Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Conference: “Varieties of Big Business” at HBS

The Business History Initiative at Harvard Business School is sponsoring a conference on "Varieties of Big Business: Business Groups in the West," to be held at HBS on October 28, 2016. Organized by David Collis, Asli Colpan, and Geoffrey Jones,
This conference will bring together scholars interested in business strategy and organization, governance, and economic development. The discussions will explore the long-term evolution and developmental role of different varieties of large enterprises in the developed economies of North America and Western Europe, focusing on understudied business groups. This conference will also examine nation-specific large-enterprise economies and the diversified business groups within them, and the resilience, stagnation or disappearance of the business group organization in international perspectives.
The program has not yet been posted, but registration is open. Questions may be addressed to Holly Salter at

Monday, August 22, 2016

CFP: Sound Economic History Workshop

The 11th Sound Economic History Workshop will be hosted by the Department of Political and Economic Studies, University of Helsinki in Helsinki, Finland, on November 3-4, 2016. The keynote speakers will be Jaime Reis (ICS) and Susanna Fellman (Gothenburg). According to the call for papers:
The main aim of the Sound Workshop is to gather young researchers in a friendly and non-imposing environment where they can present their research and receive constructive criticism from their peers and leading economic historians. Another aim of the workshop is to demonstrate the breadth of (especially Nordic) Economic History as an academic discipline, so there is no theme to the workshop, and submissions are encouraged from any sub-­field of economic and social history. Nordic scholars and scholars based in a Nordic country will be given preference, but others warmly welcome to apply. The workshop organizers particularly encourage presentations by PhD students and post-docs.
Prospective speakers should submit a one-page abstract and a short CV to local organizers Laura Ekholm ( and Sakari Saaritsa (, no later than September 5, 2016.
    For more information about the Sound Workshops, please see the group's website.

Friday, August 19, 2016

CFP: “Hidden Capitalism” at Hagley

The Center for the History of Business, Technology, and Society has announced a conference, "Hidden Capitalism: Beyond, Below, and Outside the Visible Market," to be held at the Hagley Library and Museum in Wilmington, Delaware, on October 27, 2017. The conference was initiated by Lisa Jacobson (UC Santa Barbara) and Ken Lipartito (Florida International University), who are joined on the program committee by Roger Horowitz (Hagley Museum and Library) and Wendy Woloson (Rutgers University). The call for papers states:
In reviving the study of capitalism, scholars have emphasized the transformative power of markets and commodification. Yet, a crucial part of what drives capitalism falls outside of waged relations and formal, visible exchange. . . . we invite proposals that explore the substantial economic activity that occurs on the margins and in the concealed corners of the formal economy. These activities may be hidden or take place in “markets” that are not defined or measured by the normal terms we use to define and measure markets. Uncovering these forgotten or obscured activities can focus new attention on the mutual dependency of the visible and invisible markets and how the moralities of such markets both converge and diverge. 
The program committee is interested in original, unpublished empirical essays addressing the long twentieth century (1890 to the present) and that consider one or more of the following questions:
  • How does the expansive twentieth-century regulatory state impact the relationship between public and hidden or extra-market economic activity? 
  • As more and more of life is exposed to the surveillance of the market and state regulation, does capitalism breed a demand for methods that conceal and obscure economic activity (e.g. tax havens, shadow banking, and offshoring)? How in turn does the state work to bring such hidden activities to light? 
  • To what extent does capitalism continue to depend on the hidden and uncompensated labor of reproduction and family maintenance, typically performed by women? How has the gendering of traditionally non-monetized activities influenced how we have subsequently monetized such services (e.g. elder care, child care, bartering of domestic services among friends and neighbors)? 
  • How should we conceptualize the differences between legal activity and illegal activity, and semi-legal gray market activity (e.g. smuggling, fraud, the dark web, and trade in vices, body parts, and adopted children)? How and to what extent are illicit and licit markets interconnected? 
  • How and to what extent does the freely-given creativity of actors working deliberately under the radar of the market (e.g. peer sharing, open source innovation) alternately advance business innovation and undermine established markets and modes of capital accumulation? 
  • In what ways does the visible market depend on invisible ones for its legitimacy and success? Does the hidden economy buoy capitalism, or destabilize it, or both?
  • How do understandings of risk and the nature of rewards for both the public and hidden economic activities interact and influence one another? What can be concluded about the connection between risk and reward in these contexts? 
  • How and to what extent do non-market forms of economic activity openly reject the moral imperatives of capitalism in the interest of distributive justice (e.g. dumpster diving, minimalist living, reuse of used goods)? 
Proposals of no more than 500 words and a one-page C.V. should be submitted to Carol Lockman at by May 1, 2017. Submissions from both historians and ethnographically oriented social scientists are welcome. Presenters will receive lodging in the conference hotel and up to $500 to cover their travel costs.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

