Monday, May 4, 2015

Digital Resource: Foreign Relations of the United States

In 2009 the Office of the Historian embarked on a multi-year program to digitize the entire Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) series and post these for public access at This series, the official documentary record of U.S. foreign policy, dates back to 1861 and consists of over 500 volumes and hundreds of thousands of annotated primary sources from the National Archives, presidential libraries, and agency records. To date, the digitization initiative has resulted in the publication of nearly 250 volumes – or half of the entire back catalog – of the Foreign Relations series. Until this spring, the volumes were released silently, being added to the website as they were completed. These volumes are also available as e-books without charge from the FRUS website.
     The most recent update includes twenty volumes covering 1948-1951, providing insight into the early Cold War years, including the construction of the national security state. Future releases will be announced as volumes are completed; a section of the website details the status of the series digitization project.
       Many users will be aware that a major portion of FRUS has been available on-line as page images for some years via the University of Wisconsin Madison Digital Collections Center. For the Office of the Historian project, the Madison Center has provided the scanned images of these volumes, which the Office converted into high-quality text. When one accesses a page on the State Department FRUS website, one sees it as a highly readable and accurate webpage; a link to an image of the page is also provided.
        For more information about the plans and progress of the Office of the Historian's FRUS digitization, please see the official announcement on the HistoryAtState blog.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Web Resource: "Leading Ladies in the World of Seeds"

A recent two-part post (here and here) from the Biodiversity Library blog features the role of women in the "world of seeds." According to the site, "Unlike other businesses such as banking or manufacturing, the flower and seed industry, with a strong connection to the home, was considered a more suitable occupation for women in the nineteenth century." The heavily illustrated articles detail the careers of well-known "seed women" such as Ella Barnes and Carrie Lippincott. In addition to the information in the posts, the Library provides links to many catalogs and other materials, both in its own holdings and in those of other repositories. Those interested in this topic might also want to look at the "Mail Order Gardens" on-line exhibit from Cornell University's Mann Library, featured in part two of the Biodiversity Library post.
     The Biodiversity Heritage Library is a consortium of major natural history, botanical, and research libraries that cooperate to digitize and make accessible the literature of biodiversity held in their collections.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Web Resource: LSE Digital Library

The Digital Library of the London School of Economics (LSE) is a growing collection of items from the School's holdings. According to the website, the Digital Library
is the Library's repository of digital items and collections. These items and collections are made available online for anyone who might wish to make use of them for education, research or general interest. . . . The Digital Library contains digitised material from the Library's collections and also born-digital material that has been collected and preserved in digital formats.
The site is searchable, or users may browse through various collections. These currently include tracts, minute books, and pamphlets from the Fabian Society and the Young Fabians; the papers of Lionel Robbins (including his Bretton Woods diary); materials from the LSE Women's Library (including a chronological presentation of more than 300 items from the 16th century to the present); poster collections (including, for example, political and tariff reform posters); The Beaver (the paper of LSE's Student Union); a digitized version of Street Life in London (1876-77); and Beatrice Webb's diaries.

    The plan is to continue to expand the digital materials to include maps and statistical material.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Program Posted: OIEAHC-SEA Conference

Detail, Chicago 1868, Library of Congress
 The 2015 meeting of the Omohundro Institute for Early American History and Culture (OIEAHC), which will be held jointly with the Society of Early Americanists (SEA), will take place in Chicago on June 18-21, 2015. The program has now been posted. Probably of most direct interest are Session 16, on the French Company of the Indies in the Atlantic world; Session 29, on "Commerce, Health, and Medical Knowledge in the Eighteenth-Century Atlantic World"; Session 35, "Smuggling almost with impunity"; and Session 37, "Doing Business in the Early Atlantic." Several other sessions include papers on areas such as property rights, slavery, gender, and material culture also of interest to business and economic historians.

