Monday, April 30, 2012

BHC Posts New Resource for Syllabi in Business and Economic History

The revised and expanded web page for syllabi and reading lists in business and economic history (mentioned here a few weeks ago) has now been uploaded on the BHC site. Our call for syllabi did not result in many responses (though we heartily thank those who did send in materials); however, quite a large number of syllabi are available on the Web and indexed by search engines. We therefore collated and organized the results of numerous searches to produce the new BHC site. We are of course eager to expand the listings, and we encourage those of you who have not yet sent in materials to do so.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Hagley Holds Symposium on Business History

On Friday, May 18, 2012, the Hagley Library and Museum will hold a symposium featuring Daniel Raff of the Wharton School and NBER. Raff will deliver a talk entitled "How To Do Things with Time:  Reflections on Method and Practice in Business History." The symposium moderator will be Sidney Winter, of the Wharton School; commentary will be provided by Steven Usselman, Georgia Institute of Technology; Andrew Popp, University of Liverpool; and Christine Rose, University of California, Berkeley.
    The symposium will be held in the Copeland Room at Hagley from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. For a copy of the paper if you are planning to attend, please contact Carol Lockman,

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Richard Sylla Named to AAAS

Richard Sylla, Henry Kaufman Professor of the History of Financial Institutions and Markets at the Stern School of Business, NYU, and former president of the Business History Conference, has been named a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Sylla joins such luminaries as Hillary Rodham Clinton, Clint Eastwood, and Jeff Bezos, as well as historians David Blight and Lizabeth Cohen, in the class of 2012 fellows.
   The Academy "is an independent policy research center that conducts multidisciplinary studies of complex and emerging problems." In the words of the Academy's charter, enacted in 1780, the "end and design of the institution is . . . to cultivate every art and science which may tend to advance the interest, honour, dignity, and happiness of a free, independent, and virtuous people."

Monday, April 23, 2012

Business History/Historians at OAH 2012

Readers might wish to take a look at the printed program for the 2012 Organization of American Historians meeting, just concluded. Given that the theme of the meeting (held jointly with the National Council on Public History) was "Frontiers of Capitalism and Democracy," it is not surprising that a large number of business historians were on the program. One can see a list of most of them on page 38 of the program pdf. In addition, Richard R. John, past-president of the BHC, was one of those scholars who made a paper available for pre-circulation. John's session was "Antimonopoly: The Anatomy of an American Obsession," with a paper of the same name. The panel was chaired by James L. Baughman, University of Wisconsin–Madison, and Naomi Lamoreaux, Yale University, and Jeffrey Sklansky, University of Illinois at Chicago, served as commentators. The paper can be found here.

Friday, April 20, 2012

NEP-HIS Blog on "Linking History and Management Discourse"

The NEP-HIS blog, edited by Bernardo Bátiz-Lazo, professor of business history and bank management at Bangor Business School (Wales), selects papers recently abstracted in NEP-HIS (Report on Business, Economic and Financial History papers posted on RePEc) as a springboard for debate on topics of current interest. Bátiz-Lazo has published an interesting post on "Linking History and Management Discourse." He explores two recent papers, "Seizing the Opportunity: Towards a Historiography of Information Systems," by Nathalie Mitev and François-Xavier de Vaujany (, and "The Silence of the Archive: Post-Colonialism and the Practice of Historical Reconstruction from Archival Evidence," by Stephanie Decker ( Short reviews of these papers provide the basis for a discussion of business historians' interaction (or lack thereof) with management researchers. The post also includes links to and discussion of other relevant materials.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

NPR Airs Series on Silicon Valley

Laura Sydell on National Public Radio's "Morning Edition" presented a three-part series on the history of Silicon Valley during the week of April 2. The three programs can be found on-line, with text, images, and both audio and written transcripts of the broadcasts:

"A Rare Mix Created Silicon's Valley's Start-Up Culture"
"America's Magnet for Innovation, and Investments"
"Intel Legends Moore and Grove: Making It Last"
   The site also includes an illustrated "Timeline." Leslie Berlin, author of The Man Behind the Microchip: Robert Noyce and the Invention of Silicon Valley and Project Archivist at Stanford's Silicon Valley Archives, is quoted several times throughout the programs.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Hagley Digitizes Nation's Business

The Nation’s Business was the monthly magazine of the Chamber of Commerce of the United States from 1912 to 1999. The Digital Collections Department at Hagley has been working on a large-scale digitization project that will make the entire run of the Nation’s Business available online and full-text searchable. As the Hagley newsletter reports,

