Friday, August 30, 2013

David S. Landes, 1924-2013

We are saddened to report the passing of well-known economic historian David S. Landes on August 17, 2013, at the age of 89. Harvard's Department of Economics has published an obituary, as did the Boston Globe. Both are based on the obituary written by his son, Richard, here. An additional notice can be found in the Harvard Gazette. [Update: The New York Times published an obituary on September 7.]
   Landes's work focused on entrepreneurship and economic development, particularly on the issue of "the rise of the West." He came to Harvard University in 1964, where he remained throughout his career, retiring in 1997 as Coolidge Professor of History and Professor of Economics. Among his many works are
  • Bankers and Pashas: International Finance and Economic Imperialism in Egypt (Harvard University Press, 1958) (which originated as his 1953 Harvard doctoral dissertation)
  • The Unbound Prometheus: Technological Change and Industrial Development in Western Europe from 1750 to the Present (Cambridge University Press, 1969)
  • Revolution in Time: Clocks and the Making of the Modern World (Harvard University Press, 1983)
  • The Wealth and Poverty of Nations: Why Are Some So Rich and Others So Poor? (W. W. Norton, 1998)
Landes can be seen discussing  The Wealth and Poverty of Nations on C-Span in 1998; The American Interest has made available his 2008 interview with Francis Fukuyama as well as his essay on Max Weber's Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism.
    Comments on his passing can be found here (Brad DeLong), here (Richard Langlois), here (Michael Collins Dunn)m and here (Davis Dyer).

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Rita Lloyd Moroney Awards Offer Prizes for Work in Postal History

Pony Express poster from National Postal Museum, Smithsonian Institution
The Rita Lloyd Moroney Awards are sponsored by the United States Postal Service for scholarly works on the history of the American postal system. 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. Comparative or international historical studies are eligible if the American postal system is central to the discussion. 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.
    Conference papers, theses, dissertations, or published works by students are eligible for a $1,000 award; published works by faculty members, independent scholars, and public historians are eligible for a $2,000 award. The next deadline is December 1, 2013.
    For further details, please see the website for the Rita Lloyd Moroney Awards, or contact Richard Kielbowicz, Department of Communication, University of Washington, Previous recipients include BHC members Joseph Adelman and Philip Glende.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Upcoming Conference: “New Perspectives on the History of Political Economy”

"New Perspectives on the History of Political Economy" is a two-day conference to be held under the auspices of the Business History Initiative at Harvard Business School on November 1-2, 2013. According to the conference website:
The role of the state in economic life is an issue of tantamount importance, one that directly affects every commercial and financial transaction, that encourages and discourages international trade, and that impacts lives globally on an incredible scale. Now more than ever, with the ongoing crisis of laissez-faire and concomitant renaissance of state capitalism, it is time to rethink the historical role of governments in markets. How, over the past seven centuries, have governments—of cities, states, and empires—understood their role in trade, how have they interacted, and what can this tell us about regulation today? "New Perspectives on the History of Political Economy" will bring together more than two dozen of the world’s leading scholars to discuss these issues and to rethink the history of political economy from the end of the Middle Ages until the present day.
The conference aims to bring together international scholars in the field of political economy together with younger scholars at HBS. The preliminary program is now available, as well as information about lodging and travel. Questions should be directed to Felice Whittum.

Friday, August 23, 2013

EBHA 2013 Papers and Abstracts Posted

The European Business History Association's 2013 meeting began yesterday in Uppsala, Sweden. Those unable to attend might want to visit the EBHA website, where abstracts and many full papers are posted. The detailed program contains links to those papers that are available.
    Full texts of many papers from previous meetings are also linked from the EBHA website.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Hagley Begins Posting Digital Materials from the David Sarnoff Library

