Friday, September 27, 2013

“Consumer on the Home Front” Preliminary Program Available

The German Historical Institute (GHI) is holding a conference, "The Consumer on the Home Front: World War II Civilian Consumption in Comparative Perspective," on December 5-7, 2013, at the GHI London. The conveners are Hartmut Berghoff (GHI Washington), Andreas Gestrich (GHI London), Nikolaus Katzer (GHI Moscow), Jan Logemann (GHI Washington), Felix Römer (GHI London), and Sergey Kudryashov (GHI Moskau). According to the call for papers, the conference "will look at the role of the consumer and civilian morale in the war efforts of Germany, Japan, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States." The preliminary program is available here. The conference language will be English.
    Inquiries may be addressed to Felix Römer ( or Jan Logemann (

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Business History Web Exhibits: A Sampling

View of New Orleans, c. 1840
Many readers will be familiar with the websites constructed by major organizations like the Library of Congress, the British Museum, and the Smithsonian. But smaller organizations too have delved into their holdings to create interesting on-line exhibits of value to business and economic historians. The following links provide a small sample:
Art of the Draw: Advertising Posters from the McCormick-International Harvester Collection (Wisconsin Historical Society)
Maine Memory Network (a sample):
   Aroostook Country Railroads
   Atherton Furniture
   Biddeford, Saco and the Textile Industry
   Canning: A Maine Industry
   Early Fish Canneries in Brooklin
   Ice: A Maine Commodity
Brass Valley Ingenuity (Mattatuck Museum)
Exploring the California Gold Rush (California State Library)
The Coffee Trade and the Port of New Orleans (Louisiana State Museum)
The Colonial Sugar Refining Company, Ltd. (Australia National University)
Empire Land and Cattle Company (University of Arizona)
Enterprising Images: The Goodridge Brothers, African American Photographers (Michigan Historical Center)
Half a Day on Sunday: Jewish-Owned Mom and Pop Grocery Stores (Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington, D.C.)
In Pursuit of Adventure: The Fur Trade in Canada (McGill University)
Indianapolis through Invoices (Indiana State Library)
Time in a Bottle: A History of Owens-Illinois, Inc. (University of Toledo Libraries)
    A good source for library and archival web exhibits is the ongoing list maintained by the Smithsonian Institution.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Hagley Digitizes PRR Resource

The Hagley Library has digitized a rare reference work, the four-volume The Pennsylvania Railroad Company: Corporate, Financial and Construction History of Lines Owned, Operated and Controlled to December 31, 1945, and has made it freely available online via Hagley’s Digital Archives.
    In preparation for its 1946 centennial, the Pennsylvania Railroad Company commissioned the engineering firm of Coverdale & Colpitts to prepare a comprehensive history of the company. The commission resulted in the creation of two publications. The second volume, Centennial History of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, was widely distributed in 1949 and is readily available in many libraries. In contrast, the first volume was intended for the use of management only and dissemination was strictly controlled. Just one hundred copies of the four volumes were printed in 1947 and were distributed to selected company officers. Over time, many copies have been lost; others no doubt remain in the hands of private collectors. Hagley has therefore digitized the four-volume set in order to make this resource more widely available to scholars. The site contains the full text of all four volumes, as well as an index.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Recent and Forthcoming Books of Interest: End-of- Summer Edition

A compilation of some of the recently published and forthcoming books of interest to business and economic historians:
Joshua Barkan, Corporate Sovereignty: Law and Government under Capitalism (University of Minnesota Press, August 2013)

Jeremy Baskes, Staying Afloat: Risk and Uncertainty in Spanish Atlantic World Trade, 1760-1820(Stanford University Press, July 2013)

Sheri J. Caplan, Petticoats and Pinstripes: Portraits of Women in Wall Street's History (Praeger, June 2013)

Timothy Cobban, Cities of Oil: Municipalities and Petroleum Manufacturing in Southern Ontario, 1860-1960 (University of Toronto Press, August 2013)