Every major event that shaped American politics and business, from World War I to the early days of the internet age, is documented in the pages of The Nation’s Business. Many issues of pressing concern to the business community today, such as state-business relations, have roots in earlier periods and can be studied as they evolved during the 20th century. While politics is a common theme throughout The Nation’s Business, articles also cover the evolution of workplace technology, the development of new methods for marketing products and services to consumers, and the emergence of influential labor unions during the last century.
The project was funded with the support of the Chamber of Commerce as part of its 100th anniversary celebration. Ten years of issues remain to be scanned, but content from the remaining ninety years is now fully available at Hagley's Nation's Business site. Hagley has also mounted a companion Web exhibit, "100 Years of Picturing the Nation's Business."

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Business History and the Titanic/White Star Line

On the 100th anniversary of the Titanic's sinking, a few links to sites offering information from a business history perspective:
Turnip Rail discusses the relationship between the ship and the London and South Western Railway
History of the White Star Line
White Star Line and Cunard
White Star Line Timetables
Echoes blog on the Titanic and the modern radio industry 
Pirrie and Ismay Partnership
Harland and Wolff and the Titanic (current company website here)
Passenger Lists for Titanic Sailing; some examples from First Class:
  John Jacob Astor
Recovered body listing for Astor:
CLOTHING - Blue serge suit; blue handkerchief with "A. V."; belt with gold buckle; brown boots with red rubber soles; brown flannel shirt; "J. J. A." on back of collar.
EFFECTS - Gold watch; cuff links; gold with diamond; diamond ring with three stones; £225 in English notes; $2440 in notes; £5 in gold; 7s. in silver; 5 ten franc pieces; gold pencil; pocketbook.
  Benjamin Guggenheim
  Charles Melville Hays
  Isidor Straus
  John B. Thayer
  George Widener

  The Encyclopedia Titanica has a wealth of information, including contemporary newspaper accounts and biographical information on those passengers about whom records could be found. The National Archives (UK) has a large on-line Titanic exhibit with many historical documents and records; a smaller but equally interesting site has been produced by the National Museums of Northern Ireland.

Friday, April 13, 2012

EHA 2012 Meeting Program Now Available

The preliminary program for the 2012 meeting of the Economic History Association, which will be held September 21-23 in Vancouver, B.C., has now been posted. The conference theme is "Revisiting the Transportation Revolution."
   The registration system for the meeting will open at the end of May. Note that applications to present at poster sessions are still open (deadline, May 16), as are submissions for the Nevins and Gerschenkron dissertation prizes (deadline, May 15). See the "Graduate Student" section of the meeting website for complete application details.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

BHC Announces 2012 Prize Recipients

At the Business History Conference annual meeting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, March 29-31, 2012, recipients of the following BHC prizes and grants were announced:
Harold F. Williamson Prize.The award is bestowed every two years to a mid-career scholar who has made significant contributions to the field of business history. The prize memorializes the contributions to business history of the late Harold F. Williamson.
2012 recipient: Mary O’Sullivan, University of Geneva
Hagley Prize. The prize is awarded jointly by the Hagley Museum and Library and the Business History Conference to the best book in business history (broadly defined) written in English and published during the two years prior to the award.
2012 Recipient: Sharon Ann Murphy, Providence College, Investing in Life: Insurance in Antebellum America (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011).
Ralph Gomory Prize. This prize, made possible by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, recognizes historical work on the effects of business enterprises on the economic conditions of the countries in which they operate.
2012 recipient: Richard White, Stanford University, Railroaded: The Transcontinentals and the Making of Modern America (W.W. Norton, 2011).

2012 honorable mentions: Jason M. Colby, University of Victoria, The Business of Empire: United Fruit, Race, and U.S. Expansion in Central America (Cornell University Press, 2011), and Philip J. Stern, Duke University, The Company-State: Corporate Sovereignty and the Early Modern Foundations of the British Empire in India (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011).

