Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Materials Available for “The Wilderness Act at 50”

The Lewis and Clark Law School recently held a symposium to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the Wilderness Act of 1964. The bill established the National Wilderness Preservation System (NWPS) and set aside an initial 9.1 million acres of wildlands for the use and benefit of the American people. In the intervening half century, Congress has added over 100 million acres to the land preservation system.
    Powerpoint presentations and video recordings of the sessions are linked from the Law School's website. The site also contains a link to the full text of the Wilderness Act. Although mostly concerned with issues of conservation, the symposium also deals with topics of more direct interest to business history, such as Bureau of Land Management policies, land use, water rights, and grazing. As Christine Rosen wrote in Environmental History nearly ten years ago, "it is essential that environmental historians join with business historians in investigating the historical interface between business and the environment. . . . not only because the subject is intrinisically interesting, but also because it promises to provide crucial insights into the origins of the mounting environmental and public health crises that loom before us."

Monday, April 28, 2014

Cornell History of Capitalism Summer Camp Deadline Nears

Cornell's History of Capitalism Summer Camp is a two-week workshop focusing on economic methods for historians. The format of the workshop is loosely based on an executive MBA program. Faculty and graduate students from across the country will participate in two weeks of intense lectures and labs in core technical areas designed to give them confidence in applying quantitative methods and economic theory to historical research. Participants receive instruction from statisticians, economists, and accountants on the basics of their fields, giving attendees the capacity and vocabulary to further develop their interests in economic techniques. By the end of the Camp, participants should be able to run basic regressions, conduct statistical tests, understand basic micro- and macroeconomic theory, and evaluate financial statements.
   The goal of the program is to encourage participants to develop the intuition required to undertake quantitative analysis, and to know when to ask for additional help from statistical consulting services at their university. The aim is to empower students to learn more after the workshop ends. The goal of all the topics is to provide participants with the necessary skills in locating and interpreting data, and then to provide the economic literacy to communicate those findings to a broader audience.
  The registration deadline for the Summer Camp is May 1. Please see the Camp website for more information. The Camp is part of Cornell's History of Capitalism Initiative.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Thomas Parke Hughes, 1923-2014

Thomas Parke Hughes
It has just come to our attention that Thomas Parke Hughes, Andrew W. Mellon Professor of the History and Sociology of Science emeritus at the University of Pennsylvania, died on February 3, 2014, after a long illness. According to the University of Pennsylvania's remembrance, Hughes "wrote of America transformed by technology. He contributed to the concepts of technological momentum, technological determinism, large technical systems, social construction of technology, and introduced systems theory into the history of technology." He also encouraged business historians to look at firms as networked systems.
     Hughes received a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering (1947) and a Ph.D. in modern European history (1953) from the University of Virginia. Among his publications he is best known for the books Networks of Power: Electrification in Western Society, 1880-1930 (1983), which one the Society for the History of Technology's Dexter Prize, and American Genesis: A Century of Invention and Technological Enthusiasm, 1870-1970 (1989), which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in history. Among his many achievements, Hughes was one of the founders of the Society for the History of Technology (SHOT). An early excerpt from his work on power systems can be found in Business and Economic History, "Managing Change: Regional Power Systems, 1910-30" (1977).
    Obituaries can be found in the Philadelphia Inquirer, on the University of Pennsylvania website, in The Daily Progress (Charlottesville, Virginia), and, most completely, on the SHOT website

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

CFP Reminder: “Green Capitalism”

Today being Earth Day, it seems an opportune moment to remind readers that the deadline for submitting papers to the upcoming conference, "Green Capitalism? Exploring the Crossroads of Environmental and Business History" is May 1, 2014. The Center for the History of Business, Technology, and Society at the Hagley Museum and Library and the German Historical Institute will co-sponsor the conference, to be held at Hagley on October 30-31, 2014.
    Proposals may be up to 500 words in length, and should include a summary of the paper's argument, the sources on which it draws, and the larger historiographic context or contemporary debates with which it engages. A short c.v. or resume should accompany the proposal, which should be sent via email to Carol Lockman. Presenters will receive travel support to cover most costs to attend the conference. Please see the full call for papers for additional details.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Call for Applications: EABH Summer School

Applications are invited for the upcoming EABH Summer School in Financial and Monetary History, which will take place July 8-11, 2014, at the Universidad Carlos III Madrid. The topic will be “Rethinking Financial History.”
   The School invites applications from Ph.D. candidates and post-doctoral students in economics, economic history, and related disciplines who are undertaking doctoral or post-doctoral research projects in financial, banking, or monetary history. This training initiative is financially supported by the European Association for Banking and Financial History, Frankfurt, and is hosted by the Figuerola Institute for Social Sciences History at Universidad Carlos III Madrid. The organizers plan to select up to a maximum of 20 students; priority will be given to Ph.D. students at an early stage of their doctoral studies.
   The deadline for applications is May 9, 2014. For full information about the program and detailed instructions for prospective applicants, please visit the School’s webpage.

