Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Awards for Research in Postal History from the USPS

In the wake of our recent post on a GIS visualization of US Post Office expansion comes word of the Rita Lloyd Moroney Awards for Scholarship in Postal History from the US Postal Service. The USPS sponsors two annual prizes for scholarship on the history of the American postal system: scholarship by junior scholars (undergraduates and graduate students) is eligible for a $1,000 award; scholarship by senior scholars (faculty members, independent scholars, and public historians) is eligible for a $2,000 award.
  The awards honor Rita Lloyd Moroney, who began conducting historical research for the Postmaster General in 1962 and then served as Historian of the U.S. Postal Service from 1973 to 1991. These prizes are designed to encourage scholarship on the history of the American postal system and to raise awareness about the significance of the postal system in American life.
  The prizes are intended for scholarship on any topic on the history of the American postal system from the colonial era to the present—including the history of the imperial postal system that preceded the establishment of the American postal system in 1775. Though submissions must be historical in character, they can draw on the methods of disciplines other than history—e.g., geography, cultural studies, literature, communications, or economics. Comparative or international historical studies are eligible if the American postal system is central to the discussion.
   Submissions for the 2012 prize must be postmarked by December 1, 2011. Authors must submit three copies of each submission along with a cover letter in which the author attests that the submission meets the eligibility requirements. Send all materials to:
Professor Richard Kielbowicz
Department of Communication
Box 353740
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195
Please direct all questions to Professor Kielbowicz at the above address or to For a full explanation of award procedures, please see the USPS Moroney Awards page.
   The 2010 junior winner was Joseph M. Adelman, for "‘A Constitutional Conveyance of Intelligence, Public and Private’: The Post Office, the Business of Printing, and the American Revolution," published in Enterprise & Society 11 (December 2010): 709-52.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Journal Rankings and "Impact Factors" a Hot Topic

The July 2011 issue of the journal Organization has a special section on "Journal Publishing and Rankings," with the editors' introduction, "What Is a Critical Journal?" available for free download.
  This special attention comes at a time when a great deal of discussion is underway about the usefulness of "impact factors" and other journal ranking schemes (the Organization articles also discuss the Association of Business Schools list) in the wake of the release of lists for 2010. Many universities weigh publications according to the importance of the journal in which they appear, often assessed through Thomson Reuters Journal Impact Factor rankings. The issue until recently has been less pronounced in history and the humanities, but Journal Citation Reports now make citation and other data available for journals across many disciplines and countries. T-R says, "The recognized authority for evaluating journals, JCR presents quantitative data that supports a systematic, objective review of the world’s leading journals. Using a combination of impact and influence metrics, and millions of cited and citing journal data points that comprise the complete journal citation network of Web of Science, JCR provides the context to understand a journal’s true place in the world of scholarly literature." But worries continue that the data are misleading. For a quick overview related to history, see Robert Townsend's report on AHA Today. He concludes that "The narrow measure of the Journal Citation Reports makes many specialized and distinctive works of history invisible to the larger academic world, at considerable cost to the rest of us."
  Outside the United States, similar concerns abound, even as the quest for an appropriate ranking system continues. The European Reference Index in the Humanities was first published in 2008 by the European Science Foundation (Chronicle of Higher Education [CHE], October 10, 2008) (and Robert Townsend wrote a comment on the ERIH rankings on AHA Today). The system created such an outcry that the ESF went back to the drawing board, and recently released rankings based on a new scheme  (see CHE, July 13, 2011), only to have this version strongly criticized as well. The list site now has a disclaimer that reads: "[The list] is not intended as bibliometric information for use in assessment processes of individual candidates, be it for positions, promotions, research grant awards etc." This spring, the Australian government abandoned a journals ranking system that had generated much criticism from scholars in that country (see CHE and here).
     For the ERIH lists in history (2007 and 2011), see Andrew Smith's blog (they can also be filtered out from the ERIH overall list), and for the top 20 journals in history according to the 2010 Journal Citation Report, see here.

