Monday, May 30, 2011

CFP: Immigration and Entrepreneurship—An Interdisciplinary Conference

An interdisciplinary conference on "Immigration and Entrepreneurship" will be held in Fall 2012, cosponsored by the Center for the History of New America (University of Maryland), the Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute (University of Maryland), and the German Historical Institute (Washington, D.C.). Conveners are David B. Sicilia and David F. Barbe, University of Maryland, College Park, and Hartmut Berghoff, German Historical Institute and University of Göttingen. The call for papers states, in part:
The United States has long been an immigrant society as well as an entrepreneurial society. This is no coincidence: immigrants launch new enterprises and invent new technologies at rates much higher than native-born Americans. As the volume of in-migration again approaches that of the “new immigration” at the turn of the twentieth century, it is time to measure how immigrants have shaped the American economy in the past and how immigration policy reform in 1965 has fostered the transformation of business and economic life in the United States.  How have newcomers shaped and in turn been shaped by American economic life?
Proposals for papers are invited from scholars working in a variety of disciplines–including but not limited to history, sociology, economics, business administration, entrepreneurial studies, anthropology, and cultural studies. Comparative studies across time and place are especially welcomed.

The conference will engage these and related research topics:
  • immigrant group styles and patterns of entrepreneurship
  • immigrant entrepreneurship and U.S. economic development
  • geography of ethnic entrepreneurship
  • journeys of successful high-tech entrepreneurs
  • immigrant entrepreneurs as small proprietors
  • success and failure narratives and other discourse surrounding ethnic immigrant entrepreneurship
  • barriers to immigrant entrepreneurial success
  • policy implications of historical and contemporary research on immigrant entrepreneurship
For full consideration, please submit a 200-word abstract and a short c.v. to by September 15, 2011. The full call for papers can be found on the GHI website.

The conference will take place in College Park, MD, and Washington, D.C., in the fall of 2012. Presenters will be given accommodations and a travel stipend. Selected conference presenters will be invited to publish their work in an edited scholarly volume of essays that will grow out of the conference.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Digital Resources: U.S. Electoral Data, 1787-2008

Given the important relationships between business and the state (see the theme for the 2012 Business History Conference meeting), business and economic historians are often interested in political data. For the United States, more and more of this information has been digitized and is freely available on-line. 
   In 2008 the University of Richmond launched "Voting America: United States Politics, 1840-2008." That site uses interactive maps and county election data to allow both narrow and broad analysis of presidential elections since 1840, and also of some congressional elections. The site was redesigned and relaunched in 2011, and the project managers continue to add data and refine the presentation. (Researchers can also find county-level data for U.S. presidential and congressional elections, 1840-1972, at the ICPSR site).
   At about the same time, "A New Nation Votes: American Election Returns, 1787-1825" appeared. Presented by the American Antiquarian Society and Tufts University with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the data is based on the work of researcher Philip J. Lampi, who has been collecting election return data for over forty years. As the project organizers explain:
When this project is complete it will include all 25 states and territories that existed at the time. Please keep in mind that this project is a work in progress. The elections for the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina and Rhode Island contain all of the data that Philip Lampi has collected and are now available in Version 1.0. All other states are still being worked on and elections will be made available as data entry is completed. . . . The data is very diverse and involves all offices from the Federal to the local levels including Presidential elections, town clerk elections and everything in between. . . . The available election returns are fully searchable by such key index points as year, geographical constituency, office, names of candidates, and party labels.
In addition to searching the database on-line, users may also download all or part of it to manipulate on their own. The project is ongoing, with just over half of Lampi's data digitized as of December 2010.

   The "New Nation Votes" information is particularly significant, because much of it previously has been so inaccessible. Before the early nineteenth century, election records were routinely destroyed, and in the new nation voting itself had none of the mechanisms of the modern era. Lampi combed thousands of newspapers, many of them held by the American Antiquarian Society, to search out and codify election data.
   An account of Philip Lampi's work and the efforts to digitize his data can be found in this issue of the NEH magazine, Humanities.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

CFP: "International Investment in North America, 1700 to 1860"

The Program in Early American Economy and Society (PEAES) at the Library Company of Philadelphia and the Rothschild Archive, London, will jointly sponsor the twelfth annual PEAES conference, “Foreign Confidence: International Investment in North America, 1700 to 1860,” to be held October 11-12, 2012, in Philadelphia.

