Monday, September 29, 2014

Rovensky Fellowship: 2015-2016 Application Available

The University of Illinois Foundation announces the opening of the 2015-2016 John Rovensky Fellowships application process. Two $8,000 fellowships will be awarded for doctoral students writing their dissertations in U.S. business or economic history. The fellowships are available largely through the generosity of the late John E. Rovensky and are administered by the University of Illinois Foundation. Awardees may use the fellowship concurrently with other funding sources, including grants or teaching assignments.
Applicants must be working toward a Ph.D. degree with U.S. business or economic history as the area of major interest. Fellowship recipients must be enrolled in a doctoral program at an accredited college or university in the United States. Preference will be given to applicants who are preparing for a career in teaching and research and who will have completed all graduate course work prior to the fall of 2015. Awards are non-renewable, but may be taken along with other fellowships from other sources.
Application Process
The Rovensky Fellowship Selection Committee is composed of seven scholars in American economic and business history:
Marcelo Bucheli (Illinois, Urbana-Champaign), Chair
Margaret Levenstein (University of Michigan)
Christopher McKenna (Oxford University)
John Parman (William & Mary)
Richard Sicotte (University of Vermont)
Steven Usselman (Georgia Tech)
Pamela Walker Laird (Colorado Denver)
Applicants are judged on the basis of the following criteria:
  • Academic ability and interest in business and/or economic history, documented in one letter of recommendation
  • Demonstrated ability in research and writing
  • Potential for career in teaching and academic research, supported in letter of recommendation
  • Quality of dissertation proposal
Application forms may be found on the Web here. For additional information, please consult the Fellowship announcement. The deadline for completed applications is February 10, 2015.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

OTC: Notes of Interest, No. 5

This week's collection of notes of interest from around the Web:
Web resource for Depression studies: "American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940" at the Library of Congress; the site contains "the life stories of more than 10,000 men and women from a variety of regions, occupations and ethnic groups. People who told stories of life and work during the 1930s include an Irish maid from Massachusetts, a woman who worked in a North Carolina textile mill, a Scandinavian iron worker, a Vermont farm wife, an African-American worker in Chicago meat packing house, and a clerk in Macy's department store."

"Tracing Capitalism around the Globe" is a Cambridge University Press blog interview with Larry Neal and Jeffrey Williamson, coeditors of CUP's Cambridge History of Capitalism.

More on Thomas Piketty:
   a weekly series of substantive posts by Adam David Morton
   "Piketty Envy" from The Chronicle Review
   A handy "Piketty Reviews Round-Up" from The Century (as of July 1)

The National Archives blog published a piece using a "Petition of mechanics and manufacturers of the City of New York, April 18, 1789" to explain the economic deficiencies of the Articles of Confederation: "Why Did We Need a New Constitution?"

The Legal History Blog discusses Kenneth Lipartito's contribution on "The Antimonopoly Tradition" to the University of St. Thomas Law Journal. The special issue of the journal results from a symposium on the history of law and corporate responsibility; the other essays from the symposium are also available ungated, here.

The Imperial and Global History Forum has a piece by Mats Ingulstad, Andrew Perchard, and Espen Storli, editors of the recently published Tin and Global Capitalism, 1850-2000: A History of the “Devil’s Metal” (Routledge, 2014), in which they discuss the background of their topic and explain the History and Strategic Raw Materials Initiative.

The Worcester Polytechnic Institute, with sponsorship by the American Antiquarian Society, maintains a Searchable Database of Early American Mechanical Drawings. Although the database does not include an image of every drawing, many are available. Those interested in early American technology might also like to consult the digitized run of Scientific American made available online by Cornell University Library as part of the Making of America project.