Clare Haru Crowston, Credit, Fashion, Sex: Economies of Regard in Old Regime France (Duke University Press, October 2013)

Paloma Fernández Pérez and Andrea Colli, eds., The Endurance of Family Businesses: A Global Overview (Cambridge University Press, September 2013)

Oscar Gelderblom, Cities of Commerce: The Institutional Foundations of International Trade in the Low Countries, 1250-1650 (Princeton University Press, September 2013)

Noel Maurer, The Empire Trap: The Rise and Fall of U.S. Intervention to Protect American Property Overseas, 1893-2013 (Princeton University Press, August 2013)

Ajay K. Mehrotra, Making the Modern American Fiscal State: Law, Politics, and the Rise of Progressive Taxation, 1877-1929 (Cambridge University Press, September 2013)

Don Nerbas, Dominion of Capital: The Politics of Big Business and the Crisis of the Canadian Bourgeoisie, 1914-1947 (University of Toronto Press, July 2013)

Gail Radford, The Rise of the Public Authority: Statebuilding and Economic Development in Twentieth-Century America (University of Chicago Press, July 2013)

Jonathan Rees, Refrigeration Nation: A History of Ice, Appliances, and Enterprise in America (Johns Hopkins University Press, October 2013)

John F. Wilson, Anthony Webster, and Rachael Vorberg-Rugh, Building Co-operation: A Business History of The Co-operative Group, 1863-2013 (Oxford University Press, September, 2013)

Joshua D. Wolff, Western Union and the Creation of the American Corporate Order, 1845-1893
(Cambridge University Press, June 2013)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Upcoming Conference: “Commerce, Corporations and the Law”

The History Project is holding the second in a series of conferences designed to "provide support for young historians who are interested in economic history, the history of economic thought, and political and cultural histories of economic life." The conference, "Commerce, Corporations and the Law," will meet at Princeton University on September 27-28, 2013. A list of the papers with links to abstracts can be found here.
    For information about the conference, please contact Jennifer Nickerson, at

Monday, September 16, 2013

EBHA Call for Papers 2014: Website Now Open

Tower of University Hall, Utrecht University
The European Business History Association (EBHA) will hold its next annual congress in Utrecht, The Netherlands, on August 21-23, 2014, in cooperation with Utrecht University and the Netherlands Economic History Archive. The theme will be "Comparative Business History: Contrasting Regions, Sectors, and Centuries." In the call for papers, organizers "encourage participants to take radically different perspectives and take a long-term view in comparing business activities across different periods of time, to compare similarities and differences, and to reflect about their meaning."
    Session and paper proposals can be submitted through the Congress website from today (September 16, 2013) onward. A paper proposal should include a title and an abstract of no more than 400 words plus a brief CV of the author. Session proposals should include a brief abstract of the session along with an abstract plus CV for each participant. The deadline for the submission of session and paper proposals is January 15, 2014.
    For the full call for papers and submission instructions, please see the Congress website.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Fall 2013 Workshops and Forums in Business and Economic History

As the new academic year begins, we again offer a round-up of ongoing workshops, forums, and discussion groups in business and economic history. Please check each website for more detailed information; some groups, particularly those in non-US universities, may not have posted Fall 2013 information. In addition to their value for those able to participate directly, these groups often maintain mailing lists and sometimes make speakers' papers freely available.
Business History Forum, Columbia University
Business History Seminar, Harvard Business School
Business History Unit Seminars, LSE
Business History @ Erasmus Seminars
Center for the History of Business, Technology, and Society (Hagley) Research Seminars
Centre for Macroeconomics and the Historical Record (MEHR), University of Copenhagen
Columbia University Seminar in Economic History
Seminars in Economic and Social History, University of Cambridge
Economic and Social History of the Premodern World, IHR, University of London
Financial History Seminar Series, Stern School, NYU
FRESH Meeting schedule
George Mason Economic History Workshop
Harvard Economic History Workshop
History and Economics Seminar, Harvard University
History of Capitalism Workshop, University of Georgia
History Workshop in Technology, Society, and Culture, University of Delaware
Institute for Economic and Business History Research, Stockholm
Newberry Seminar on the History of Capitalism
Paris School of Economics, Economic History Seminar
PEAES Fellows Colloquium and Seminars, Library Company of Philadelphia
Penn Economic History Forum
Program on the Study of Capitalism, Harvard University
University of Arizona Economic History Workshop (listed among all Econ Dept. seminars)
Vanderbilt University Economic History Workshop
Von Gremp Workshop in Economic and Entrepreneurial History, UCLA
Washington (D.C.) Area Economic History Seminar
Workshop on the Cultural History of Capitalism, University of Georgia
Yale Economic History Workshop