In addition to invited conference guests, proposals are solicited for papers on the conference theme, which is intended to encompass the varied ways that foreign networks of individuals and institutions provided funds and credit to North Americans for commerce, internal development, philanthropy, banking, and other forms of transnational investment. New research that highlights the great reach of capital and credit from Europe into North America and then out into many empires and world regions are especially welcome, as are proposals concerning, for example, the role of strategic international marriages, transnational secrecy and information sharing, the financial collaboration of families across imperial boundaries, and collaborative and competitive lending by individuals and early banks across national boundaries. We also encourage proposals from scholars of banking practices pioneered by the Rothschilds, Baring Bros., Hope & Co., and other institutions that had an impact on early North American development.  Papers reflecting on the rich international archives that illuminate transnational investing relationships are also welcome.

Proposals of two to three pages, accompanied by a brief CV, should be submitted as a single PDF file no later than September 1, 2011, to Cathy Matson, PEAES director, at Notices of acceptance will be sent out by November 1, 2011; all presenters will submit completed papers of 30 to 35 pages by September 10, 2012.  Papers will be pre-circulated to conference registrants.

Update: The full call for papers is now available on the PEAES website.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Items of Interest in the April AHA Perspectives

The April 2011 issue of the American Historical Association's magazine, Perspectives, is now freely available to members and non-members alike. The issue contains a forum on "The Art of the Article," featuring several authors well-known to the Business History Conference: Aaron Marrs, Peter Coclanis, and Elizabeth Tandy Shermer, as well as Catherine E. Kelly, editor of Common-Place. Also of interest are an essay on Oliver Stone's Wall Street films by Joyce Appleby and one by Jonathan Rees updating his earlier article on teaching history with YouTube.
   The AHA makes available the full contents of each issue of Perspectives one month after publication.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

History of Technology WITH Group Travel Award Applications Available

Women in Technological History (WITH), a Special Interest Group of the Society for the History of Technology (SHOT), announces the availability of its travel awards for 2011. The purpose of the award is to encourage participation of “new voices” at the SHOT annual meeting. WITH invites applications from scholars presenting topics or perspectives underrepresented in SHOT as well as from individuals who can contribute to the annual meeting’s geographic and cultural diversity.
   The SHOT 2011 meeting will be held in Cleveland, Ohio, November 3-6, 2011. This year the meeting will be co-located with the annual meetings of the History of Science Society and the Society for Social Studies of Science.
   The WITH Travel Award is open to individuals who are giving a paper at the SHOT annual meeting. Priority for the WITH award will go to: 1) a scholar or graduate student new to SHOT belonging to a group underrepresented in SHOT, whose paper addresses issues of gender, race, ethnicity, and/or difference in the history of technology; 2) a non-US, non-Western graduate student or scholar new to SHOT presenting on any topic.
   Application deadline for the WITH Travel Award is June 15, 2011. For more information and the application form, see the WITH homepage or contact Susan Schmidt Horning, chair of the award committee, at

Friday, May 20, 2011

Economics and the Historian

Followers of the BHC, which as an organization embraces scholars in both history and economics departments (as well as those in business schools, public policy venues, and many others), may find  interesting a post and follow-up discussion by David Bernstein, a law professor at George Mason University, over at the Legal History Blog. In the original post, titled "How Historians Can Benefit from Economics," Bernstein wrote,
. . . historians could benefit from economics in two ways. First, economists are very good at defining their terms, something that seems to me to be a weakness among many historians. . . . A lack of precision isn’t conducive to good history writing. Second, economics can help historians find interesting topics to research. Consider “company towns.” Standard histories assert that large mining and other companies exploited . . .  workers by forcing them to live in company housing and buy from company stores. But when an economist reads about company towns, an obvious question arises: if the companies were simply out to exploit their workers, who lacked the bargaining power to resist, why not just pay them less? A mining company has no particular expertise in running a housing market, or a store; it would be much easier, and more profitable, to simply offer lower wages and let the workers fend for themselves. But economics teaches us that companies aren’t likely to do something that’s contrary to self-interest, so that leaves several possibilities to be investigated by historians.
The follow-up post responds to comments and takes up the issue of "company towns" more specifically.