Friday, September 26, 2014

CFP: EABH 2015 Archival Workshop: “Inflation. Money. Output”

The 2015 EABH (European Association for Banking and Financial History) has issued a call for papers for its next archival workshop, to be held on May 14, 2015, in Prague, Czech Republic. The workshop, hosted by the Czech National Bank and in cooperation with the Czech Banking Association, will focus on "Inflation. Money. Output: Economic and Financial Data Underpinning Analysis and Policy-Making." As the call for papers explains,
Reliable and timely economic and financial statistics are of paramount importance today. . . . central banks, commercial banks and insurance companies have been systematically collecting and compiling economic and financial data since at least the 1920s, if not earlier, in support of macro-economic analysis and policy-making. No doubt, many of these institutions will have in their archives data collections pre-dating automation . . . . The purpose of this workshop is to gain a better understanding of what is actually available in financial institutions’ archives, and to identify promising areas for future research or action.
Papers that include some reflection on how archival data series and collections can be used for current historical and economic research purposes are welcome. Paper proposals should be no longer than 500 words, preferably in English. They should be sent to no later than December 31, 2014. Submissions should include the full name, affiliation, and contact details of the author(s).
     For a much fuller description of the workshop, please see the EABH announcement.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Fall 2014 Workshops of Interest

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 yet have posted Fall 2014 information; in those cases, a link to the home site or last available listing is included.
     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 Seminar, Harvard Business School (scroll down)
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
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
Northwestern Economic History Workshop
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
Queen's University (Ontario) Economic History Workshop
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

Monday, September 22, 2014

Conference: “History of Law and Business Organizations”

A conference on "The History of Law and Business Organization" will be held at the Harvard Business School on November 21-22, 2014. The meeting is sponsored jointly by the Business History Initiative, the Economic History Seminar at Harvard University, and the Program in Economic History at the Economic Growth Center, Yale University. According to the conference statement:
It brings together leading scholars to advance the study of the intersection of law and business organization. The conference explores the consequences of underlying legal structures for business and economic development. The key topics for discussion will revolve around the type of legal form that is most conducive to economic development (i.e., the corporation versus alternative forms like the partnership or intermediate forms like the private limited liability structure). The conference papers will consider the significance of the Anglo-American common-law tradition versus code-based legal systems.
The program is available here. Graduate students and faculty from any university are welcome to attend, but registration is required. For lodging and travel information, please see the conference website. Questions may be directed to Linda Cornell at

Friday, September 19, 2014

CFP: Economic and Business History of Latin America in Chile

As part of the 80th anniversary celebrations of the Faculty of Economics and Business of the University of Chile, the Faculty is hosting an International Conference on the Economic and Business History of Latin America to be held on December 12, 2014 in its premises in Santiago, Chile. The conference invites contributions in English or Spanish in all areas associated to the themes of the conference. A selection of the participating papers will be invited to be published in a special issue of the journal Estudios de Economía with Bernardo Bátiz-Lazo (Bangor University) as guest editor. The conference is organized with the sponsorship of Universidad de Santiago de Chile.
    The conference is also organizing a posters session open to undergraduate and postgraduate students undertaking their thesis in any field relevant to the conference. The best posters will be awarded a prize. The deadline for submitting contributions and posters is October 19, 2014
     An extended abstract of up to 1000 words explaining the research question, the data and methods employed and the main results and conclusions should be sent to The deadline for sending complete versions of the papers is December 1, and the deadline for submitting the final, revised versions of the papers to be published in Estudios de Economía is January 18, 2015. The special issue will be published in May 2015.
      Scientific Committee
Bernardo Bátiz-Lazo (Bangor University)
José Díaz (ClioLab, Universidad Católica de Chile)
Bernardita Escobar (Universidad Diego Portales)
Manuel Llorca (Universidad de Santiago de Chile)
Mario Matus (Universidad de Chile)
Javier Núñez (Universidad de Chile)
César Yáñez (Universidad de Barcelona & Universidad de Valparaíso)

