Monday, January 30, 2012

“Political Arithmetick” Program Now Available

“The 'Political Arithmetick' of Empires in the Early Modern Atlantic World, 1500–1807” will take place at the University of Maryland, College Park, on March 16-18, 2012. The program has now been posted and is available from the conference website. Several papers will be of interest to economic historians of the early modern period. As the organizers explain:
This conference focuses on the new concept of “political economy” and the debates surrounding imperial construction in the Americas during the sixteenth through the eighteenth centuries. Its title, taken from the pamphlet by Sir William Petty published in 1690, indexes western European engagement with formulating the ideological and practical components of empires at the end of the seventeenth century. Petty and his cohort interrogated the means, sometimes by comparative analysis, to make trade, peoples, and nations flourish; they probed schemes and intentions for their effects on commercial development and populations.
   Information about lodging, registration, and other details can be found on the conference website. The conference is co-sponsored by the Department of History, University of Maryland, College Park,
and the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Hartman Center Travel Grant Applications Due Soon

A reminder that travel grants up to $750 are available for research using the Duke University Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History’s collections. Up to three J. Walter Thompson Research Fellowships are also awarded. Fellows receive $1,000 stipends for a minimum of two weeks research at the Hartman Center focusing on the J. Walter Thompson Archives. Applications are due January 31, 2012. Awards will be announced around March 15, 2012. For more information, please contact Lynn Eaton (; the application form and extensive information can be found on the library's grants page.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Capitalism and Democracy at the OAH: Program Now Available

Given the theme of this year's Organization of American Historians meeting, "Frontiers of Capitalism and Democracy," it is not surprising that many topics of interest to the business history community will be represented there. The OAH is meeting, jointly with the National Council on Public History, on April 18-22, 2012, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The program, available as a PDF, does not contain links to individual sessions, nor are sessions numbered, but page 38 does contain a listing of sessions related to capitalism, 31 of them. In addition, many other sessions focus on government, immigration, and labor in ways that include business and economic history. The many sessions of interest include "The Business of Slavery," chaired by Gavin Wright; "Multinational Corporations and International Politics," chaired by Marcelo Bucheli; "Banking Before and After the Panic of 1893," chaired by Robert Wright; "What's Good for America: New Perspectives on Business and the State," chaired by Paula Baker; "Making Use of Nature: How Resources Became Commodities in America during the Nineteenth Century," chaired by Shane Hamilton.
   In addition, the Business History Conference has joined with several other organizations to co-sponsor the OAH Committee on Women Luncheon, where the speaker will be Patricia J. Gorence, U.S. Magistrate Judge, Eastern District of Wisconsin.
    Please see the OAH Meeting pages for information about registration, travel, and lodging.

Monday, January 23, 2012

CFP: State Resources and State Building in Europe

Université Paris-I Panthéon Sorbonne will host an interdisciplinary conference on "State Resources and State Building in Europe: Taxation and Debt, 13th-18th Century" in Paris on July 2-3, 2012. Paper presenters are invited to address three major issues in comparative perspective: 1) Tax vs. loan or tax and loan? 2) Political regimes and public funding; 3) Primary and secondary markets for public debt securities. Submissions and questions should be addressed to; the deadline is March 15, 2012.
   Potential presenters should read the conference's full call for papers.

Friday, January 20, 2012

New Books in Business and Economic History: Winter Edition

A partial listing of new and forthcoming books in business and economic history:
Hartmut Berghoff and Uwe Spiekermann, eds., Decoding Modern Consumer Societies (Palgrave Macmillan, December 2011)
Stanley L. Engerman and Kenneth L. Sokoloff,  Economic Development in the Americas since 1500: Endowments and Institutions (Cambridge University Press, November 2011)
Louis Galambos, The Creative Society—And the Price Americans Paid For It (Cambridge University Press, January 2012)
Harold James, Krupp: A History of Legendary German Firm (Princeton University Press, forthcoming, March 2012)
William Lazonick and David Teece, eds., Management Innovation: Essays in the Spirit of Alfred D. Chandler, Jr. (Oxford University Press, forthcoming, February 2012)
Larry Neal, "I Am Not the Master of Events": The Speculations of John Law and Lord Londonderry in the Mississippi and South Sea Bubbles (Yale University Press, December 2011)
Kim Phillips-Fein and Julian E. Zelizer, eds., What's Good for Business: Business and American Politics since World War II (Oxford University Press, forthcoming March 2012)
J. Andrew Ross and Andrew D. Smith, eds., Canada's Entrepreneurs: From the Fur Trade to the 1929 Crash (University of Toronto Press, November 2011)
Pål Thonstad Sandvik, Multinationals, Subsidiaries and National Business Systems: The Nickel Industry and Falconbridge Nikkelverk (Pickering and Chatto, forthcoming, February 2012)
Michael Zakim and Gary J. Kornblith, eds., Capitalism Takes Command: The Social Transformation of Nineteenth-Century America (University of Chicago Press, January 2012)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Digital Technology Allows Researchers to Hear Early Sound Recordings

Researchers announced last month that they had been able to reconstruct some of the earliest sound recordings made by Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, and Emile Berliner, many of which are housed at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. Accounts of the details of the sound recovery project can be found on the Smithsonian blog, at its Newsdesk, which also provide sound files of some of the decoded recordings, and at the Lemelson Center website. Curator Carlene Stephens of the NMAH expects that the museum's collection of about 400 of the earliest audio recordings are likely to become a key resource for new research on communications and early technology. "These materials have been in a cupboard and virtually unknown for decades," she said. "The collection has been silent." Six files have been recovered so far, and the project is ongoing.
   News coverage includes an extensive article in the Daily Mail; an NPR story, a slide show at the Washington Post website, and a Library of Congress press release. Readers can find the audio files and more technical detail at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, whose scientists worked with the SI and the Library of Congress to recover the sound from the early recordings. The audio files, which are very short, are also available on YouTube.
   For those interested in exploring the history of sound recording, the Library of Congress's American Memory project offers a good starting point:
Emile Berliner and the Birth of the Recording Industry
Inventing Entertainment: The Motion Pictures and Sound Recordings of the Edison Companies

