Monday, January 23, 2017

Fellowship: Jefferson Scholars/Hagley Library Dissertation Fellowship in Business and Politics

The Jefferson Scholars/Hagley Library Fellowship in Business and Politics (formerly the Miller Center/Hagley Library Dissertation Fellowship) supports completion of exceptional dissertations for which the Hagley’s Library research materials constitute a significant source and that connect with the mission of the National Fellowship Program.

For many decades the Hagley Library has been the preeminent business history library in the United States, with over seven miles of manuscript materials, 300,000 published sources, and more than two million visual images. Hagley also sponsors significant scholarly programming, including seminars, conferences, and lectures pertaining to the relationship between business and politics. It is the administrative headquarters of the Business History Conference, the principal academic organization of business historians in the United States. More information on Hagley’s collections is available here.

Like other National Fellows, the Business and Politics Fellow is paired with a senior scholar in the fellow’s field who will serve as a mentor and provide critical guidance during the year. The Fellow also participates in the fall and spring conferences and receives training on how to reach broader audiences.

The Business and Politics Fellow is expected to be in residence at Hagley for the fall and spring academic year. While in residence, the Fellow will receive an office, stack access, inter-library loan privileges, internet access, and the opportunity to present a paper in Hagley’s seminar series. The Fellow receives a stipend of $25,000 for the year and free housing in Hagley’s scholar’s accommodations.

The application deadline is February 1, 2017. To apply, please go to:

Friday, January 20, 2017

In the News: Slave Insurance
The issue of slave insurance policies has recently been in the news. The New York Times published an article last month, "Insurance Policies on Slaves: New York Life's Complicated Past," while Michael Ralph and William Rankin just published their research data in Foreign Policy, "Decoder: The Slave Insurance Market" (with more information available on Rankin's "Radical Cartography" website).
     In 2000, the state of California commissioned a study on the topic, canvassing a number of life insurance companies and requesting a search of their records. This resulted in a 2002 report that outlined the information unearthed, which covered several states. In addition to the report itself, the Department of Insurance published a cache of documents on its website, collectively referred to as the "Slavery Era Insurance Registry": a chart organized by names of insured slaves; a table of slaveholders who had policies on their slaves; and photocopies of policies and other documents.
    The California initiative led to analogous studies by other states; Illinois published similar materials in 2004; Iowa and Maryland also commissioned reports but did not compile registers, though Maryland published company responses. A portion of  the Nautilus Insurance Company's Slavery Era Ledgers have been turned over to the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture; a few pages have been digitized. [Nautilus was a predecessor of New York Life.] A number of policies have been digitized on the "Unknown No Longer" project of the Virginia Historical Society. Finally, the Race and Slavery Petitions Project at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro can be searched on "insurance on slaves" as a field.
     Slave insurance has been a research topic for some time (see especially Sharon Ann Murphy, "Securing Human Property: Slavery, Life Insurance, and Industrialization in the Upper South," Journal of the Early Republic 25 [Winter 2005]: 615-52, and her later book, Investing in Life, and Dan Bouk, "The Science of Difference: Developing Tools for Discrimination in the American Life Insurance Industry, 1830-1930," Ph.D. diss., Princeton University, 2009 [both scholars are quoted in the NYT article]); it has been thrust into the spotlight by recent work on the connections between slavery and capitalism.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Business History/Historians around the Web

A few listings of interest, featuring business history and historians:
General trader ledger account from 1846 China
"The Enigma of Chinese Business Records" is a discussion on the NEP-His blog by Joyman Lee of the paper "Discovering Economic History in Footnotes: The Story of the Tong Taisheng Merchant Archive (1790-1850)" by Debin Ma and Weipeng Yuan.

Joseph Adelman, who teaches history at Framingham State University and researches the history of the printing business and the postal service in colonial America, was highlighted in John Fea's "The Way of Improvement Leads Home" blog for the achievement of "Bringing the 'Hamilton' Soundtrack to the History Syllabus."  Readers can find the syllabus here.

Marc Levinson has a blog in which he discusses current affairs in light of his scholarship, including his recent book An Extraordinary Time.