Victor Talking Machine Company ad from Good Housekeeping, 1905
The Hagley Library acquired the collections of the David Sarnoff Library after its closure in 2009. Staff have been processing portions of the nearly 3,000 linear feet related to the career of David Sarnoff and the Radio Corporation of America (RCA). This important collection traces the development of significant twentieth-century technologies like radio, television, and computer.
     In addition to the paper records, a collection of digital records was also transferred to Hagley. The digital content comprises photographs, documents, and publications digitized by the Sarnoff Library staff over the last decade. Hagley’s Digital Collections Department has begun the process of making selections of this material available online. This small portion of all the Sarnoff collections offers researchers a preview of what is to come.
   The following selections are currently online in Hagley’s Digital Archives:
Staff will continue to add new materials in the coming years as time allows.

Monday, August 19, 2013

BHC Seeks New Web Editor

The Business History Conference is searching for a new web editor to oversee its online presence as an organization.

The new editor will succeed the current editor, Pat Denault, who will be stepping down as of June 2015. The new editor's term would officially start in March 2015 (running for 3 months concurrent with the current editor), runs for three years, and is renewable. Ideally, the new editor will work closely with the outgoing editor as an assistant editor beginning in the fall of 2014, in order to manage the transition process.

Subsequent to the selection of the web editor, the BHC will appoint an assistant editor in charge of social media and an assistant editor in charge of web content. The assistant editor positions are new. The assistant editors' terms would also start in March 2015, run for three years, and are renewable. The new web editor will participate in the selection of the assistant editors.

The ideal candidates would be enthusiastic about the BHC as an organization, flexible in the face of a constantly changing medium, creative in terms of what kind of material the BHC might want to add to the site, and conscientious regarding the maintenance of the web presence. A basic understanding of HTML would be useful, and also the ability to use/willingness to learn a complex text editor like Dreamweaver. It would be ideal (but not essential) for the person to have access to student or other administrative help. The new editor can reside in any country.

The BHC is in a position to budget modest funds to support these positions, preferably in conjunction with matching support from an institution.

Formal applications for the web editor position should be submitted by 1 November 2013 to Anna Spadavecchia, Chair, Electronic Media Oversight Committee ( Candidates should attach a CV or résumé, and a cover letter explaining their qualifications, interest in the position, and vision for how to grow the BHC's web presence. Initial expressions of interest are welcome, and should also be sent to Anna Spadavecchia. For a complete search announcement and fuller explanation of duties, please see the BHC website.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Hartman Center Videos On-Line

The John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising, and Marketing History in the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Duke University has now posted videos from its guest speaker series on-line. Speakers include former advertising CEOs and Hartman Center staff. Topics range from women in advertising to "The Reality of Mad Men."
    Followers of the TV show "Mad Men" might also be interested in the Center's "Mad Men Mondays" blog entries, which summarize each episode and provide advertisements related to brands discussed or used by the characters.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Digital Resource: Beyond Steel

Logo for Beyond Steel project
Beyond Steel: An Archive of Lehigh Valley Industry and Culture is a website produced by the Lehigh University Library, under the editorship of John K. Smith. The site
highlights the Lehigh Valley's mid- nineteenth-century boom, late twentieth-century decline and continuing community readjustment. Through the digitization and presentation of letters, books, photographs, maps, essays, and oral histories the site will aid researchers in understanding not only the lives of railroad barons and steel titans, but also the experiences of average folks who worked and lived in the community.
The website, which is updated when new materials are available, is divided into several sections, including "Business & Technology," "Society & Culture," and "Mapping." The latter category contains a Historical GIS rendering of Bethlehem in 1900, based on "Sanborn fire insurance maps, Sholes' Directory of the Bethlehems, 1900-1901, 1900-1902 Bethlehem Steel employee lists, a contemporary database of streets, and selected information from the 1900 Census report." The result is "a geospatial presentation of turn of the century Bethlehem population and a context for more specialized visualization of workers in the steel industry." There is also a lengthy essay on "Iron and Steel in the Lehigh Valley," written by Smith, who teaches at Lehigh University. Among business historians, he is perhaps best known as the co-author (with David Hounshell) of Science and Corporate Strategy: DuPont R&D, 1902-1980 (1988).

