Wednesday, November 30, 2011

“Before Madison Avenue”—A Second Conference

 Earlier this month, the American Antiquarian Society (AAS) held a conference with the title, "Before Madison Avenue: Advertising in Early America." Now the Library Company of Philadelphia, in conjunction with the LCP's Visual Culture Program and the AAS's Center for Historic Visual Culture (CHAViC), has announced a similar meeting, also called "Before Madison Avenue: Advertising in Early America," to be held March 15-16, 2012. The conference program is now available. As the organizers explain:
From newspaper agate print to trade cards to broadsides to posters, ads were everywhere in early America, helping to support the rise of entire sectors of the publishing industry and introducing Americans to the ever-expanding world of goods and services that the growing nation offered. But what were the aesthetics, conventions, norms, and business practices of advertising in early America? How did individuals and businesses make sense of the constantly changing media that were available to them, and how did early American consumers respond to printed, spoken, or illustrated inducements to buy? How did what is now both an established business practice and an omnipresent cultural form take shape? Speakers at this conference will present new research on advertising in North America before the rise of the modern advertising agency (late 1870s).
Those interested in attending should visit the conference website for additional information and an on-line registration form.

Monday, November 28, 2011

CFP: Capitalism by Gaslight

The Library Company of Philadelphia will host a conference on June 7-8, 2012, to investigate the topic “Capitalism by Gaslight: The Shadow Economies of Nineteenth-Century America.” As the call for papers explains:
    There were many ways in which Americans earned a living through economic transactions beyond the spheres of “legitimate” commerce. Entrepreneurs of this sort included everyone from prostitutes and card sharps to confidence men, mock auctioneers, pickpockets, fences of stolen goods, and many others. Although these shadow economies may have unfolded “off the books,” they were anything but marginal. Instead, they were crucially important parts of the mainstream economy, bound up in the development of commercial and industrial capitalism in nineteenth-century America. The shadow economy’s successful entrepreneurs—women, people of color, and children among them—had to be even more creative, flexible, and adaptive than “respectable” counterparts. The practices, networks, and goods that constituted shadow economies often paralleled and in some instances overlapped with those found in wholesale and retail businesses, calling into question the morality and legitimacy of legal economic transactions.
   The conveners seek paper proposals that explore how shadow economies operated in the nineteenth-century United States and examine the meanings Americans gave to them. To ensure consideration, please send a 2-3- page abstract and CV to both Wendy Woloson at and Brian Luskey at no later than January 15, 2012. A website for the conference is not yet available.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Columbia University Business History Forum This Tuesday

Readers in or near New York City will be interested in the Columbia University Business History Forum's November 29 meeting, which will be a symposium on Capitalism Takes Command: The Social Transformation of Nineteenth-Century America (Chicago, 2011 [but out in January 2012]), edited by Michael Zakim and Gary J. Kornblith.
   The symposium will meet from 6:30 to 8:00 pm, in Room 523, Butler Library, Columbia University, and will be followed by a reception. The meeting, which is open to the public, is sponsored by the Columbia Rare Book and Manuscript Library; the Herbert H. Lehman Center for American  History; and the History Department at the New School for Social Research and Eugene Lang College.
   Capitalism Takes Command presents original histories of the commercialization of farming, the creation of a national mortgage market, the collateralization of slaves, the invention of office systems, and more—an inventory of means by which capitalism became America's new revolutionary tradition. This collection of essays argues that capitalism's effects reached far beyond the purview of the economy. As business ceaselessly revised its own practices, a new demographic of private bankers, insurance brokers, investors in securities, and young clerks hoping to make partner, among many others, assumed center stage, displacing older elites and forms of property. Explaining how capital became an "ism" and how business became a social philosophy, Capitalism Takes Command brings the economy back into the mainstream of American history.
   In addition to essays by the speakers below, the book contains contributions from Amy Dru Stanley, Robert Wright, Tamara Plakins Thornton, Jeffrey Sklansky, and Sean Patrick Adams.
   The program consists of:
"Capitalism:  An American Revolutionary Tradition," Michael Zakim (Tel Aviv)

"Toxic Debt, Liar Loans, Collateralized and Securitized Human Beings, and the Panic of 1837," Edward Baptist (Cornell)