Monday, January 16, 2012

CFP: Government Debt Crises—Politics, Economics, and History

The Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva, in cooperation with the Pierre du Bois Foundation, has issued a call for papers for a trans-disciplinary conference on "Government Debt Crises: Politics, Economics, and History," to be held at the Institute on December 15, 2012. The convenor is Marc Flandreau. The call for papers states, in part:
The recent European debt crisis, which coincides with the 30th anniversary of the Latin American debt crisis, has again raised important issues which have been part of the international policy debate over at least the past century. . . . An important take of this conference is that, while Europe has developed its own brand of problems, its experience is not unique. There are many relevant parallels between this experience and that of previous government debt crises. . . . Our goal is to bring together leading scholars from economics, international political economy, economic history, political science, and finance to provide a trans-disciplinary perspective on the European debt crisis. The conference will also include a panel with senior policymakers who will offer reflections on the crisis.
Proposals are invited for papers that examine comparisons, connections, and entanglements between government debt crises situated in, or spanning, different regions of the world. No time or geographical boundaries pertain, although the unifying theme of the conference is the current European debt crisis. Inquiries and proposals should be sent to Trevin Stratton (, the conference assistant at the Graduate Institute. In addition to the name, affiliation, e-mail and snail-mail addresses of the applicant, proposals should include a title and a paper abstract of 100-300 words. The deadline for proposals is January 31, 2012. Please consult the full call for papers for additional information.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Reminder: Fellowships at the German Historical Institute

A reminder that the German Historical Institute in Washington, D.C., offers a number of fellowships of interest to business and economic historians. These include
Doctoral Fellowship in International Business History
Fellowship in the History of Consumption
Fellowship in Economic and Social History
The application deadline for all of these grants is February 15, 2012.  Full information about the grants' application procedures, terms, and conditions can be found by following the links above. Questions may be addressed to Uwe Speikermann; additional details about German Historical Institute programs can be found on the GHI website.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Capitalism Roundtable in Historically Speaking

The November 2011 issue of Historically Speaking features a Roundtable on "The Early Modern Origins of Capitalism." Contents include
Joyce Appleby, "The Cultural Roots of Capitalism"
Hans L. Eicholz, "What's Left for Economics? A Comment on Appleby"
Hendrik Hartog, "Comment on Appleby"
Joyce Appleby, "Response"
Full access to Historically Speaking requires a subscription, but short summaries of each essay are freely available.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Next M6 Business History Group Workshop Announced

The next workshop of the M6 Business History Group will meet on January 26, 2012, at Coventry University.  The theme will be "BusinessFirms’ Responses to Globalisation in Different Periods of History."
   The title of the workshop indicates that a focus on how firms have either responded to globalisation or helped to make globalisation possible. Established scholars, post-doctoral researchers, and graduate students are all welcome to attend. A small sum of money has been set aside to assist post-graduate students with travel costs. Those interested in attending should contact Andrew Smith at by January 19, 2012. The workshop is free and open to all, but notification of attendance is required for planning reasons.
   The M6 Business History Group is an informal network of business historians who live and work near the M6 Motorway in the UK.

Friday, January 6, 2012

BHC 2012 Meeting Preliminary Program Now Available

The preliminary program for the 2012 BHC annual meeting has now been posted on the website. The meeting will be held at the Hyatt Regency Penn's Landing in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on March 29-31. Note that the hotel reservation site, which must be accessed via the contact information at the "Hotel" link on our meeting page, is also in operation. Secretary-Treasurer Roger Horowitz will be sending out a detailed mailing to members and program participants later in January that will provide information about fees and on-line registration, and we will of course update the website as more information becomes available.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

"Merchants as Collectors" Conference Program Available

The Society for Renaissance Studies, the Ashmolean Museum, and the Modern European History Research Centre at the University of Oxford are sponsoring a conference, "Early Modern Merchants as Collectors," which will meet at the Ashmolean on June 15-16, 2012. As the organizers explain, "This interdisciplinary conference will explore early modern merchants as collectors across a wide range of geographical regions and collecting categories, investigating whether there are any patterns connecting these merchant-collectors of the early modern period and what theoretical frameworks can be applied to them." A full list of speakers, topics, and abstracts is now available on the conference website. Please also check there for information about lodging, registration, and other details.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Economic History Offerings among Gilder Lehrman Summer Seminars for Teachers

The Gilder Lehrman Institute each year offers a series of Summer Seminars for Teachers, week-long sessions taught by distinguished faculty. Full-time K-12 teachers, as well as National Park Service (NPS) interpreters and museum educators are eligible to apply. Community College faculty are eligible to attend high-school-level seminars. Recent graduates of education and history programs at the undergraduate and graduate level who plan to pursue careers in history education K-12 are eligible to apply for seminars as New Teacher Fellows upon completion of an education degree in either fall 2011 or spring 2012.
   Among those of particular interest are: "The Gilded Age and Its Modern Parallels," directed by Richard White at Stanford University, "The Great Depression and World War II," directed by David Kennedy at Stanford University, and "Economic and Financial Crises in American History," directed by Richard Sylla at New York University.
  A full list of the 2012 seminars and faculty is available on the Seminar website. The application deadline is February 15, 2012. For more information, see the Gilder Lehrman Summer Seminars FAQ or contact them at