Monday, August 29, 2011

GIS: Visualizing US Expansion through Post Offices

In an interesting use of GIS, Derek Watkins, a graduate student in geography at the University of Oregon, has created a visualization showing how formal U.S. territorial control expanded in North America from 1700 to 1900, as seen through changes in the spatial distribution of post offices. (The image here is static; follow the link to see the dynamic mapping.) Watkins also points to a similar project showing the growth of newspapers across the United States, 1690-2011, at Stanford's Rural West Initiative.
  Business historians have long been familiar with the importance of the post office in business and economic development. See, for example, Richard R. John, Spreading the News: The American Postal System from Franklin to Morse (1995; pb, 1998); Martin Daunton, The Royal Mail: The History of the Post Office since 1840 (1985); Patricia L. Maclachlin, The People's Post Office: The History and Politics of the Japanese Postal System, 1871-2010 (forthcoming, 2011); and Richard Kielbowicz, News in the Mail: The Press, Post Office, and Public Information, 1700-1860s (1989).

Sunday, August 28, 2011

LSE Keynes-Hayek Debate on BBC

Friedrich Hayek
John Maynard Keynes
Efforts to deal with economic troubles around the world have brought renewed attention to two prominent economic thinkers of the twentieth century—John Maynard Keynes and Friedrich Hayek. As described in a nutshell by the London School of Economics, they "had sharply contrasting views: John Maynard Keynes believed that governments could create sustainable employment and growth. His contemporary and rival Friedrich Hayek believed that investments have to be based on real savings rather than fiscal stimulus or artificially low interest rates." In July, the LSE staged a debate between proponents of the two thinkers, George Selgin and Jamie Whyte representing Hayek and Robert Skidelsky and Duncan Weldon speaking for Keynes. Audio and video of the debate, broadcast originally by BBC Radio 4, can be accessed at the LSE site; a synopsis of comments can be found on the BBC site.
   The Keynes-Hayek dichotomy has spawned a good deal of web discussion during the past several years, including two rap videos purporting to showcase the competing views (though produced by the pro-Hayek side): "Fear the Boom and Bust" and "Fight of the Century: Keynes vs. Hayek Round 2," offered by John Papola and Russ Roberts of The video itself has been discussed by Jonathan Chait at The New Republic, The debate is amplified on the PBS Newshour, with Roberts speaking for Hayek and Adam Tooze supporting the Keynesian viewpoint.
  For those who want to go right to the source, many of Keynes's and Hayek's writings, including the General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money (1936) and Road to Serfdom (1944), are available on the New School's excellent History of Economic Thought website; scroll down beond the biographies to find links to writing by and about each economist.

Tip of the hat to Jonathan Bean.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Harvard-Newcomen Fellowship Applications Due October 14

The Harvard-Newcomen Postdoctoral Fellowship in Business History is awarded for twelve months' residence, study, and research at Harvard Business School, July 1, 2012-June 30, 2013.The fellowship is open to scholars who, within the last ten years, have received a Ph.D. in history, economics, or a related discipline. The fellowship has two purposes: The first is to enable scholars to engage in research that will benefit from the resources of Harvard Business School and the larger Boston scholarly community. About two-thirds of the fellow's time will be available for research of his or her own choosing. A travel fund and a book fund will be provided. The second purpose is to provide an opportunity for the fellow to participate in the activities of Harvard Business School. Approximately one-third of the fellow's time will be devoted to school activities, including attendance of the Business History Seminar, and working with faculty teaching the business history courses offered in the MBA curriculum. The fellow is required to research and write a case, under the direction of a senior faculty member, to be used in one of the business history courses. Finally, the fellow is encouraged to submit an article to BusinessHistory Review during his or her year at the School.
   Applicants should submit a CV, undergraduate transcript, and graduate-school record, thesis abstract, and writing sample (such as an article or a book chapter). Applicants should also state the topics, objectives, and design for the specific research to be undertaken. Finally, applicants should indicate the names of three people who will write references on their behalf. The three letters of recommendation are to be submitted by the writers directly by October 14, 2011. It is the responsibility of the applicant to solicit these letters. Please direct recommenders to visit:
   The fellowship will be awarded and all applicants notified by mid-January 2012. Applications should be received no later than October 14, 2011, and submitted to: If there are materials that can be sent only in hard copy, please send them to: Walter A. Friedman, Rock Center 104, Harvard Business School, Boston, MA 02163; email:

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

EHA Meeting Full Papers Now Available

The Economic History Association, meeting in Boston, Massachusetts, September 9-11, has now posted a  program breakdown with links to the full texts of papers. Papers can be accessed from the EHA conference website, by clicking on the individual days of the meeting. Full details and meeting logistics are available in the conference brochure; pre-registration is closed, but it is possible to register on-site.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Reminder: GHI Conference Proposal Deadline

Just a reminder that the deadline for proposals for "Immigration and Entrepreneurship: An Interdisciplinary Conference," 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.) is September 15, 2011. 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 conference will consider "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?"
   The original call for papers was posted here in May; full information may be found on the German Historical Institute website. Interested applicants need to submit a 200-word abstract and a short c.v. to
   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.

Monday, August 22, 2011

BGEAH September Conference Program Available

The British Group in Early American History (BGEAH), "an extra-institutional collective of scholars interested in the early modern Atlantic world," will hold its 2011 conference at the University of Kent in Canterbury, UK, on September 9-11. The theme is "The Growing Daughter: Economies and Cultures in the Development of Early America, 1600-1820." The program, now available on the BGEAH website, features keynote addresses by Cathy Matson, professor of history at the University of Delaware and director of the Program in Early American Economy and Society at the Library Company of Philadelphia, and by Philip D. Morgan, Harry C. Black Professor of History at Johns Hopkins University. Professor Matson will speak on "Local Subjects, Global Themes: Recent Refashioning of Colonial North American Economic History"; Professor Morgan will address "Slavery and Antislavery: The Caribbean Perspective."
   Please see the BGEAH conference page for registration details and other information.

Friday, August 19, 2011

CFP: European Association for Urban History

The European Association for Urban History (EAUH) will hold its next annual conference in Prague from August 29 to September 1, 2012. The theme will be "Cities & Societies in Comparative Perspective." The program committee has posted the list of session topics and descriptions, and scholars are encouraged to propose papers that fit within a specific session. Readers will find several topics that relate to economic history, urban trade and commercial networks, and other subjects of potential interest. Submissions should be made using the on-line system, following the instructions provided. All paper proposals must be received by October 1, 2011.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Conference: Consumption and Standards of Living

The Economic History Society and the Social History Society are co-sponsoring an international workshop on "Consumption and Standards of Living since the Eighteenth Century: Economic History, Social History, Cultural History," to be held at the University of Huddersfield on September 13, 2011. The full conference booklet, containing the program and paper abstracts, is now available on-line. In addition to multiple sessions, the conference will feature an opening address by Ian Gazeley, Professor of Economic History, University of Sussex, on "Standards of consumption, real incomes and nutrition in Britain, 1900-1940," and a closing talk by Jon Stobart, Professor of History, University of Northampton, on "Elite consumption in eighteenth-century England: fashion, status and personal preference." Registration information can be found on the Huddersfield website. Questions should be directed to the organizer, Dr. Paul Atkinson, at

Monday, August 15, 2011

Digital Resource: John Johnson Collection at the Bodleian Library

The Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford has a number of on-line exhibits of interest to business and economic historians. Perhaps most relevant is "A Nation of Shopkeepers: Trade Ephemera from 1654 to the 1860s in the John Johnson Collection." Images include a wide range of trade cards, bill heads, advertisements, and other ephemera related to trade in the period.
   A second exhibit also draws on the John Johnson collection. The "Toyota City Imaging Project" provides access to over 1,200 images focusing on motoring and transport. One can browse the whole database or narrow the selection by type of transport--trams, cars, air travel, bicycles, carts, ships, railroads, and carriages.
   Interested readers can find more about the John Johnson collection here (including search options). A huge selection of the Johnson materials have been digitized and licensed to ProQuest; these items are available freely to educational institutions and libraries in the United Kingdom but require subscription elsewhere. However, a small selection of the images in the ProQuest project is available by topic through a series of Image Galleries; these include relevant subjects such as "Advertising" and "Transport." Finally, there is a blog, "Curator's Choice," highlighting Johnson materials selected for digitization; various images and topics are featured there, many of them relevant to business history.
   The Bodleian also provides a complete listing of its digital collections here.

