Will Holub-Moorman

Graduate Student

Will Holub-Moorman studies the political, legal, and social history of the modern United States. His dissertation project traces how the fiscal and interjurisdictional imperatives of welfare administration in late-twentieth-century America produced new methods of defining and policing parenthood’s legal obligations. As local and state governments increasingly sought to slash welfare expenditures by collecting child support from non-custodial parents, it argues, they responded to persistent challenges of enforcement in ways that blurred the conceptual and institutional boundaries between family, administrative, and criminal law within American federalism. Beginning in the 1970s, such efforts to establish paternities, track down out-of-state “deadbeat dads” and access their financial assets, and discourage non-marital births prompted lawmakers and jurists to reimagine the rights and responsibilities of parents—and also to delineate the prerogatives of different levels of government to enforce those responsibilities. Drawing on archival records from county and state welfare departments, district attorneys’ offices, and family courts, the dissertation reconstructs the local roots and legal consequences of neoliberal welfare reform.

Will is also currently pursuing a J.D. at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School. At Princeton, he has coordinated the Modern America Workshop and a reading group on “Childhood, Law, and the State” in the Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program in the Humanities. Since 2021, he has been a Digital Fellow at the Society for the History of Children and Youth. His writing has appeared in Boston Review.

Will received his B.A. magna cum laude from Harvard in 2016. His senior thesis, which examined the interplay between psychological expertise and popular initiatives to reform American children’s experience of Hollywood cinema during the interwar period, was awarded the Thomas T. Hoopes Prize. Before arriving at Princeton, Will worked as a travel writer and as a high school history teacher.

Year of Study
Third Year
Area of Interest
(In alphabetical order)
Gender & Sexuality
History of Childhood
Intellectual History
Legal History
Political History
Race & Ethnicity
Social History
Home Department & Other Affiliations
19th Century
20th Century
United States