Over at "The Junto," Stephen Campbell writes about "Reimagining the Second Bank of the United States in Early American History."

Forbes recently featured an HBS "Working Knowledge" article by Harvard Newcomen Fellow Ai Hisano, "The Pardoxical Quest to Make Food Look 'Natural' with Artificial Dyes." She was also interviewed about her research for "Process," the blog of the Organization of American Historians, in "Eye Appeal Is Buy Appeal: Business Creates the Color of Foods."

Also on "Working Knowledge," readers can download an new paper by Geoffrey Jones and R. Wadhwani, "Historical Change and the Competitive Advantage of Firms: Explicating the 'Dynamics' in the Dynamic Capabilities Framework."
On the Princeton University Press blog, Ed Balleisen talks about the long history of fraud in America, discussing his new book, Fraud: An American History from Barnum to Madoff."

The Chronicle of Higher Education has published an essay continuing the slavery and capitalism debate, "Shackles and Dollars: Historians and economists clash over slavery." [Although the article is gated, many readers will be able to access it via institutional subscription.]

In related news, Barbara Hahn has uploaded her review of Beckert and Baptist, first published in the summer issue of Agricultural History, to the Academia website: "Emperors of New Clothes: Beckert, Baptist, and the New History of Capitalism." [Note also that the journal makes several reviews from each issue freely available; see]

Monday, January 16, 2017

New Books of Interest: Winter Edition

A (by no means all-inclusive) list of new and forthcoming books of interest to business and economic historians. For bibliographical reasons, the list is divided between titles published in December 2016 and those published or forthcoming in January and February 2017.

December 2016
Amy M. Froide, Silent Partners: Women as Public Investors during Britain's Financial Revolution, 1690-1750 (Oxford University Press, December 2016)

Hans Otto Frøland, Mats Ingulstad, and Jonas Scherner, eds., Industrial Collaboration in Nazi-Occupied Europe: Norway in Context (Palgrave, December 2016)

Richard R. John and Kim Phillips-Fein, eds., Capital Gains: Business and Politics in Twentieth-Century America (University of Pennsylvania Press, December 2016)

Laurence B. Mussio, A Vision Greater than Themselves: The Making of the Bank of Montreal, 1817-2017 (McGill-Queens University Press, December 2016)

Marina Nicoli, The Rise and Fall of the Italian Film Industry (Routledge, December 2016)

Guido Rossi, Insurance in Elizabethan England: The London Code (Cambridge University Press, December 2016)

Kevin Schmiesing, Merchants and Ministers: A History of Businesspeople and Clergy in the United States (Rowman & Littlefield/Lexington Books, December 2016)

John Tutino, ed., New Countries: Capitalism, Revolutions, and Nations in the Americas, 1750–1870 (Duke University Press, December 2016)

Emily Westkaemper, Selling Women's History: Packaging Feminism in Twentieth-Century American Popular Culture (Rutgers University Press, January 2017)

John F. Wilson, Steven Toms, Abe de Jong, and Emily Buchnea, eds., The Routledge Companion to Business History (Routledge, December 2016)
January-February 2017
William J. Ashworth, The Industrial Revolution: The State, Knowledge and Global Trade (Bloomsbury Publishing, January 2017)

Edward J. Balleisen, Fraud: An American History from Barnum to Madoff (Princeton University Press, January 2017)

Bernardo Batiz-Lazo and Leonidas Efthymiou, eds., The Book of Payments: Historical and Contemporary Views on the Cashless Society (Palgrave Macmillan, January 2017)

Hartmut Berghoff, Jan Logemann, and Felix Romer, eds., The Consumer on the Home Front: Second World War Civilian Consumption in Comparative Perspective (Oxford University Press, February 2017)

William K. Bolt, Tariff Wars and the Politics of Jacksonian America (Vanderbilt University Press, February 2017)

Jenny Bourne, In Essentials, Unity: An Economic History of the Grange Movement (Ohio University Press, February 2017)

Joanna Cohen, Luxurious Citizens: The Politics of Consumption in Nineteenth-Century America (University of Pennsylvania Press, February 2017)

Daniela Felisini, Alessandro Torlonia: The Pope's Banker (Palgrave Macmillan, January 2017)