Program: American Society for Legal History Annual Meeting

The preliminary program for the annual meeting of the American Society for Legal History (ASLH), to be held on November 6-9, 2014 in Denver, Colorado, has been posted.  Papers of interest include
  • Justene G. Hill, Princeton University, “'A Monstrous Nuisance': Legislative Responses to Slave Economies in South Carolina, 1850-1860” (Friday, A2)
  • Tamara Venit-Shelton, Claremont McKenna College, “Too Big to Fail? Stephen Mallory White, the Southern Pacific, and the Transformation of Anti-Monopolist Politics in California and the Nation” (Friday, B2)
  • Megan Francis, University of Washington, “Black Convict Labor, Capitalism, and the Rise of the New South” (Saturday, D4)
and entire sessions such as
  • “Law's Governance and Labor's Bodies” (Friday, B3)
  • “ 'The Crime Against the Economy': Revolutions, Markets and the Law” (Friday, C2)
  • “Building a Public Economy: New Approaches to Progressive-Era Economic Regulation” (Saturday, B4)
Those interested in attending the meeting can find full information on the ASLH conference website.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

“Green Capitalism” Conference Program Now Available

A conference on "Green Capitalism? At the Crossroads of Environmental and Business History" will take place at the Hagley Museum and Library on October 30-31, 2014. The program has now been posted. Cosponsored by the Hagley's Center for the History of Business, Technology, and Society and the German Historical Institute in Washington, D.C., the conference will feature a wrap-up summation by Christine Meisner Rosen of the University of California at Berkeley. Session topics include "Firms as Conservationists?", "Consumers' Demands," "Globalization," "Firms Going Green," and "Governance."
     The meeting is open to all without fee, but advance registration is required. Those interested should contact Carol Lockman,, for program and registration information.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Fellowship: History of American Capitalism

The 2015-2016 fellowship competition at the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History at Harvard (CWC) will focus on "The History of American Capitalism." According to the announcement:
We propose to build on the growing scholarly interest in political economy and the history of capitalism while at once broadening its scope and creating a cross-disciplinary endeavor that embraces the sociology of knowledge, the study of technology and material culture, changing paradigms of political authority, the re-organization of family life, the invention of the modern private subject, and the birth of liberal ideology. We shall accordingly seek to include in the ranks of our fellows and guest lecturers scholars from such diverse fields as anthropology, business, engineering, law, political philosophy, and, yes, economics.
Fellows will present their work in a seminar led by Sven Beckert (History), Christine Desan (Law School), and Michael Zakim (University of Tel Aviv). Applicants may not be degree candidates and should have a Ph.D. or equivalent. Fellows must be in residence for at least the nine-month academic year. Applications are due by December 12, 2014, letters of recommendation by January 15, 2015. For a fuller description of the program and a link to application materials, please see the CWC announcement.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

OTC: Notes of Interest, No. 4

Items of interest from around the Web:

From the Museum of the City of New York: a new exhibition featuring the work of advertising illustrator Mac Connor (physical exhibit, but many on-line examples)

From the New-York Historical Society blog: a post on "When Edison Lit Up Manhattan"

As part of the British Library's "Endangered Archives" project, a large group of digitized documents from nineteenth-century Sierra Leone have been posted; many of the items concern "liberated Africans"--Africans freed from slave ships by the British Royal Navy

The program is available for "All at Sea: An International Conference on Prize Papers" to be held in early October at the UK National Archives; more information about the prize papers (intercepted mail and legal documents found on captured ships and now part of British High Court of Admiralty records) can be found here.
The Atlantic has an interview with Kara Swanson about her new book, Banking on the Body (Harvard University Press, 2014)

The Harvard Business Review has an annotated graphic of "The Chart that Organized the 20th Century"--the organization chart for the Union Pacific and Southern Pacific railroad system from Ray Morris's Railroad Administration (1910). (The book is available online here, but the chart, a fold-out, is not viewable.)

In honor of the 150th anniversary of the founding of Heineken, the Stadsarchief in Amsterdam prepared a special exhibition, "Heineken's Amsterdam." The physical exhibition closed in May, but the website remains (text is in Dutch).

Robert Darnton has launched a website on "Publishing and the Book Trade in France and Francophone Europe, 1769-1789," where "users can follow the play of supply and demand in literature, town by town and bookseller by bookseller. They can also study publishing strategies, pirating, smuggling, shipping, the role of booksellers as cultural intermediaries, and the pattern of best-sellers on a national scale."