Friday, August 12, 2011

New Books of Interest: Mid-Summer Edition

A selection of new and forthcoming books in business and economic history:
Sarah S. Elkind, How Local Politics Shape Federal Policy: Business, Power, and the Environment in Twentieth-Century Los Angeles (University of North Carolina Press, August 2011)
Leon Fink, Sweatshops at Sea: Merchant Seamen in the World's First Globalized Industry, from 1812 to the Present (University of North Carolina Press, March 2011) 
Farley Grubb, German Immigration and Servitude in America, 1709-1920 (Routledge, June 2011)
Andrew P. Haley, Restaurants and the Rise of the American Middle Class, 1880-1920 (University of North Carolina Press, May 2011)
Jennifer Holt, Empires of Entertainment: Media Industries and the Politics of Deregulation, 1980-1996 (Rutgers University Press, July 2011)
Maury Klein, Union Pacific, vol. 3: The Reconfiguration: America's Greatest Railroad from 1969 to the Present (Oxford University Press, May 2011)
H. Jackson Knight, Confederate Invention: The Story of the Confederate States Patent Office and Its Inventors (Louisiana State University Press, June 2011)
Marc Levinson, The Great A&P and the Struggle for Small Business in America (Hill and Wang, August 2011, forthcoming)
Vanessa H. May, Unprotected Labor: Household Workers, Politics, and Middle-Class Reform in New York, 1870-1940 (University of North Carolina Press, June 2011)
Elsie B. Michie, The Vulgar Question of Money: Heiresses, Materialism, and the Novel of Manners from Jane Austen to Henry James (Johns Hopkins University Press, July 2011)
Laure Quennouelle-Corre and Youssef Cassis, eds., Financial Centres and International Capital Flows in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries (Oxford University Press, August 2011, forthcoming)
Earl Swift, The Big Roads: The Untold Story of the Engineers, Visionaries, and Trailblazers Who Created the American Superhighways (Houghton Mifflin, June 2011)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

“Before Madison Avenue” Program Now Available

The American Antiquarian Society (AAS) is holding a conference with the theme "Before Madison Avenue: Advertising in Early America," which will meet in Worcester, Massachusetts, on November 4-5, 2011. The conference is sponsored by the Center for Historic American Visual Culture and the Program in the History of the Book in American Culture at the AAS. The preliminary program has now been posted on the AAS website. Session titles include "Marketing Books and Print Culture"; "Creating Consumers"; "Marketing Authority and Celebrity"; "Advertising the Natural World"; and "Words and Images." The keynote address will be given by Wendy Woloson, who will speak on "Early American Persuasion and the Emergence of Modern Consumer Culture." She is the author, most recently, of In Hock: Pawning in America from Independence through the Great Depression (University of Chicago Press, 2009).
   Registration information will be posted on the AAS site in early September.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Hartman Center Unveils ROAD 2.0

The John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising, and Marketing History at Duke University has just announced the launch of ROAD 2.0: Resource of Outdoor Advertising Descriptions. As the introductory material explains, the project
originated as a metadata-only database in 2003, funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Later, using a grant from the National Historic Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), Duke University Libraries digitized many of the images described in the original database. The digitized version of the collection currently comprises approximately 27,000 images selected from four archival collections: the Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA) Archives, the OAAA Slide Library, and the papers of prominent outdoor advertising figures John Paver and John Brennan.
   The new website provides access to over 20,000 photographs and slides of billboards and other outdoor-related images. Users can search the collection by brand or placement company, as well as by date. The Center plans to add images from the R.C. Maxwell Company Records to the ROAD installation during the summer of 2011.
   See the Hartman Center home page for up-to-date information about new exhibits, finding aids, and other materials.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Reminder: BHC Paper Proposals Due October 1