    For full information about the conference, please see the meeting website.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Program: 2015 Congress of the International Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies

The 14th Congress of the International Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies (ISECS) will be held at Erasmus University in Rotterdam on July 27-31, 2015. The ISECS is an interdisciplinary organization, home to members working in a variety of disciplines, time periods, and geographical spaces, and offering materials in both English and French. Because the theme of the 14th Congress (comprehensively described here) is "Opening Markets: Trade and Commerce in the Eighteenth Century," many of the sessions will be of interest. The full draft program has now been posted. 
    Early registration ends on May 15, 2015; on-line registration closes on July 15. For complete information about the meeting, please visit the Congress website.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

New Books of Interest: Spring Edition

A list, by no means complete, of books of interest to business and economic historians published or forthcoming between March and June 2015 :

Francesca Bray, Peter Coclanis, Edda Fields-Black, and Dagmar Schaefer, eds., Rice: Global Networks and New Histories (Cambridge University Press, March 2015)

Richard Davenport-Hines, Universal Man: The Lives of John Maynard Keynes (Basic Books, May 2015)

Timothy Gloege, Guaranteed Pure: The Moody Bible Institute, Business, and the Making of Modern Evangelicalism (North Carolina University Press, April 2015)

Kevin M. Kruse, One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America (Basic Books, April 2015)

David Kynaston and Richard Roberts, The Lion Wakes: A Modern History of HSBC (Profile Books, March 2015)

Adrian Leonard and David Pretel, eds., The Caribbean and the Atlantic World Economy: Circuits of Trade, Money and Knowledge, 1650-1914 (Palgrave Macmillan April 2015)

Paul Lerner, The Consuming Temple: Jews, Department Stores, and the Consumer Revolution in Germany, 1880–1940 (Cornell University Press, April 2015)

Douglas McCalla, Consumers in the Bush: Shopping in Rural Upper Canada (McGill-Queen's University Press, March 2015)

Calvin Schermerhorn, The Business of Slavery and the Rise of American Capitalism, 1815-1860 (Yale University Press, April 2015)

Brett Sheehan, Industrial Eden: A Chinese Capitalist Vision (Harvard University Press, April 2015)

Robert E. Wright and Richard Sylla, Genealogy of American Finance (Columbia University Press, March 2015)

For a more extensive selection, please see the "Books of Interest" section of the BHC website.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Workshop: “Varieties of Capitalism in the Americas”

On June 4, 2014, the Centre for Economic and Business History (CEBH) at the University of Nottingham is holding a one-day workshop on "The Varieties of Capitalism in the Americas." According to the announcement,
This workshop aims to investigate the various histories and varieties of capitalism in the Americas. It is a common trope that in the US, at least, the War of Independence heralded in a modern, more capitalist (and better?) society. However, there are many definitions of capitalism and many types; taking case studies from 16th-century South America to the 21st-century US, this workshop aims to challenge any simple teleology of the rise or development of capitalism, or indeed any central type.
Speakers and topics are
Dr Elvira Vilches, North Carolina State University
Reckoning for Silver: The Global, the Local, and the Making of Money in Colonial Latin America
Dr Emma Hart, University of St Andrews
Trading Cattle and the Histories of Early American Capitalism
Dr Rory Miller, University of Liverpool
Business Groups, Multinationals and the State: Latin American Varieties of Capitalism
Dr Marc-William Palen, University of Exeter
Copying American Capitalism: The Global Response to American Economic Nationalism
Abstracts of some papers are available here. The workshop is free, but attendees must register, no later than May 18. For additional details, please see the meeting website.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Over the Counter: Issue No. 14

"The Vault" at Slate recently displayed a telephone map of the United States in 1910, showing where lines existed at that time. The original source is the David Rumsey Map Collection.

98 Acres in Albany is a community history project dedicated to documenting the people displaced and the structures demolished to make way for the Nelson A. Rockefeller Empire State Plaza. The goal is to digitally reconstruct and repopulate the 40 city blocks as they were in 1962. The website is the creation of Ann Pfau (independent historian), David Hochfelder (University of Albany), and Stacy Sewell (St. Thomas Aquinas College).