2012 Gomory article prize recipient: Gregg Mittman, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Paul Erickson, "Latex and Blood: Science, Markets, and American Empire," Radical History Review 107 (Spring 2010): 45-73.
Herman E. Krooss Prize. The prize recognizes the best dissertation in business history written in English and completed in the three calendar years immediately prior to the annual meeting.
2012 recipient: Alexia Yates, Harvard Center for History and Economics, “Selling Paris: Real Estate and Commercial Culture in the Fin-de-Siècle Capital” Ph.D., University of Chicago, 2010).
Oxford Journals Article Prize. This prize recognizes the author of an article published in Enterprise & Society judged to be the best of those that have appeared in volume previous to the year of the BHC annual meeting.
2012 recipient: Milena Veenis, University of Amsterdam, “Cola in the German Democratic Republic: East German Fantasies on Western Consumption” 12 (Sept. 2011): 489-524

2012 honorable mentions: Bianca Murillo, Willamette University, “'The Devil We Know’: Gold Coast Consumers, Local Employees, and the United Africa Company, 1940-1960” 12 (June 2011): 317-55, and Christopher Jones, Ciriacy-Wantrup Fellow, University of California, Berkeley, “The Carbon-Consuming Home: Residential Markets and Energy Transitions” 12 (Dec. 2011): 790-823.
Mira Wilkins Prize. This prize, established in recognition of the path-breaking scholarship of Mira Wilkins, is awarded to the author of the best article published annually in Enterprise & Society pertaining to international and comparative business history.
2012 recipient: Neil Rollings, University of Glasgow, “Multinational Enterprise and Government Controls on Outward Foreign Direct Investment in the United States and the United Kingdom in the 1960s” 12 (June 2011): 398-434.
K. Austin Kerr Prize. The prize recognizes the best first paper delivered at the annual meeting of the Business History Conference by a new scholar (doctoral student or those within three years of receiving their Ph.D.). It honors K. Austin Kerr, longtime professor of history at the Ohio State University and former president of the Business History Conference.
2012 recipient: Gabriel N. Rosenberg, “The Programa Interamericano para la Juventud Rural and the Cultivation of Agribusiness and U.S. Hegemony in Cold War Latin America.”

2012 honorable mention: Kate Epstein, Rutgers University-Camden, “Arms and the State: American Torpedoes, Intellectual Property Rights, and the Origins of the Military-Industrial Complex before World War I,” Judge Glock, Rutgers University-New Brunswick, “The Federal Housing Administration: Did It Really Favor the Suburbs?”
The CEBC Halloran Prize in the History of Corporate Responsibility. The prize recognizes a paper presented at the BHC annual meeting that makes a significant contribution to the history of corporate responsibility. It is funded by the Center for Ethical Business Cultures (CEBC) at the University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business in honor of Harry R. Halloran, Jr.
2012 recipient: Jennifer Armiger, SUNY-Albany, “'What Was Good Enough in the 1960s Is Not Good Enough Today’: Sex, Race, and Business Opposition to Equal Opportunity Policy in 1970s America.”

Monday, April 9, 2012

“Capitalism by Gaslight” Program Now Available

“Capitalism by Gaslight: The Shadow Economies of 19th-Century America,” a two-day symposium co-sponsored by the Library Company of Philadelphia and the McNeil Center for Early American Studies, will highlight the many ways Americans earned livings through economic transactions made beyond the spheres of “legitimate” commerce and explore the crucial importance of the shadow economy to the development of commercial and industrial capitalism in nineteenth-century America. It takes its inspiration from the Library Company's current exhibition “Capitalism by Gaslight.” In the words of the organizers,Wendy Woloson and Brian Luskey,
. . . this conference highlights the innovative research being done by historians of capitalism and its culture. These scholars examine the many ways in which Americans earned a living through economic transactions made beyond the spheres of legitimate commerce. Although these shadow economies may have unfolded off the books, they were anything but marginal. They were, rather, crucially important parts of the mainstream economy, bound up in the development of commercial and industrial capitalism in nineteenth-century America. . . . 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. By bringing these economies out of the shadows, [we] seek to clarify what capitalism was and the ways in which it shaped nineteenth-century America.
The program is available on the meeting website, as well as information about registration and travel. The meeting will take place Thursday, June 7, at the McNeil Center (3355 Woodland Walk) and Friday, June 8, at the Library Company.

