David S. Tanenhaus

Professor of History
James E. Rogers Professor of History and Law
Expertise: Juvenile Justice, Constitutional and Legal History


David S. Tanenhaus is an internationally recognized authority on the history and practice of juvenile justice. 

He is a professor in the UNLV history department and the James E. Rogers Professor of History and Law at the William S. Boyd School of Law. From 2004 to 2012, Tanenhaus served as editor of Law and History Review. He is now general editor, with Franklin E. Zimring, of NYU Press’s Youth, Crime, and Justice Series

Since coming to UNLV in 1997, he has taught courses on American legal and constitutional history, the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, children and society, and introductory surveys of U.S. History.

He has written extensively about legal and constitutional history. His books include Juvenile Justice in the Making (Oxford University Press, 2004) and The Constitutional Rights of Children: In re Gault and Juvenile Justice (University Press of Kansas, 2011). He co-edited, with Margaret K. Rosenheim, Franklin E. Zimring, and Bernardine Dohrn, A Century of Juvenile Justice (University of Chicago, 2002) and, with Franklin E. Zimring, Choosing the Future for American Juvenile Justice (NYU Press, 2014). He also served as the editor-in-chief of The Encyclopedia of the Supreme Court of the United States (MacMillan Reference USA, 2008). 

A passionate believer in connecting universities to communities, he serves as a Trustee of Nevada Humanities, participates in teacher institutes sponsored by the Center for Civic Education and the American Institute for History Education, and helps coordinate both the Philip Pro Lectureship in Legal History at the Boyd School of Law and the UNLV Constitution Day Public Lectureship.


  • Ph.D., American history, University of Chicago
  • MA, History, University of Chicago
  • BA, Grinnell College

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child development, crime & criminal justice, history, law

David S. Tanenhaus In The News

K.L.A.S. T.V. 8 News Now
With the majority of the young men he believes beat and kicked a Rancho High School student to death already behind bars, Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson has some decisions to make.
Associated Press
Eight Las Vegas high school students between the ages of 13 and 17 years old were arrested on murder charges in the beating death of a schoolmate that was captured on cellphone video and widely share across social media.
The Nevada Independent
In two weeks, students will return to classes at UNLV.
Cronkite News
One June day in 1964, Gerald Gault and a teenage friend made a bad decision. They made an obscene phone call to Ora Cook, Gault’s neighbor. She called the police, and both boys were arrested and taken to a juvenile detention facility in Gila County.

Articles Featuring David S. Tanenhaus

The Las Vegas skyline (Josh Hawkins, UNLV).
Campus News | December 4, 2023

A collection of news stories highlighting UNLV’s dedication to community and research.

U.N.L.V. signage with Fall leaves in the background
Research | November 1, 2005

A new book examines the history behind the creation of a separate court system for juvenile offenders and the discussions surrounding social and emotional development of adolescents.