Tyler Beck Goodspeed, Famine and Finance: Credit and the Great Famine of Ireland (Palgrave Macmillan, February 2017)

Marie Hicks, Programmed Inequality: How Britain Discarded Women Technologists and Lost Its Edge in Computing (MIT Press, January 2017)

Noam Maggor, Brahmin Capitalism: Frontiers of Wealth and Populism in America’s First Gilded Age (Harvard University Press, February 2017)

Ranald C. Michie, British Banking: Continuity and Change from 1694 to the Present (Oxford University Press, January 2017)

Jane T. Merritt, The Trouble with Tea: The Politics of Consumption in the Eighteenth-Century Global Economy (Johns Hopkins University Press, January 2017)

Daniel M. G. Raff and Philip Scranton, eds., The Emergence of Routines: Entrepreneurship, Organization, and Business (Oxford University Press, February 2017)

Yulian Wu, Luxurious Networks: Salt Merchants, Status, and Statecraft in Eighteenth-Century China (Stanford University Press, January 2017)

Friday, January 13, 2017

BHC 2017 Program Now Available

The Business History Conference (BHC) will hold its 2017 meeting in Denver, Colorado, on March 30-April 1. The theme for the meeting is "Civilizations"; for a full discussion of that theme, please see the call for papers. The program committee consists of Susie Pak (chair), St. John's University; Walter Friedman (BHC president), Harvard Business School; Eric D. Hilt, Wellesley College; Jessica Burch, Tougaloo College; Caitlin Rosenthal, University of California, Berkeley; and Lars Heide, Copenhagen Business School.
      The preliminary program for this year's meeting has now been posted on the BHC website. In addition to many sessions of interest, it features two plenary sessions. The opening plenary is "The Cultures of a Business Civilization," chaired by Laura Phillips Sawyer with discussion by Caitlin Rosenthal; presenters are Naomi Lamoreaux, Andrew Popp, Louis Galambos, and Marc Levinson. The second is "Keywords in American Economic and Business History," chaired by Julia Ott, with commentary by Eric Hilt; speakers are Lawrence Glickman, Richard R. John, Richard White, and Daniel Scroop.
      The formal meeting will be preceded by the Doctoral Colloquium, organized by Ed Balleisen, and two workshops, contents of the latter TBA.
      Please check the meeting website soon for registration information, which will appear shortly, as well as for updates to the program and colloquium.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Christopher Kobrak, 1950-2017

We are deeply saddened to report the death of Christopher Kobrak, Wilson/Currie Chair of Canadian Business & Financial History and long-time BHC member; he died this week in Paris. He was on the board of the European Business History Association, and served as a trustee of the Business History Conference, 2007-10. He worked on the BHC Finance Committee, 2010-2013 and was serving on the BHC's Hagley Prize Committee at the time of his death. He was also vice-chairman of the Canadian Business History Society and active in promoting its growth.
     Fellow business historian Andrew Smith has published an appreciation on his blog, "The Past Speaks," that provides an overview of Chris Kobrak's background and academic work. We will update this post with further details and links to obituaries and memorials as they become available.
   Jan. 13: Jeff Fear has added an appreciation on the ABH site.
   Jan. 14: "Remembering Chris Kobrak," dean of Rotman School of Management
   Jan. 15: "In Memoriam" from the EBHA via Andrea Schneider
   Jan. 19: A Memorial Blog has been established.

Monday, January 9, 2017

CFP: CHORD Workshop on Retailing, Distribution, and Reputation

The Centre for the History of Retailing and Distribution invites submissions for a workshop on "Retailing, Distribution, and Reputation: A Historical Perspective," to be held on May 23, 2017 at the University of Wolverhampton.
     Papers focusing on any historical period or geographical area are welcome. Both experienced and new speakers are invited, including speakers without an institutional affiliation. Potential speakers are welcome to discuss their ideas with the organizer before submission (please see below). Individual papers are usually 20 minutes in length, followed by 10 minutes for questions and discussion. Proposals for shorter, 10- minute ‘work in progress’ presentations may also be presented.
To submit a proposal, please send title and abstract of c.300 to 400 words, specifying type of presentation to Laura Ugolini, at by March 3, 2017. For suggestions of topics and additional details, please see the call for papers.
     News about CHORD events can also be found on the organization's blog.