Jonathan Coopersmith has become a blogger for HNN, with a series called "Infinity, Limited."

A number of recent texts of interest have been in the news:
  • At New Books in History, Gavin Wright is interviewed about Sharing the Prize: The Economics of the Civil Rights Revolution in the American South (Harvard University Press).
  • Steve Fraser's The Age of Acquiescence: The Life and Death of American Resistance to Organized Wealth and Power (Little, Brown) was reviewed by Naomi Klein in the New York Times; Fraser can be heard discussing the book on NPR's On Point; and he writes about the book on the History News Network.
  • Claire Potter, who writes the "Tenured Radical" blog for the Chronicle of Higher Education, focuses on Michael Zakim's article on "Paperwork" in the journal Raritan (vol. 33, no. 4).
  • The Spectator has a review of Richard Davenport-Hines' recent biography of John Maynard Keynes, Universal Man: The Seven Lives of John Maynard Keynes (Collins).
  • Cambridge University Press has posted a YouTube interview with Simon Ville, co-editor (with Glenn Withers) of the Cambridge Economic History of Australia.
The Rothermere American Institute at the University of Oxford recently held a conference on "Gold Rush Imperialism: Gold Mining and Global History in the Age of Imperialism, c.1848-1914." The program is available here.

The blog for JF Plak Science Books has posted an interesting array of illustrations from a World War II propaganda publication, The Battle of Supplies.

William Lazonick has won the annual McKinsey Award for the most influential article published in the 2014 volume of the Harvard Business Review. He was awarded the prize for his article, "Profits without Prosperity" from the September 2014 issue. He is interviewed about the article here.

Last month the History Department at the University of Birmingham sponsored a workshop in honor of Francesca Carnevali, "Economic History as if People Mattered." The program is available here.

On C-Span's Book TV, we have a video of Sven Beckert discussing his book Empire of Cotton at the Heilbroner Center for Capitalism Studies at the New School for Social Research. Beckert was introduced by Julia Ott of the New School (about 7 minutes in).

One can also see Julia Ott and Louis Hyman discussing the history of capitalism at the University of Virginia's Miller Center in January.

Friday, April 17, 2015

New UK Group: The Business History Network

A new group has recently been established in the UK called the Business History Network. According to the organization's website,
The Business History Networks brings together early-career researchers from all disciplines with an interest in business history. We want to create a network that helps increase the quality and impact of business history in the UK and build long-term collaborative relationships between the participants of our workshops. . . . We strongly invite researchers from other disciplines such as sociology, law, management, economics, and the humanities, whose research is on business history.
The group's initial activities are two workshops; the first was held in March; the second will take place on June 18, 2015. The program for both can be found here. Questions about the network can be addressed to Jasper Bittner, who is a doctoral student in Economic and Social History at the University of Oxford working on bankruptcy law in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Europe.
    The Business History Network is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and supported by the University of Oxford.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

SEC Historical Society: Gallery on Corporate Governance

Detail from J.S. Pughe cartoon, Puck, v. 61 (1907), LoC
The latest in the on-line galleries hosted by the Securities and Exchange Commission Historical SocietyI focuses on corporate governance. In the words of the curators,
This Gallery traces the development of corporate governance regulation of publicly-traded companies in the United States at the federal level. It chronicles the fitful search for a golden mean between power and responsibility, and the quest for a balance of rules that would allow managers the flexibility and authority required to run a successful firm while ensuring that corporate owners had a say in how their businesses were run.
Digitized materials include cartoons, letters, legislation, pamphlets, and other relevant documents. For example, there are letters and essays from Adolf Berle and Gardiner Means, transcripts of congressional hearings, SEC commissioners' and congressional correspondence, SEC Minutes, and oral histories.
    The Gallery was prepared and built by Carla Rosati; it is funded by the support of the Center for Audit Quality.