"Inheriting Property and Debt: From Family Security to Corporate Accumulation," Elizabeth Blackmar (Columbia)

"The Mortgage Worked the Hardest: The Fate of Landed Independence in Nineteenth-Century America," Jonathan Levy (Princeton)
For further information please email Eric Wakin; if you wish to attend please email

Friday, November 25, 2011

EHS 2012 Conference Program Now Available

The Economic History Society has posted the preliminary program for its 2012 meeting, which will be held at St. Catherine's College at the University of Oxford on March 30-April 1, 2012. In addition to two sessions (IV.F and V.B) specifically labelled "business history," the program contains many topics of interest to both business and economic historians. The 2012 Tawney Lecture will be delivered by Professor Sir Roderick Floud of Gresham College.
    Registration information and other details will be posted on the EHS conference site as they become available.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

CFP: Historicizing Routines Conference at Hagley

The Center for the History of Business, Technology, and Society at the Hagley Museum and Library in Wilmington, Delaware, and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania present will host a conference on “Historicizing Routines” on November 1-2, 2012. The organizers “invite empirical and historically focused papers that explore the development, devolution, destruction, and re-creation of routines in twentieth-century organizations and bounded communities.” Herewith the complete call for papers:
    Routines are central to much human behavior, both within organizations and more broadly, because they facilitate the navigation of complex social, economic, and ecological environments. Too often, however, they are simplistically equated with stasis and adaptation, and unfairly counter-posed to innovation or transformation. In reality, routines can be dynamic, as the organizations and individuals that follow them encounter and respond to new situations or conditions that disrupt established behaviors. Indeed, well-designed routines can anticipate novel complications and can help manage and channel change, thereby reinforcing or enhancing traditional and vernacular practices and relationships rather than undermining them. Historically, both those routines that fail in the face of challenge and environmental shifts, and those which reflexively embrace disruption and reordering are of especial interest. While the presence of routines is most obvious in business firms, governments, militaries, labor unions, and other bureaucracies, they also are embedded in emergency response structures, research protocols, religious organizations, and settled communities. Hence exploring routines, especially their development, devolution, and transformation, can generate new insights to our understanding of the past.
    Papers may be framed at any geographical scale (local, regional, national, transnational), but should detail what constitutes particular routines, how they came into being, how well adapted they may have been to environments and opportunities, how amenable they were to change, and what dynamics such changes actually provoked. We are especially interested in historical studies and ethnographies that explore how routines influence fluidity and stasis, how they organize and shape innovation, as well as how they interfere with or facilitate adaptation to new conditions. Failures often generate a search for new and more effective routines, another important process. Papers also may address the relationship between routines and “success”—for example, how routine practices by firms or bureaucracies impede or assist an organization achieve its objectives and/or do better than others.
    The deadline for receipt of paper proposals is March 31, 2012. Please send a 500-word description of your paper and the sources on which it is based along with a brief CV to Carol Lockman, Travel funding will be available for presenters.

Monday, November 21, 2011

CFP: Joint EBHA-BHSJ Meeting, 2012

The European Business History Association will hold its next meeting jointly with the Business History Society of Japan on August 30-September 1, 2012, at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) in Paris. The theme of the meeting is "Business Enterprises and the Tensions between Local and Global."
Over several centuries companies have pursued their business strategies on several dimensions, from the local to the global. This can be seen in the recruitment of personnel, their procurement, their financing, their R & D, their production or services, and their relations with consumers, social forces, intellectuals, public authorities, education and research systems. However, the process of adapting to these multiple dimensions is not straightforward, even for large and experienced multinationals, and often results in tensions between global and local. . . . comparisons between regions and countries, branches of industry, single enterprises, and, of course, over time, are encouraged.
   Proposals for papers and or sessions related to the theme of the conference are welcome, although paper and/or session proposals not directly related to it will also be considered. For paper proposals, please submit a title and abstract of no more than 400 words (one A4 page) along with a one-page CV to Session proposals should include a brief abstract of the session along with a one-page abstract and a one-page CV for each participant. The deadline for all proposals is January 15, 2012.
   Please see the full call for papers for additional information.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Lemelson Center Fellowship Applications Available