Friday, August 9, 2013

SHOT 2013 Program, On-Line Registration Now Available

The Society for the History of Technology (SHOT) will hold its 2013 annual meeting in Portland, Maine, on 10-13 October. The conference website now includes full information about the meeting, the venue, accommodations, and registration. A summary program schedule is available here, while the full program can be downloaded here. The meeting will feature several "President's Roundtables"; of particular interest are "Cultures of Use: Histories of Technology Beyond Invention and Innovation,"chaired by David Nye; "Into the Real World: Historians and Public Policy," chaired by Jonathan Coopersmith; and "Capitalism and Neoliberalism," chaired by Richard R. John.
    Please note that the deadline for early registration is September 10, and that reservations at the Inn by the Bay must be made no later than September 8 to secure the conference hotel rate.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

CFP Reminder: WEHC 2015 First Call Deadline Approaching

The World Economic History Congress (WEHC) 2015 Organizing Committee reminds readers that the first call for session submissions will close on September 1, 2013. Full guidelines are available on the Congress website.
     The call for papers states,
The main theme of the WEHC 2015 is “Diversity in Development.” . . . WEHC Kyoto will explore the historical depth of diversity in economic development on a global scale. The IEHA welcomes sessions on all topics in economic history, business history, environmental history, demographic history, social history, urban history, cultural history, gender history, methodological approaches to historical research, history of economics and economic thought, and related fields. While submission of proposals relating to Asia and the developing world is encouraged, the Kyoto Congress will aim to be a global forum for dialogue and intellectual exchange and welcome submissions on topics covering all parts of the world. Session themes with a comparative and global perspective are particularly welcome. Organisers will be given wide discretion to shape the format of sessions to be the most interesting and efficient, given the topic and the participants invited.
Proposals should be submitted on-line via the Congress website.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Carlson's Book on Nikola Tesla in the News

W. Bernard Carlson recently published Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age (Princeton University Press, 2013). The book has garnered considerable mainstream media attention: readers can find reviews the Wall Street Journal, the Times Higher Education, The Times (London), and the Washington Post. In addition, Carlson, a long-time BHC member who also serves as the executive secretary of the Society for the History of Technology (SHOT), was a guest on NPR's Diane Rehm Show last month, on Coast to Coast AM, and on WICN's "Inquiry."  Carlson can also be heard discussing Tesla, at an earlier point in his research, on NPR's "On Point" (2010). There is a printed discussion with Carlson about Tesla on the Smithsonian website.
    Carlson also has an article on the Gotham History Blotter titled "Places of Invention: Nikola Tesla's Life in New York." And he blogs about one aspect of Tesla's work on The Huffington Post: "Did Al Gore Invent the Internet? No, Nikola Tesla Did." UVA Today has a lengthy interview with Carlson about his research and aspects of Tesla's life and career; a video interview from UVA Today is available here.
    One interesting venue is the website "Epic Rap Battles in History," which uses rap to present well-known historical rivalries in 21st-century idiom. They recently produced a "Tesla vs. Edison" video, which Carlson dissects here, explaining the differing business strategies of the two men.
    W. Bernard Carlson is professor and chair of the Engineering and Society Department at the University of Virginia.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Fellowship: Harvard-Newcomen Postdoc in Business History

The Harvard-Newcomen Postdoctoral Fellowship in Business History is awarded for twelve months’ residence, study, and research at Harvard Business School. 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. A travel fund and a book fund will be provided. The second is to provide an opportunity for the fellow to participate in the activities of Harvard Business School. 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.

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; these can be submitted on-line, but must come directly from the referee. Applications should be received no later than October 15, 2013 and submitted online.

Please see the HBS Newcomen Fellowship website for full information and submission details.