Friday, April 18, 2014

EHA Prize Deadline Approaching

The Economic History Association invites submissions for the Allan Nevins Prize in U.S. or Canadian Economic History and for the Alexander Gerschenkron Prize in the economic history of an area outside the United States or Canada. Both prizes will be awarded at the Economic History Association’s annual meeting in Columbus, Ohio in September 2014.
    Those who received their Ph.D. between May 16, 2013 and May 15, 2014 are eligible and invited to submit their dissertation for consideration. All candidates for these prizes must be members of the Economic History Association. Dissertations submitted for consideration must be in English. Submission of a dissertation implies that candidates are prepared to attend the 2014 meetings in Columbus, Ohio. Presentation of a dissertation summary is required by all finalists. Scholars submitting a dissertation for consideration should not in the same year submit a proposal to the general program that is part of or derived from the dissertation.
   The deadline for entries is May 15, 2014.
   Dissertations must be submitted as a single PDF file. Files of less than 5 MB in size may be sent directly to the conveners as an email attachment. To submit a file over 5 MB in size, please supply a download link in an email message. Please send submissions for the Allan Nevins Prize to Leah Platt Boustan at Please send submissions for the Alexander Gerschenkron Prize to Mauricio Drelichman, All submissions will be acknowledged by return email. Notices announcing the selection of finalists will be sent to all candidates by July 24, 2014.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship at the GHI

The German Historical Institute (GHI) in Washington, D.C., under the directorship of Hartmut Berghoff, is searching for a post-doctoral research fellow in history for an initial three-year period starting in September 2014. The appointment might be extended for up to a total of five years. The successful candidate should have a completed Ph.D. in modern history and be prepared to start a new research project, related to the fields of German, North American, transatlantlantic, or global / transnational history. Research fellows are expected to work on and, if given a five-year appointment, to complete a second book project
    The position requires an active involvement in the general academic work of the GHI; duties may range from editorial oversight of our scholarly publication series to the organization of academic workshops and conferences. Experience in preparing grant applications or in conference organization is a plus. Fellows are expected, furthermore, to contribute to one of the institute’s collaborative research projects; we are especially interested in candidates with a background in the history of migration, or in business economic history. For more information on the GHI’s current research agenda, please visit the Institute's website.
    The GHI is part of the Max Weber Foundation German Humanities Institites Abroad (MWS), which is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. The GHI offers a competitive pay package with benefits. Fellows receive support for archival and conference travel and can benefit from the GHI's research facilities and direct access to the holdings of the Library of Congress.
    A good command of written and spoken German is not required but would be a great plus. The GHI is a bilingual research institute with many direct links to Germany. The candidate must have either U.S. citizenship or a valid work permit for the United States. The GHI cannot sponsor visa applications. The GHI is an equal opportunity employer committed to diversity of staff. Women, minorities, and people with disabilities are strongly encouraged to apply. Please send your letter of application, a research proposal describing your new project (4-6 pages), three names of potential references, and a curriculum vitae in PDF format to by May 12, 2013

Monday, April 14, 2014

Business and Economic History at the Omohundro Institute Conference

The 20th annual conference of the Omohundro Institute for Early American History and Culture (OIEAHC) will be held at Halifax, Nova Scotia, on June 12-14, 2014. Hosted by Dalhousie University and Saint Mary’s University, the Conference will focus on “Consequences of War,” though papers encompassing many other topics will also be presented.
Of particular interest are the following papers and sessions:
Session 6: “Conducting Trade amidst Chaos: Maritime Commerce and Anglo-American Law from the Wars for Empire to the War of 1812”
Chair and Comment: Gautham Rao, American University
Hannah Farber, University of California, Berkeley, “A Boisterous Season on the Atlantic”: American Marine Insurers in the Age of Revolution

Kate Brown, University of Virginia, Alexander Hamilton and “the Consequences of War”: Exploring the Impact of Neutrality on Marine Insurance Law and American Federalism

Mitch Fraas, University of Pennsylvania, Transferring Allegiance: Prize Courts and Claims of Belonging in the mid-Eighteenth Century
Session 11: Alexandra Montgomery, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Plantations: Nova Scotian Land Schemes and Imagining British America Between the Wars, 1763–1775

Session 19: Christopher Magra, University of Tennessee, The Wages of War: Coerced Military Service and the Loss of Economic Freedom in the American Revolutionary War