Digital Resource: The Plastics Collection at Syracuse University

 "I just want to say one word to you, just one word. . . . Are you listening? . . . Plastics.  . . . There's a great future in plastics. Think about it."
The Special Collections Research Center at the Syracuse University Library has created an on-line exhibit featuring its plastics collection. The website "combines narratives about the people, materials, and corporations responsible for our cultural embrace of plastic with a searchable digital collection of original research materials from Syracuse University Library, including manuscripts, printed materials, photographs, and artifacts. . . . The Plastics Collection at the Syracuse University Library, founded in 2008, is the largest university-based resource on the history of plastics. The purpose of the Plastics Collection is to serve as a research and programming center to advance the study and understanding of plastics in modern society, including its role in chemistry, technology, industry, marketing, health, art, design, and other fields." The exhibit, divided into Industry, Collection, and People sections, may be browsed by topic or searched.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Job Posting: Project Associate at the GHI

The German Historical Institute jn Washington, DC (GHI) is seeking a full-time Project Associate for its collaborative research project, Immigrant Entrepreneurship. The multi-year project is aimed at fostering research into two cornerstones of the American experience, immigration and entrepreneurship. It will feature a published collection—in print and online—of ca. 250 biographical essays of first- and second-generation German-American business people. By synthesizing the diverse fields of business history, entrepreneurship research, migration history, and German-American studies, Immigrant Entrepreneurship will make a significant contribution to a wide array of academic disciplines and offer unique tools for research and teaching. Further information about the project can be found at

The Project Associate will
  • seek contributors and commission essays for Volume I: "From the Colonial Economy to Early Industrialization (1720-1840)" and Volume II: "The Emergence of an Industrial Nation (1840-1893)"
  • be the GHI liaison between the volume editors and the contributors, providing for a smooth flow of information between all parties involved and ensuring the scholarly quality and timely delivery of all essays and materials
  • help locate images and additional visual material for Volumes I and II, including copyright clearance
  • copyedit essays in Volumes I and II
  • post essays on the project website, including assigning metadata
  • assist with convening project-related conferences, workshops, panels and events
  • perform other project-related tasks as needed (assist with further research, fact-check, etc.)
M.A. degree in a pertinent discipline (History, Business History, Migration Studies or a related field) or equivalent
strong writing skills in English; knowledge of German a plus
excellent communication and teamwork skills
valid U.S. work permit
Applicants should email a cover letter, a CV, a writing sample (no more than 10 pages) and the names and contact information of two professional references in PDF format by June 10, 2011, to Prof. Dr. Hartmut Berghoff, Director, at Incomplete applications will not be considered.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Omohundro Institute: 2011 Program and 2012 Call for Papers

Several items of interest from the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture (OIEAHC):

   The Institute will hold its annual meeting June 17-19, 2011, at the State University of New York, New Paltz. The program and registration details are now available on-line. Presenters who also participated in the recent Business History Conference meeting include Kim Todt of Cornell University, who will discuss "The Migration of Dutch Women to New Netherland under Employment Contracts," and Joseph Adelman of Johns Hopkins University, who will speak on "Printers and the Representation of Public Opinion in the Revolutionary Media." Other topics of interest include the slave trade and mercantilism, pearls as an imperial commodity, New England-West Indies trade, Quaker poverty assistance, and piracy.
    The Institute's call for papers for the 2012 meeting, which will be held at the Huntington Library in San Marino, California, on June 15–17, 2012, has also been posted, and suggests a strong economic history component. The program committee, chaired by Peter Mancall, indicates that it
will consider all proposals relevant to early American, Atlantic, and eastern Pacific world history broadly conceived. The setting of the conference near the shores of the Pacific suggests the special appropriateness of submissions related to oceanic history: maritime history; the long-distance movement of people and goods; the economic and spiritual encounters of Native Americans, Europeans, Africans; transnational identities; mapping and imagining America in a global and oceanic context; travel narratives; the environment and climate of the sea; fish, salt, whales, shells, and other oceanic products; island experiences and literature; and the creation of new kinds of communities. The program committee . . . particularly encourages submissions that examine long-distance movements through the Atlantic and the Pacific and the results of these voyages. 
The deadline for proposals is September 15, 2011.
  In other Institute-related news, Ellen Hartigan-O'Connor, 2004 co-winner of the BHC's Kerr Prize, will be presenting her work on "Women, Auctions, and Economic Power in Early America" at the upcoming OIEAHC workshop on Women in Early America, to be held May 26-28, 2011, at the Huntington Library. And finally, a reminder that the deadline for paper proposals for the 2012 "Political Arithmetick" conference is July 31, 2011.