Deadlines are approaching for the Lemelson Center Fellowship Program and Travel to Collections Award Program, which support projects that present creative approaches to the study of invention and innovation in American society.
   The programs provide access to the expertise of the Institution's research staff and the vast invention and technology collections of the National Museum of American History (NMAH). The NMAH Archives Center documents both individuals and firms across a range of time periods and subject areas including railroads, musical instruments, television, radio, plastics, and sports equipment. Lemelson Center invites applications covering a broad spectrum of research topics that resonate with its mission to foster a greater understanding of invention and innovation, broadly defined. However, the Center especially encourages project proposals that will illuminate the role of women inventors; inventors with disabilities; inventors from diverse backgrounds; or any inventions and technologies associated with groups that are traditionally under-represented in the historical record.  For a comprehensive list of Archives Center collections, see the NMAH Archives website.   

   The Lemelson Center Fellowship Program annually awards 2 to 3 fellowships to pre-doctoral graduate students, post-doctoral scholars, and other professionals who have completed advanced training.  Fellows are expected to reside in the Washington, D.C. area, to participate in the Center's activities, and to make a presentation of their work to colleagues at the museum. Fellowship tenure is based upon the applicants’ stated needs (and available funding) up to a maximum of ten weeks. Stipends for 2012-2013 will be $575/week for pre-doctoral fellows and $870/week for post-doctoral and professional fellows. Applications are due January 15, 2012. For application procedures and additional information, please see the Lemelson Center Fellowship website. Researchers should consult with the fellowship coordinator prior to submitting a proposal; please contact historian Eric S. Hintz, Ph.D. at +1 202-633-3734 or   

   The Lemelson Center Travel to Collections Award Program annually awards 4 to 5 short-term travel grants to encourage the use of its invention-related collections. Awards are $150 per day for a maximum of 10 business days and may be used to cover transportation, living, and reproduction expenses. Only applicants who reside or attend school beyond commuting distance of the NMAH are eligible for this program. Applications are due November 30, 2011. For application procedures and additional information, please see the Center's Travel Grant website. Researchers should consult with the travel award coordinator prior to submitting a proposal; please contact archivist Alison Oswald at +1 202-633-3726 or

Thursday, November 17, 2011

BHC Doctoral Colloquium Deadline Approaches

The Oxford Journals Doctoral Colloquium in Business History offers a small group of graduate students an opportunity to work intensively on their dissertations with distinguished Business History Conference-affiliated scholars, including at least two BHC officers.
    The 2012 Doctoral Colloquium will be held in conjunction with the Business History Conference annual meeting in Philadelphia. This prestigious workshop, sponsored by the BHC and generously funded by Oxford University Press, will take place Wednesday evening, March 28, 2012, and all day Thursday, March 29, 2012. The Colloquium is limited to ten students. Participants will discuss dissertation proposals, relevant literatures and research strategies, and employment opportunities in business history. The Colloquium is intended for doctoral candidates in early and mid-stages of their dissertation projects.

To be considered for the Colloquium, applicants must provide:
a statement of interest
a CV
a preliminary or final dissertation prospectus of 10-15 pages
a letter of support sent directly from the dissertation supervisor (or prospective supervisor)
Submit the above items to Roger Horowitz, Secretary-Treasurer, Business History Conference, P. O. Box 3630, Wilmington, DE 19807, USA. Phone: (302) 658-2400; fax: (302) 655-3188; or via email at by December 1, 2011.

    All participants receive a stipend that will partially cover the costs of their attendance at the annual meeting. The Colloquium committee will notify applicants of its decisions by January 10, 2012. Questions about the Doctoral Colloquium may be directed to:
Pamela W. Laird, Ph.D.
BHC Doctoral Colloquium Director
Professor, History Department
University of Colorado Denver
Denver, CO  80217-3364  USA
Phone (303) 556-4497 Email:
   For more information about the 2012 Business History Conference annual meeting, please visit the meeting homepage.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

SEC Historical Society Examines Feature Films and Perceptions of Financial Regulation

The Securities and Exchange Commission Historical Society has posted a videocast of its recent program, "Silver Screen: How Films Shape Public Perception of Financial Regulation." Moderated by David Lipton of the Columbus School of Law at Catholic University of America, the program features a discussion of the topic by J. Bradley Bennett of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and John Reed Stark of Stroz Friedberg LLC (and formerly chief of the SEC's Office of Internet Enforcement). Particularly useful is the accompanying paper by Loren E. Miller, a Ph.D. candidate in history at American University; after a short introduction, she provides a 35-page listing of relevant movies from "The Good-for-Nothing" in 1914 to "Too Big to Fail" in 2011, with "Image of the Markets, Nature of the Misdeeds, and Role of Regulation in Film" for each entry.