Friday, January 6, 2017

CFP: AHA 2018

The American Historical Association (AHA) will hold its 2018 meeting in Washington, D.C., on January 4-7. The theme will be "Race, Ethnicity and Nationalism in Global Perspective"; the program committee co-chairs are Antoinette Burton and Rick Halpern. The organizers are hoping for a "rich and varied set of proposals" that will illuminate "how local and global ideas and practices of race, ethnicity, and other forms of difference have intersected over time in ways that have helped both to define the idea of the nation and to move it beyond its limits." The AHA encourages submission on the program theme, but the committee does not consider relevance to that theme in making acceptance decisions.
      The AHA has extensive guidelines under which the program committee operates; there is also a FAQ. Only proposals for complete sessions will be considered. Please see the complete call for papers for additional information.
     All proposals must be submitted electronically by midnight on February 15, 2017.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Reminder: BHC at AHA 2017

As folks set off to attend the 2017 American Historical Association meeting in Denver, which takes place January 5-8, a quick reminder of BHC-sponsored sessions and other program items of interest:
A luncheon on Friday, January 6, will focus on a round table discussion of "A New Materialism? The Economic and Beyond," with speakers Fahad Bishara (University of Virginia), Robyn d'Avignon (New York University), Geoff Eley (University of Michigan), and Christine Rosen (University of California, Berkeley). Ken Lipartito (Florida International University) will chair the session. The BHC also is a sponsor of AHA Session 239, “Capitalistic Visions, Complicated Realities: Entrepreneurs, Consumers, and Commercial Culture in the Early Republic,” which will take place on January 7 at 1:30. We also listed a number of sessions of particular interest earlier on The Exchange.
 A few additional sessions and individual papers in business and economic history (not an exhaustive list):
Session 143: "The 'Second Slavery' Worldwide"
Session 245: "The Caribbean beyond Sugar: New Approaches to Sinew Populations and Colonialism in the Early Modern Caribbean"
Elisabeth Engel, "Fear at the Beginning of American Independence: Approaching the Spatial History of Insurance" [session 12]
Hannah Farber, "Commercial Law, Imported and Re-exported" [session 16]
Brent Cebul, "Making 'Love to Our Entrepreneurs': Public R&D, Venture Capital, and the Forging of Postindustrial Policy, 1972–95" [session 40]
Jason W. Moore, "Empire, Capital, and the Rise of Cheap Nature, 1450–1750" [session 55]
Matthew Combs, "The Invention of Plastic: British Imperialists, American Businessmen, and Taiwanese Camphor, 1860–95" [session 190]
Kenneth Bindas, " 'Romance of Steel and Iron': The 1936 Great Lakes Exposition, Regional Identity, and the National Discourse" [session 261]
Andrew Meade McGee, "Regulating the Computer: Institutions, Information Processing, and State-Market Boundaries in the First Three Decades of the Digital Age" [session 327] 

Monday, January 2, 2017

Joyce Appleby, 1929-2016

Word comes that Joyce Appleby, professor emerita of history at UCLA, passed away on December 23 at the age of 87. Professor Appleby was well known among economic historians for her work, especially Ideology and Economic Thought in Seventeenth-Century England (1978); Capitalism and a New Social Order: The Republican Vision of the 1790s (1984); and The Relentless Revolution: A History of Capitalism (2010). In 1996, she helped establish the History News Service with James M. Banner to “encourage more historians to bring their knowledge to bear on public affairs.” A full academic biography is available on her website at UCLA.
    Appreciations of her life and scholarship can be found around the blogosphere at The Junto (by Michael Hattem); The Way of Improvement Leads Home (by John Fea); and The Faculty Lounge (by Alfred Brophy).
    Many interviews and talks by Professor Appleby are available on-line; a list can be found here.
    Updates: obituary in the New York Times, 1/3/17; appreciation by colleagues at the History News Network; tribute from Carla Gardena Pestana via OIEAHC.