Friday, May 13, 2011

New and Forthcoming Books of Interest: Spring 2011 Edition

A sampling of recently published and forthcoming books on topics of interest:
Franco Amatori and Andrea Colli, Business History: Complexities and Comparisons (Routledge, forthcoming, May 2011)
Donica Belisle, Retail Nation: Department Stores and the Making of Modern Canada (UBC Press, February 2011)
Dan Breznitz and Michael Murphree, Run of the Red Queen: Government Innovation, Globalization, and Economic Growth in China (Yale University Press, April 2011).
Alexander Field, A Great Leap Forward: 1930s Depression and U.S. Economic Growth (Yale University Press, April, 2011)
Julia C. Ott, When Wall Street Met Main Street: The Quest for an Investors' Democracy (Harvard University Press, forthcoming, May 2011)
Sara B. Pritchard, Confluence: The Nature of Technology and the Remaking of the Rhône (Harvard University Press, February 2011)
Emanuela Scarpellini, Material Nation: A Consumer's History of Modern Italy (Oxford University Press, forthcoming, April 2011)
Michael Stamm, Sound Business: Newspapers, Radio, and the Politics of New Media (University of Pennsylvania Press, April 2011)
Philip J. Stern, The Company-State: Corporate Sovereignty and the Early Modern Foundations of the British Empire in India (Oxford University Press, March 2011)
Maki Umemura, The Japanese Pharmaceutical Industry: Its Evolution and Current Challenges (Routledge, March 2011)
Richard White, Railroaded: The Transcontinentals and the Making of Modern America (W.W.  Norton, forthcoming, May 2011)
Daqing Yang, Technology of Empire: Telecommunications and Japanese Expansion in Asia, 1883-1945 (Harvard University Press, April 2011)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The "Military-Industrial Complex" at Fifty

We mentioned here earlier that the Spring 2011 number of Enterprise & Society was a special issue offering new perspectives on "the military-industrial complex." The occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of President Dwight Eisenhower's speech of January 17, 1961, in which he used the phrase, has occasioned a number of publications and commentaries. The speech itself is available as a video here and as a transcript here. The National Archives also has a video discussing the writing of the speech. The Eisenhower Institute held a commemorative event, which can be seen on video.
   Two recent journalistic treatments of the subject have also recently appeared: William Hartung, Prophets of War: Lockheed Martin and the Making of the Military-Industrial Complex (Nation Books, 2010) and James Ledbetter, Unwarranted Influence: Dwight D. Eisenhower and the Making of the Military-Industrial Complex (Yale University Press, 2011). The books were jointly reviewed in the Wall Street Journal and in The Statesman; the two authors participated in a conference at the New School, "The Military-Industrial Complex Revisited: Eisenhower's Warning at 50," which can be viewed as a video. Hartung can be seen discussing his book in an interview by Book TV; Ledbetter can be heard on a "Marketplace" radio interview.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Introducing FRESH: Frontier Research in Economic and Social History

FRESH: Frontier Research in Economic and Social History, is an international group based in the Department of Economics at the University of Copenhagen. As the organizers explain, "the meetings build on the concept that scholars present their ongoing research at an early stage, i.e. before it becomes published as a working paper or the like, and certainly before it is published in journals or books. The main aim of the meetings is to gather researchers in a friendly and non-imposing environment where they can present their research and receive constructive criticism from their peers." Researchers in any field of economic or social history are welcome to register as members; there is no charge. Upcoming meetings will be held in Gothenberg, Antwerp, Montevideo, and Münster. The program for the most recent meeting in Moscow is available on the FRESH website, as are programs from other previous meetings.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Historical GIS: Uses for Economic and Business History