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Ronald Coase, 1910-2013

Readers may be aware of the death of Ronald Coase, the Nobel Prize-winning economist who was the Clifton R. Musser Professor emeritus of Economics at the University of Chicago Law School. He died on Monday, September 2, at the age of 102. Commentary and obituary notices abound; here is a sampling:
The New York Times
The Economist 
The Guardian 
The Washington Post 
NPR: Planet Money 
Los Angeles Times
Financial Times
Chicago Tribune
The Wall Street Journal and again, here, and again, here
The New Yorker
Coase was probably best known among business historians for his seminal 1937 article, "The Nature of the Firm" (currently available and ungated on-line here) and for the introduction of the concept of transaction costs.

Monday, September 9, 2013

The BHC Launches Redesigned Website

The Business History Conference has launched its redesigned website. Although the underlying structure remains the same, as does the home page URL, some new sections have been added and others expanded.  Readers who have bookmarked pages in the past should check to see if specific URLs have changed; in addition, if the old pages are cached, users may find it necessary to use the browser's "refresh" button to see the new pages. We hope readers will find the content useful!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

CFP: AHA Annual Meeting, New York, 2015

The American Historical Association (AHA) has issued the call for proposals for its 2015 meeting. The AHA will meet in New York City on January 2-5, 2015, when the theme of the meeting will be "History and Other Disciplines." The Program Committee welcomes session proposals from all members of the Association, whatever their institutional affiliation or status, as well as from affiliated societies, historians working outside the United States, and scholars in related disciplines. Please note that proposals for individual presentations can be submitted only as posters; single paper proposals will not be considered for any other type of session.
   Proposals, which can be drawn up in several different categories this year, must be submitted on-line. The deadline is February 15, 2014. Those considering sending in a submission might first want to read Debbie Ann Doyle, "New Ideas for Creative Formats at the Annual Meeting," which outlines the possibilities of various new session formats.
    BHC members should be aware that the organization is an affiliated society of the AHA, and that there is a Liaison Committee to facilitate interaction, currently co-chaired by Josh Lauer and Caitlin Rosenthal. Note, however, that affiliated status does not give organizations priority in the selection process.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Food and Marketing History from the Hagley Library

Seagram's 7 Crown ad, 1980
In the summer 2013 issue of Digest: A Journal of Foodways and Culture, Ai Hisano has published a research note on the value of food market studies for historians, "Negotiating Taste: Food Market Research in the Hagley Library." She argues that "marketing research can serve as a way to comprehend not only corporate initiatives but also the political and cultural constructions of eating and drinking habits and interrelations between producers, distributors, and consumers." Her research focuses on two Hagley Library collections, the Seagram Company papers and the papers of Ernest Dichter, a psychologist who pioneered the use of motivational research as a marketing tool. Hisano's Digest research note is of particular interest because she lays out the many scholarly issues into which these materials might provide insight. She concludes,
The marketing studies found in [these] collections articulate how corporate business activities are closely related to political, economic, and cultural conditions. . . . To fully understand the dynamics of global exchanges of information and goods, it is essential to employ various approaches and methodologies across disciplines. . . . Only if scholars come together from a variety of disciplinary locations, will we be able to create more intricate pictures of food and drink histories and their roles in society.
Ai Hisano is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Delaware and a Hagley Fellow. She was a participant in the 2013 BHC Doctoral Colloquium.