Before the new academic year overtakes most readers, it seems a good moment to remind everyone that the deadline for paper and session proposals for the 2012 Business History Conference meeting, which will be held in Philadelphia, Pa., on March 29-31, is October 1, 2011. The theme of the meeting is "Business and the State," as outlined in the call for papers:
We are interested in substantive research on all aspects of business and the state. Potential topics include, but are not limited to: the regulation of business, state promotion of business and economic development, standards setting, government rules regarding the organization of businesses, and the interactions among businesses and consumers, citizens, and other businesses. We are interested in research on state-owned enterprises, mixed public-private entities, and nationalization and privatization. We are interested in legal history relevant to business, such as bankruptcy, corporate, labor, and patent law. We encourage submissions of research on the development of capacity within the state itself, including studies of particular agencies (or quasi-governmental organizations) and state projects. In keeping with longstanding BHC policy, the committee will also entertain submissions not directly related to the conference theme.
Please see the full call for papers for additional information.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

CFP: Special Issue of Business History on Strategy

The journal Business History has issued a call for papers for a projected special issue on "The Age of Strategy: Exploring the Cultural, Organizational, and Political Dimensions of Strategy," with Chris Carter serving as guest editor. Carter explains in the call for papers:
The objective of this special issue is to introduce interdisciplinary perspectives to help understand strategy both historically but also in the present as an important cultural, organizational and political phenomenon. The premise of this Special Issue is that it is important to transcend economic analyses of strategy and explore the rich potential of concepts from critical accounting, business history, and social theory to further knowledge on strategy and introduce innovative concepts to the study of strategy in the field of business history. The Special Issue is keen to explore important, yet currently underdeveloped linkages, between the three conceptual areas to help gain a deeper empirical and theoretical understanding of strategy. These areas provide enormous scope for developing our understanding of strategy and creating an interdisciplinary perspective on strategy, which is sociologically informed, critical oriented and imbued with an historical sensibility. It is this ambition that is the prime motivation for this Special Issue.
The deadline for submissions is November 1, 2011. Papers should be sent to Chris Carter at; the target date for publication of the issue is late 2012. Please see the full call for papers for additional information.

Monday, August 1, 2011

CFP: GHI “Models of Mobility” Workshop

"Models of Mobility: Systemic Differences, Path Dependencies, Economic, Social, and Environmental Impact (1900 to Tomorrow)" will convene at York University, Toronto, on March 23-24, 2012. The workshop is organized jointly by the German Historical Institute (GHI), Washington, D.C., the Canadian Centre for German and European Studies (CCGES), and the Schulich School of Business, York University. Conveners are Matthias Kipping (Schulich), Christina Kraenzle (CCGES), and Christina Lubinski (GHI). The organizers explain in their call for papers:
There are continuing debates about the best ways to transport people and goods both over short and long distances in a world marked by population growth, increased urbanization, and—after a brief crisis-induced hiatus—growing trade flows. These concern both the developed economies, which struggle to modernize and integrate their aging infrastructures and reduce the environmental, social, and economic cost of mobility, and the emerging economies that often have to build new transportation systems from scratch trying to accommodate rapid growth and changing user preferences. . . . this workshop tries to put these debates into a broader historical and comparative context by looking at the way different models of mobility emerged and developed in Europe and North America since 1900. . . . The workshop intends to look in particular at how various actors, namely industry, users, and policy-makers, shaped systems that differed along a number of dimensions, including, for example, public vs. private ownership and operation and individual vs. communal forms of transportation. It also wants to examine the extent to which these initial models might have created path dependencies in terms of technology, physical infrastructure, and cultural preferences that limited subsequent choices and, last but not least, to assess the economic, social and environmental impact these different models of mobility had then and continue to have now.
   Please see the full call for papers on the GHI site. Those interested in presenting a paper at this workshop should send a 1,000-word abstract and a one-page CV via email to Bärbel Thomas <> by September 30, 2011.