Monday, November 14, 2011

December Enterprise & Society Now Available

The December 2011 issue of Enterprise & Society is now available on the Oxford University Press website. Full text access requires a subscription (included in BHC membership), but the abstracts or extracts are accessible by all.
  Contents include papers from the Krooss Dissertation Session at the 2011 BHC meeting as well as the following articles:
Sean Patrick Adams, "How Choice Fueled Panic: Philadelphians, Consumption, and the Panic of 1837"
Christopher Jones, "The Carbon-Consuming Home: Residential Markets and Energy Transitions"
Neveen Abdelrehim, Josephine Maltby, and Steven Toms, "Corporate Social Responsibility and Corporate Control: The Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, 1933–1951"
Stuart W. Leslie, "The Strategy of Structure: Architectural and Managerial Style at Alcoa and Owens-Corning"
The 2011 Presidential Address, normally included in this issue, will appear in the March 2012 number.

Friday, November 11, 2011

CFP: “Globalization of African American Business and Consumer Culture”

The German Historical Institute (GHI) in Washington, D.C., has issued a call for papers for a workshop to be held on February 24-25, 2012, on the topic “Globalization of African American Business and Consumer Culture.” Potential topics include, but are not limited to
The marketing and selling of African-American culture (e.g. music, film, literature) around the globe
African-American consumers and the global economy (e.g. import products)
African-American businesses and businesspeople around the world
Non-American cultural products (e.g. music, film, literature) and African-American consumers
African-American international tourists and international tourists visiting African-American sites
African-American consumers and immigrant businesses
The international trade in the black freedom struggle's legacy (e.g. The Black Power Mixtape)
   Please see the full call for papers for a complete description.
   Proposals should include a paper title, a one-page abstract, and a CV, and should be sent via email to Joshua Clark Davis no later than December 2, 2011. Expenses for travel (economy class) and accommodations will be covered, although participants are encouraged to defray travel costs with funds from their home institution when possible.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Business History Blog at Bloomberg View

Stephen Mihm of the University of Georgia has revamped the Echoes blog at to focus on historical parallels to modern events in business and economics. As he explains:
History doesn’t repeat itself. Sometimes, though, it rhymes. That idea animates our revamped "Echoes" blog, dedicated to the history of economics, business, finance and, above all, capitalism. Our contributors will aim to unearth parallels between past and present, highlighting how the economic crises of our own era are perhaps not as unique as we think. . . . Many of history's best economic stories can’t be reduced to numbers and charts. They're dramatic tales of hubris, innovation, brilliance and luck—of people caught in the grips of forces that they don't fully comprehend. We'll be trying to tell those stories here.
   Commentary will be offered by business and economic historians, including co-contributors Philip Scranton of Rutgers University and John B. Taylor of Stanford. The first post under the revamped blog considers "How Populist Outrage Gave Birth to the Federal Reserve."

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

NYC Market Cultures Group Upcoming Meetings

The Market Cultures Group of New York City [no website] invites you to attend "Pioneering Economic Forecasters and Their Legacies," a presentation by Walter Friedman (research fellow, Harvard Business School, and editor, Business History Review), in conversation with Anders Maxwell (managing director, Peter J. Solomon Company). The event will take place on Thursday, November 10, 6:00-7:30 p.m., at 80 Fifth Avenue, Room 529, The New School (New York City). For a copy of the paper, please contact Walter Friedman.
   Next month the Market Cultures Group will host "The Legacy and Lessons of the Air Controllers' Strike," by Joseph McCartin (associate professor of history and director of the Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor at Georgetown University and the author of the upcoming Collision Course: Ronald Reagan, The Air Traffic Controllers, and the Strike that Changed America), in conversation with Ruth Milkman (professor of sociology, CUNY Graduate Center and academic director, Murphy Labor Institute, CUNY). The talk will take place on Thursday, December 1, at 6:00 pm, Room 1009, 16 E. 16th Street, The New School.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Conference Program: History of Consumer Culture