CFP: CHARM 2017 Meeting and Doctoral Workshop

The 18th Biennial meeting of the Conference on Historical Analysis and Research in Marketing (CHARM) will be held June 1-4, 2017, at Liverpool John Moores University in Liverpool, UK. The theme of the meeting will be "Explorations in Globalization and Glocalization: Marketing History through the Ages." In the call for papers, the organizers say:
We call on scholars from around the world to cast a critical look on the history of marketing and how these outputs might be taken to reflect on past epochs to enhance our understanding. Both individual papers and entire panels on all aspects of marketing history, historic marketing, and the history of marketing thought in all geographic areas and all time frames are welcome.
Submissions, due by December 18, 2016, should be directed to the program chair, Richard A. Hawkins, at charm.liverpool.2017    
      The CHARM meeting also includes a Doctoral Workshop. Doctoral students with a particular interest in research methods in marketing history and marketing theory are invited to attend the full-day workshop that immediately precedes the conference. To be considered for this workshop, applicants should send a statement of interest, a CV, a preliminary or final dissertation prospectus of no more than 10 pages, and a letter of support from the dissertation supervisor (or prospective supervisor) to Maria Kalamas by December 5, 2016.
      For a more detailed description of the conference theme and more information about submissions to both the meeting and the workshop, please consult the full call for papers.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Over the Counter: Issue No. 28

In this edition of "Over the Counter":
A Junto post by Tom Cutterham, "Women and the History of Capitalism," highlights the essays by Ellen Hartigan O'Connor and Amy Dru Stanley in the Summer 2016 Journal of the Early Republic forum on women's history in the early Republic.

Among Warwick Digital Collections, a number of relevant series: "LEO--The World's First Business Computer"; digitized Railway Review from the 1880s and 1890s; and "Sales Catalogues of the Swedish East India Company" (in Swedish, but with an English-language discussion here).

The Messynessy blog posted an article on "Working in the Paris Fashion Industry 100 Years Ago," with many illustrations from Les Créateurs de la Mode (1910); the full text of that publication is available digitally as well from the Internet Archive.

The "Library and Archives Canada" blog features a colorful poster set from the Empire Marketing Board.

Roger Horowitz and his recent book, Kosher USA: How Coke Became Kosher and Other Tales of Modern Food, were featured on a recent Gastropod podcast; a written transcript is also provided.
    Which led us to another Gastropod episode of interest: "Outside the Box: The Story of Food Packaging," featuring the authors of Packaged Pleasures: How Technology and Marketing Revolutionized Desire, Gary Cross and Robert Proctor. 

Continuing with podcasts, BackStory Radio presented "Another Man's Treasure: A History of Trash"; among the guests interviewed were Bart Elmore, who explained how big business lies behind early efforts to encourage Americans to recycle, and Carl Zimring, who talked about the scrap metal trade in the late nineteenth century. Transcripts can be found on the segment websites.

For those in the Virginia area, the Jamestown Settlement is running a special program from June through December 10, 2016: "Bartering for a Continent: How Anglo-Indian Trade Shaped America."

Duke University's Hartman Center recently acquired sixteen trade cards for brands of soap, designed by Charlotte Perkins Gilman; examples are featured on the Rubenstein Library's blog.

In honor of its 350th anniversary in 2015, the Saint-Gobain group has created an interesting website featuring key moments in the company's history. (The link here is to the English-language version.) Other segments of the anniversary "Expo" may be accessed here.

University of Pennsylvania professor Sarah Barringer Gordon’s essay “The African Supplement: Religion, Race, and Corporate Law in Early National America” has been awarded the 2016 Lester J. Cappon Prize, which honors the best article published in the William and Mary Quarterly in the previous year. The article "explores how corporate law in the early Republic provided African Americans with religious rights that were denied in other venues."

The New York Review of Books has a review of Robert Gordon's The Rise and Fall of American Growth by William Nordhaus. [The book, along with Jefferson Cowie's The Great Exception, is also reviewed by Jonathan Levy for Dissent, but that essay is behind a paywall.]

Over on the AHA blog, summer guest blogger Jesse Hysell adds two essays based on his research on  trade between Venice and Egypt.The series so far can be accessed here.

With funding from Wells Fargo Bank, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania has organized and restored its collection of materials relating to the Bank of North America. For information on the progress of this project, readers can consult the relevant HSP blog postings.

In a contribution to slavery and capitalism research, Blake Smith has an essay in Aeon on "Slavery as Free Trade," utilizing his research on the French East India Company.

Focusing on a more contemporary issue, Stephen Mihm writes about the history of Republicans and the tariff on Bloomberg View.

The program for the conference "L'industrie française dans la Grande Guerre," to be held in Paris on November 15-16, 2016, has been posted.

Louis Hyman was featured on a Public Radio International podcast on "What the rise of the gig economy means for the American dream"; a text interview is included.