The use of Historical Geographical Information Systems (HGIS) technology has been increasing in recent years. Maps used in GIS systems must be geo-referenced—that is, common coordinates or other information must be embedded in images so that multiple datasets can be applied to the same space. The technology has been in use for many years among geographers, but has only recently come to the attention of historians. At the same time, software programs for creating and viewing geo-referenced materials have become more widespread. A number of websites are now available that illustrate some of the possibilities in relation to economic history topics:
Beyond Steel: An Archive of Lehigh Valley Industry and Culture
Urban Transition Historical GIS Project
Mapping Decline: St. Louis and the Fate of the American City
David Rumsay Map Collection GIS Examples
Mapping the Du Bois Philadelphia Negro
Digital Harlem: Everyday Life, 1915-1930
The Grub Street Project: Topographies of Eighteenth-Century London
Shaping the West (Richard White on Railroads)
A Vision of Britain through Time
National (US) Historical GIS and Social Explorer

A short bibliography geared to explaining GIS to historians:
Anne Kelly Knowles, Past Time, Past Place: GIS for History, and Placing History
David J. Bodenhamer, et al., The Spatial Humanities
Ian Gregory and Paul Ells, Historical GIS
Update, July 29, 2011: See also Patricia Cohen's article in the July 26 New York Times, "Digital Maps Are Giving Scholars the Historical Lay of the Land."

Thursday, May 5, 2011

CFP: British Group in Early American History 2011 Conference

The British Group in Early American History has issued a call for papers for its 2011 meeting, which will be held September 9-11, 2011, at the University of Kent at Canterbury. The theme of the conference is " 'The Growing Daughter': Economies and Cultures in the Development of Early America, 1600-1820." The call for papers states:
The conference organisers welcome proposals for individual papers; for complete panels (of typically three speakers), or for roundtables and other emerging conference formats. . . . The themes of this year’s conference—Economies and Cultures in the Development of Early America—will offer delegates the opportunity to think afresh about the development (broadly defined and interpreted) of the British American colonies. In particular, it is hoped that discussions will re-visit the economic history of the colonies and will test the possibilities of blending economic analysis with the study of political institutions and cultures in assisting or obstructing the development of Early America. Interested participants should also feel free to submit proposals in their own areas of interest.
Proposals (one page for individuals, three pages for a panel or collective presentation) should be submitted directly to conference coordinator Will Pettigrew at by June 10, 2011. Proposals should include a very brief c.v., contact details, and indication of audiovisual needs. For more details, see the complete call for papers.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Business History Review: Recent Articles on Large Topics

As reported earlier, the Business History Review is now being distributed by Cambridge University Press. In the first issue of the new partnership, the Spring 2011 number, the editors (Walter Friedman and Geoffrey Jones) have taken the opportunity "to consider the work published by business historians over the past ten years, and to think about the future direction of the journal as well as of the field more broadly." The full essay, "Business History: Time for Debate," is available on  the BHR's HBS website.
   Readers may also be particularly interested in the Winter 2010 volume, which is a special issue on "Business History and the Varieties of Capitalism." The issue features a Roundtable by V. R. Berghahn, Gary Herrigel, Martin Jes Iversen, Cathie Jo Martin, Rory M. Miller, Kathleen Thelen, Richard Whitley, Mira Wilkins, and Jonathan Zeitlin, which is available on-line. The BHR routinely makes one or two of the articles and book reviews in each issue freely available.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

"Health for Sale" Poster Exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

From April 1 to July 31, 2011, the Philadelphia Museum of Art will be hosting an exhibition entitled  "Health for Sale: Posters from the William H. Helfand Collection." Several of the images are available for viewing on-line at the PMA website. This exhibition presents some fifty of the nearly two hundred posters in this collection, only a small fraction of the materials Helfand, a former Merck executive, has collected. The posters address a wide range of topics, such as promoting hygiene, announcing medical conferences, and advertising miracle cures. An extended interview with Helfand can be found at the Design Observer, which also includes selected images. An exhibition catalog has been published by Yale University Press.
   Other useful sources for medical images, not limited to posters, include the Wellcome Library in London and the National Library of Medicine in Bethesda, Maryland. Such materials are of interest to business historians because details of the early pharmaceutical trade and medical profession can often be found within these images.