Friday, April 6, 2012

The 1940 Census: A Follow-up

As reported here earlier, the 1940 U.S. Census went public on April 2, marked by a ceremony at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. The manuscript pages of the 1940 Census, which can be viewed online at, are rich with data for the study of business history during the Depression decade. At the ceremony, long-time BHC member David Sicilia (University of Maryland) shared the stage with Archivist of the United States David Ferriero and U.S. Census Director Robert Groves. In his remarks, Professor Sicilia explained that
The answers to many of the 81 questions asked in the 1940 U.S. Census will help us understand as never before not only how the Great Depression affected work and residence as well as how the roll out of New Deal programs affected the material lives of Americans. (Nine questions are about Social Security, for example.) Now we can see property values, the size and frequency of mortgage payments, and what kind of lending institution held which mortgages. Historians of technology can now see which homes had radios or flush toilets, and what kinds of fuel were used for heating and cooking. Historians of architecture and material culture can analyze exterior construction materials and what kinds of Americans rented furniture.
There was so much traffic on the website—over 37 million visits in the first seven hours—that the system crashed, but NARA reports that most problems have been resolved. The records are now searchable only by census enumeration district. However, according to the AHA blog, "within six to nine months, a host of volunteers will have completed a name index, allowing researchers to completely bypass the enumeration districts." The National Archives has partnered with private firms such as to create the searchable name indexes.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Call for Syllabi: Teaching Business History

As an outgrowth of the "Teaching Business History" roundtable at the recent BHC meeting in Philadelphia, we are undertaking a project to update and increase the syllabi on the BHC "Resources" website. We would therefore like to invite readers to send in relevant syllabi (or parts thereof—see below), which we will post on a dedicated area of the BHC web pages. Syllabi may be sent as Word documents, PDF files, or, if the material is already freely available on the Web, via a URL. The following guidelines apply:
  • The course need not be taught in a history department or even by a historian, but it must be primarily "history" in methodology and content.
  • You must be willing to allow the syllabus to be posted for free viewing on the Web.
  • The course in question does not have to be called "Business History," as long as it pertains to a topic in business history: for example, histories of capitalism, banking, industrialization, entrepreneurship. We define "business history" broadly to include topics related to the interaction of business with politics, culture, and society.
  • We wish to have a broad geographic and temporal scope; we would especially like to include business history topics outside the United States, as well as comparative courses.
  • We are also particularly eager to have syllabi for courses taught outside the United States. For this purpose, we would be happy to post syllabi not in English, though it would be very helpful if such syllabi were accompanied by a brief course description in English.
  • We are interested in courses at both the graduate and undergraduate levels; in this context, we also invite graduate reading lists on business history topics.
  • If you teach a course that is not primarily focused on business history but includes a module or unit on a subject in business history, we would be happy to have just that module.
  • Full credit will be given to the syllabi author and his or her institution.
    Those who send URLs should note that some materials posted on academic websites are not available outside the home institution; please make sure the site is accessible to all before sending a URL.
    Please send syllabi, reading lists, or modules to, with "syllabus" in the subject line. 
    We will post a follow-up announcement when sufficient material has been received and the website has been updated.

Monday, April 2, 2012

CFP: 2013 Business History Conference

The Business History Conference invites proposals for its 2013 annual meeting, taking place March 21–23, 2013, at the Hyatt Regency Columbus hotel in Columbus, Ohio.
  The theme of the annual meeting is “The Cultures and Institutions of Business.” We are interested in all topics embracing the culture of business and the business of culture. Papers may engage the ways in which cultural beliefs, values, practices, institutions, meanings, language, identities, habits, and cognition shape business orientation, governance, behavior, and performance in different geographical, historical, or social settings. Papers may also address the ways in which business has acted upon cultural practices and institutions, both high and popular culture, or how the language of business has entered into wider public discourses. Works might cover such matters as the business of entertainment and the arts or cultural differences (or conformity) in ideas and practices of management, accounting, human resources, scientific and technological research, and innovation.
  In keeping with longstanding BHC policy, the Committee will also consider submissions not directly related to the conference theme.
   The committee will consider both individual papers and entire panels. Individual paper proposals should include a one-page (300-word) abstract and one-page curriculum vitae (CV). Panel proposals should include a cover letter stating the rationale for the panel and the name of its contact person; one-page (300-word) abstract and author's CV for each paper; and a list of preferred panel chairs and commentators with contact information.
   For more information, as well as details about BHC prizes and its doctoral colloquium, please see the full call for papers.
   The deadline for receipt of all proposals is October 1, 2012. Please send proposals for papers, panels, or the Krooss Prize to If you do not have access to the internet, you may send hard copies to Roger Horowitz, Secretary-Treasurer, Business History Conference, P. O. Box 3630, Wilmington, DE 19807, USA. Phone: (302) 658-2400; fax: (302) 655-3188.