Friday, August 12, 2016

NEH Awards “Next Generation PhD” Grants to Business Historians

This week the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) announced its newest grant recipients, including 28 awards totaling nearly $1.7 million, for its "Next Generation PhD" planning and implementation grants, designed to help academia rethink "how PhD students who immerse themselves deeply in graduate humanities research and writing can look to apply their skills and experience beyond teaching and professor positions to a broader range of careers." Three of these grants have been awarded to members of the business history community and their universities:
Edward Balleisen, Duke University ("Doctoral Training for the Versatile Humanist")
Kenneth Lipartito, Florida International University ("Bridging the Gap: Linking History PhD Training to Nonacademic Employment")
John Majewski, UC Santa Barbara ("Training for Nonacademic Careers in a Research-University Setting")
A (gated) Chronicle of Higher Education article discussing the grants quotes both Ken Lipartito and Ed Balleisen. Lipartito "wants students to have the option of having someone from outside the university serve on their dissertation committee. This person would be from a sector that the student may work in and help the student think about techniques that might be useful in the field."
"Changing that culture is going to be the hardest part," Mr. Lipartito says. "If a lot of your faculty still think nonacademic careers are second choices, it’s going to be hard to erase the sense among students that they should be thinking mostly about academia as the endpoint." [He adds that] he hasn’t noticed significant change on the issue since he left graduate school 30 years ago. He’s hoping interventions by outside groups like NEH and Mellon [which has a similar funding program] can help foster change.
At Duke, Ed Balleisen
hopes to hire a staff member who would help connect students with internships and provide stipends for students taking such opportunities. As an example of the value of such an approach, he points to a student whose dissertation focuses on the prisoners’ rights movement in North Carolina. The student worked as an intern with a civil-rights group that focuses on prisoners’ rights. 
"We really don’t see an antagonism between preparing people to make a difference outside the university realm and being effective scholars and teachers within it," Balleisen said. (An announcement from Duke University about their plans is here.)
     In addition to these business historians, economic historian Kenneth Pomerantz at the University of Chicago is overseeing a program created by a previously awarded AHA-Mellon Career Diversity grant: "Starting next year, Chicago’s history department will offer a course in which students work in teams to create podcasts, a radio program, or other programming meant for a wider audience." Chicago, now also awarded an NEH "Next Generation" grant, will use it in part, "to create a series of programs for all first-year humanities Ph.D. students in which they create development plans and start thinking about multiple career paths from the start of their doctoral studies."
     The "Next Generation" initiative was also reported in the AHA blog.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

CHORD 2016 Conference Program Now Available

The Centre for the History of Retailing and Distribution (CHORD) will hold its 2016 conference in at the University of Wolverhampton on September 15. The theme for the meeting is "Retailing and Distribution before 1600." The program, which includes links to abstracts of the papers, has now been posted. For details about registration and other information, please consult the conference website. Questions may be addressed to Laura Ugolini at:

Monday, August 8, 2016

CFP: Special Issues of the Scandinavian Economic History Review

The Scandinavian Economic History Review has posted two calls for papers for special issues on topics of interest.
    The first is for an issue focusing on "The History of Business and War." The guest editor will be Erik Lakomaa of the Stockholm School of Economics. The deadline for submissions is November 1, 2016. For the complete call for papers and a listing of possible topics, please consult the journal website.
     The second is for an issue on "Retail Trade, Consumption, and the Construction of Markets from the 19th to the 21st Century." The co-editors for that issue will be Fredrik Sandgren of Uppsala University and Tristan Jacques, of the University of Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne/IDHES. The deadline for submissions is February 28, 2017. Please see the journal website for the complete call for papers.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Conference Report: “Law in the History of Capitalism”

Over at the Legal History Blog, Victoria Saker Woeste has provided an extensive report on "Law in the History of Capitalism," the recent conference for advanced graduate students organized by the Legal History Consortium on July 27-28, and sponsored by the American Bar Foundation and the University of Chicago Law School. Fifteen students were chosen to participate from a competitive field of fifty-eight applicants; among the several presenters well known in business history circles were Judge Glock, Elizabeth Harmon, Nate Holdren, and Sean Vanatta. Session topics included "Corporations, Personhood, and Privacy"; "Currency and National Debt in Comparative Perspective"; "The Capitalist Transition: Trade, Technology, and Slavery"; "Workers’ Compensation and the Historicization of Labor"; and "Credit, Markets, and Regulation in the Postwar Era." The plenary address was provided by Christine Desan of Harvard Law School, who spoke about "Making the Modern Market: Capitalism and Legal Design."

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

CFP: EBHS 2017

Skirvin Hotel, Oklahoma City
The Economic and Business History Society (EBHS) will hold its 2017 annual meeting in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, on May 25-27. According to the conference website, proposals for presentations on any aspect of ancient to recent economic or business history are solicited, as are proposals for whole panels. Submissions from graduate students and non-academic affiliates are welcome.
     Proposals should include an abstract of no more than 500 words and contact details and may be submitted through the EBHS website or via email to The deadline for submissions is February 15, 2017.
     Questions about the meeting or organization may be addressed to Program Chair Vincent Geloso,, or EBHS President Fred Gates, Please see the complete call for papers for additional information.