation of a given rule of law, and second to marshal the contemporary data of the other social sciences concerning that human relation, and to supplement and consciously weigh such data in passing upon the rule of law in question.

    "The second object of the study is to disclose to students of law the major bodies of pertinent social science material relating to the family, and to consider methods of using this material on judging rules of law.

Sociologists to Aid Work.

    "With this end in view, trained sociologists have been added to the staff. A detailed study is being made of the relations between husband and wife, with reference to the wife's services and earning within and without the home in New York State. By this study it is hoped to prove to lawyers and the people in general that there is value in studying law in relation to its social setting and noting its evolution in response to direct social needs."

    The family laws of foreign countries are also being studies by the research committee. This year the

(3) school has investigated the family relations in Scandinavia, which is looked upon by legal authorities as the country having the most modern code of family law. Russian law is also being studied, and plans are underway to trace the contemporary French situation. Natives of these countries are cooperating with the school in gathering data and compiling bibliographies.

    Among the members of the advisory committee which has been set up for the study are Dr. W. I. Thomas of New York, Professor Charles H. Cooley of the University of Michigan, Professor Ernest R. Howrer (sic --Mowrer) of Northwestern University, Professor William F. Ogburn, Sophonisba Brockinridge (sic - Breckinridge) and Ernest W. Burgess of the University of Chicago, Professor Ernest R. Groves of the University of North Carolina, and Professor Willystine Goodsell of Columbia University.


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