The History of Consumer Culture research group in Japan will be holding its next conference at Gakushuin University, Tokyo, on March 26-28, 2012. The meeting's theme is "Genealogies of Curiosity and Material Desire: How Has Consumer Taste Been Constructed?" The program, which includes links to abstracts of the papers, has now been posted. In addition to regular sessions, keynote addresses will be given by Toshio Kusamitsu, Professor in Humanities and Culture, Open University of Japan; John Styles, Research Professor in History, University of Hertfordshire; Avner Ofner, Chichele Professor of Economics History, All Souls College, Oxford; and John Brewer, Eli and Edye Broad Professor of Humanities and Social Sciences, California Institute of Technology.
    Additional conference details, including lodging and registration information, are available on the conference website.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Program and Publications: Latin American Business History

The Grupo Cuatrinacional de Estudios Empresariales e Historia Económica and the Coloquio de Historia de Empresas will hold a joint business history symposium on November 10-11, 2011, at the Universidad de San Andrés in Buenos Aires. The program has now been posted. Sessions are organized around three themes: "Economic Fluctuations and Business Strategies in the Twentieth Century," "The Internationalization of Business," and "Agroindustries and Business." More information and registration materials are available on the conference website. Questions may be addressed to Andrea Lluch.
     As part of the "Internationalization of Business" topic, there will be a presentation of the book El impacto histórico de la globalización en Argentina y Chile: empresas y empresarios, edited by Geoffrey Jones and Andrea Lluch (Buenos Aires, Temas, 2011). The book represents an early product of the "Latin American Business Initiative" of the Harvard Business School, which aims to "facilitat[e] research on Latin American business history, especially the Southern Cone countries."
    The Grupo Cuatrinacional de Estudios Empresariales e Historia Económica was founded in 2006 by researchers in Mexico, Spain, Argentina, and Colombia, in order to produce new and comparative knowledge in entrepreneurial studies and economic history. The Coloquio de Historia de Empresas at the Universidad de San Andrés has been meeting since 2002 to promote the comparative study of business history.
    Readers may also be interested in the History, Business, and Entrepreneurship Newsletter, published twice annually by the Historia y Empresariado group at the Universidad de los Andes in Bogotà, Colombia. The March and September 2011 newsletters are available (in both English and Spanish). The second contains, among other items, an essay by Marcelo Bucheli and Daniel Wadhwani on "Toward a Reintegration of History in Organization Studies," and summaries of the contents of the special issue of Entreprises et Histoire on Latin America (April 2009).

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Digital Project: Railroads and the Making of Modern America

"Railroads and the Making of Modern America" is a digital history site at the University of Nebraska Lincoln, led by William G. Thomas III of Nebraska and Richard Healey, a geographer at the University of Portsmouth, UK, who focuses on historical GIS. The site's introduction explains:
This project seeks to document and represent the rapid and far-reaching social effects of railroads and to explore the transformation of the United States to modern ideas, institutions, and practices in the nineteenth century. The railroad was the first and most complex national system in American history. The records of this system's colossal growth are as diverse as they are voluminous, ranging from massive and detailed corporate records to editorials, cartoons, poetry, songs, and even abandoned track lines in today's landscape. While many histories have addressed the railroad's importance, we need a new approach that takes account of how the railroad triggered unexpected outcomes in American society and how the system became wedded into the fabric of modern America. Railroads and the Making of Modern America seeks to use the digital medium to investigate, represent, and analyze this social change and document episodes of the railroad's social consequence.
The project includes a number of topics and ways of looking at railroad history. Among the several topics examined so far are "Slavery and Southern Railroads," "The 1877 Railroad Strike," and "Tourism and Mobility." Another section is "Views," which "contains information pulled from documents, databases, and historical sources and each seeks to demonstrate the social effects of the development of the railroad network over time." Topics here include "Technology and the Expansion of the U.S. South," "Land Sales in Nebraska," and "Travel Time: How Railroads Shaped Time and Space." The site also contains student projects, datasets, and links to other on-line railroad history sources.
    Thomas, former director of the Virginia Center for Digital History, previously worked on The Valley of the Shadow project and on The Countryside Transformed: The Railroad and the Eastern Shore of Virginia, 1870-1935.