Session 23 (chaired by Ellen Hartigan-O'Connor): Katherine Smoak, Johns Hopkins University, “To Prevent the further growth of this Evil”: Confronting Counterfeits and Regulating Value in Jamaica

Session 25: Michelle McDonald, Richard Stockton College, “Operating Under Suspicion”: The French Atlantic Commercial Networks of Dutilh & Wachsmuth

Session 27: Carl Robert Keyes, Assumption College, “Curious Monuments of the Infancy of Our Country”: Eighteenth-Century Marketing of Material Culture Commemorating the American Revolution
Catherine Cangany, University of Notre Dame, The Art of “Sophistication”: Determining Authenticity and Value in Counterfeit Goods
The program also contains numerous papers on the Indian and African slave trades and other topics of related interest. The full program is available on the conference website, as is information concerning registration and lodging.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

2014-2015 Rovensky Fellows Announced

Committee chair William J. Hausman has announced that John E. Rovensky Fellowships for 2014-2015 have been awarded to Betsy A. Beasley of Yale University and Benjamin Brady of the University of Virginia. The topic of Beasley's dissertation is "Serving the World:  Energy Contracting, Logistical Labors, and the Culture of Globalization, 1945-2008." Brady is working on "American Law and Business Abroad: Sovereignty, Extraterritoriality, and the Transatlantic Economy." Rovensky Fellows must be working toward a Ph.D. degree with American business or economic history as the area of major interest and must be enrolled in a doctoral program at an accredited college or university in the United States. The Fellowship provides a cash award of $10,000.
   Other committee members are Steven Usselman (Georgia Tech); Pamela Walker Laird (Colorado at Denver); Margaret Levenstein (University of Michigan); Richard Sicotte (University of Vermont); Christopher McKenna (Oxford University), and Marcelo Bucheli (University of Illinois). The fellowships arise from a substantial gift which Mr. Rovensky made to the Lincoln Educational Foundation in 1961; the monies and the Fellowship program are now administered by the University of Illinois Foundation.

Friday, April 4, 2014

2014 PEAES Conference Topic Announced

The Program in Early American Economy and Society's fourteenth annual conference, "Economic History's Many Muses," will be held October 24-25, 2014, at the Library Company of Philadelphia. The organizers write,
As PEAES reaches fifteen years old, it is a fitting time to reflect on the achievements of economic historians working in many areas and also to consider future directions in the field of economic history. Fifteen years ago, PEAES charted a course that welcomed fellowship applications and public programs covering a great range of both traditional and experimental themes. Since then, the Program has showcased fresh perspectives at its conferences, its journal and book publications feature some of the most innovative studies in economic history, broadly conceived. Its scores of fellows are among the most important scholars who have refined and reworked the many ways we understand the economies of people in all walks of life, in every corner of the Atlantic world down to the 1850s.
This conference looks back over those fifteen years to reflect on some of the central themes preoccupying economic historians in recent decades, how approaches and findings have changed, what achievements have been made, and how one can think about the future research in these vital subfields. A full program and registration page will be posted on the PEAES website in the coming weeks. For further information, please contact PEAES Director Cathy Matson.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Lamoreaux and Novak Discuss Corporate Rights in “Slate”

In "Getting the History Right," Naomi Lamoreaux of Yale University and William Novak of the University of Michigan provide a summary from the amicus brief written to the Supreme Court regarding Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores Inc.  In legal terms, the issue in the case is (from the SCOTUS blog): “Whether the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA) . . ., which provides that the government 'shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion'  unless that burden is the least restrictive means to further a compelling governmental interest, allows a for-profit corporation to deny its employees the health coverage of contraceptives to which the employees are otherwise entitled by federal law, based on the religious objections of the corporation’s owners.”
   One of the elements of the case rests on the extent to which corporations can be defined as "persons."   Lamoreaux and Novak write, “it seems reasonable that before altering the balance of power between corporations and the American people, the court should carefully consider recent scholarship in history.” They argue that
Contrary to present efforts to depict corporations as simple and natural entities—like persons—entitled to constitutional rights, a different view prevailed for most of American history. Until the mid-20th century, the corporation was seen as a special and artificial creature of the government. It has never been seen as entitled to the same array of rights guaranteed to citizens.
Lamoreaux and Novak are working on a longer term research initiative with the Tobin Project on the Corporation and American Democracy. An interview with the two can be found on the Tobin Project website. The full amicus brief, whose signatories also include Margaret Blair, Ruth Bloch, Eric Hilt, and Jonathan Levy, Ajay Mehrotra, Elizabeth Pollman, and John Wallis, is available here.

Tip of the hat to the Legal History Blog