A recent post on the blog of the James Hardiman Library at the National University of Galway describes the O’Connor Donelan collection, papers from a landed estate. This material is part of a much larger Landed Estates Database covering holdings in Connacht and Munster.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Economist Review Generates Discussion of Slavery and Capitalism

On September 4, 2014, The Economist published a short review of Edward Baptist's newly released book, The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism (Basic Books, 2014). The unsigned review concluded that "Mr Baptist has not written an objective history of slavery. Almost all the blacks in his book are victims, almost all the whites villains. This is not history; it is advocacy."
     The review in general and this comment in particular generated a firestorm of criticism from academics (including numerous sarcastic tweets; Twitter users may check #EconomistBookReviews). The publisher quickly withdrew the piece, though it is still viewable here (minus the still photo originally included of Patsey from the movie "12 Years a Slave," with the caption "Patsey was certainly a valuable property;" that can be viewed here).
     Beyond the furor, the episode generated interesting discussions of the historiography of slavery and capitalism in the United States, links to some of which are collated here:
Jim Downs, " 'Big Wheel Keep on Turnin' ': Slavery, Capitalism, and The Economist," The Huffington Post
"History, Hashtags, and the Truth about Slavery," Chronicle of Higher Education
Matthew Yglesias's extended commentary, on Vox
Jonathan Wilson, review, "Another Kind of Blood: Edward Baptist on America's Slaver Capitalism," The Junto (published before the Economist review)
Hector Tobar, review, LA Times
Ellora Derenoncourt, "The Slaver's Objectivity," The Jacobin
Greg Grandin, " 'The Economist' Has a Slavery Problem," The Nation
Fergus M. Bordewich, review, Wall Street Journal
Edward Baptist responded to the Economist review here:
"What the Economist Doesn't Get about Slavery--and My Book," Politico
Baptist, "The Economist Review," Talking Points Memo
Baptist, "How slavery haunts today's America," CNN
Baptist, "The Economist's review of my book reveals how white people still refuse to believe black people about being black," The Guardian
He can be found discussing the book in general on these sites:
National Archives (talk begins at c. 7 minutes in) (video)
Interview on the Tavis Smiley show (audio)
Interview with Daniel Kilbride on "New Books in History" (audio)
Interview with Scott Porch of Kirkus Reviews (text)
Baptist, who teaches history at Cornell University, is a member of the school's History of Capitalism Initiative.

Also of interest are two related essays, not occasioned by the Economist controversy:
Jim Oakes, "Genovese, Slavery, and Capitalism," Politics/Letters
Seth Rockman, "The Future of Civil War Studies: Slavery and Capitalism," Journal of the Civil War Era (as well as Tom Cutterham's commentary on The Junto and Rockman's reply)
Update, 10/2/14: Baptist's book is reviewed in the New York Times here.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Conference Program: Business History at the Urban History Association Meeting

The Business History Conference, through the work of its Liaison Committee, is sponsoring two sessions at the upcoming meeting of the Urban History Association (UHA), to be held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on October 9-12, 2014. Writing for the committee, Alexia Yates stated, “Many of our members are also affiliated with the UHA, and we enjoy several areas of shared research interest. We hope this collaboration helps further engage members of both associations.”  The two panels are:

Friday, October 10th, 8:30-10a.m.
Session 8: Food, Consumption, and Urban Placemaking
Andrew Case, Michigan State University
“Consuming the Countryside: The Rodale Press and the Tastes of Pennsylvania Dutch Country”
Meredith TenHoor, Pratt Institute
“Food and Gentrification in New York and Paris, circa 1970”
Stephen Nepa, Temple University
“Solving the ‘Rapid Transit Luncheon Problem’: The Horn and Hardart Company and the Automation of Dining Out in Philadelphia”
Dylan Gottlieb, Princeton University
“'Dirty, Authentic . . . Delicious': Yelp, Mexican Restaurants, and the Rise of Philadelphia’s Creative Class”
Chair and Commentator: Domenic Vitiello, University of Pennsylvania
Sunday, October 12, 8:30-10a.m.
Session 92: New Perspectives on Business and the City
Daniel Amsterdam, Georgia Institute of Technology
“The Business of Civic Welfare: Using Cities to Reconsider Corporate Social Politics in the Early Twentieth Century”
Brent Cebul, University of Virginia
“'Our responsibility to the city and the people of Cleveland': Business Producerism and Municipal Default in 1970s Cleveland, Ohio”
Lily Geismer, Claremont McKenna College
“'The Perfect Model for the 1990s': Chicago’s Shorebank Corporation, Microfinancing and Liberal Market-Oriented Solutions to Urban Inequality Following the War on Poverty”
Chair and Commentator: Julia Ott, The New School for Social Research
The full program is available here, and more information about the conference can be found on the UHA meeting website.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Upcoming Conference: “Institutions, Credit, and the State”

Hong Kong skyline
The History Project, in cooperation with the History Department at Yale University and the Joint Center for History and Economics, will hold its third conference on October 17-18, 2014, at the MacMillan Center at Yale University. The topic is "Institutions, Credit, and the State." The program has not yet been published, but a list of participants and paper abstracts are available on the conference website. Questions may be addressed to Jennifer Nickerson, coordinator of the History Project, at
[Apologies for previously incorrect title!]
    Readers may also want to check on the next annual conference in this series, which will focus on "The History of Energy and the Environment" and will be held at Harvard University on October 22-23, 2015.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Yale Launches Depression-Era Photo Archives Tool

Ben Shahn, 1935, "resident of Smithland, Kentucky"
During the Great Depression, the Farm Security Administration and the Office of War Information (FSA-OWI) hired photographers to travel across America to document the toll taken by the economic collapse and the effect of government relief efforts. Between 1935 and 1945, well-known photographers such as Dorothea Lange and Walker Evans took part in this massive photography project. The resulting photographs, over 170,000, were catalogued and eventually housed in the Library of Congress. Several years ago, the LoC digitized the images, but the sheer volume has made searching through them difficult.
    Now the Yale University Public Humanities program, working with a National Endowment for the Humanities grant, has launched Photogrammar, a web-based platform that assists in organizing, searching, and visualizing the historic photographs. The Photogrammar platform allows one to search through the images by photographer and, via great interactive county-level maps, by place. Additional tools are under development.
    The Photogrammar project was funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). The project's principal investigator is American Studies professor Laura Wexler, director of the Photographic Memory Workshop; co-directors are Lauren Tilton and Taylor Arnold.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

CFP: Asian Association of World Historians

The Asian Association of World Historians (AAWH) invites proposals for panels and papers at its Third Congress to be held May 29-31, 2015, at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. The theme of the Congress is “Migration in Global History: Peoples, Plants, Plagues, and Ports.” The call for papers states:
Understood in the broadest sense, “migration” brings into focus questions about the movement of peoples, businesses, capital, ideas, goods, diseases, technologies, diverse forms of knowledge, artistic styles, ecologies, as well as medical and scientific discoveries and practices across global borders. . . . While the Congress committee welcomes panels and papers that address [the theme], it will also consider proposals related to other topics on the history of the Asia-Pacific from global and world perspectives, including (but not limited to) the interdisciplinary history of science, technology, medicine, business, and the environment.
Proposals must be submitted by 1 October 1, 2014. For more details, please see the full call for papers. Questions may be directed to the 2015 AAWH Congress Committee at

Monday, September 1, 2014

Reminder: BHC-EBHA Proposal Deadline Approaching

As summer wanes and most readers settle in for the beginning of a new academic year, a reminder that paper proposals for the 2015 BHC-EBHA meeting are due by October 15. The 2015 joint meeting of the Business History Conference and the European Business History Association will be held in Miami, Florida, on June 24-27. The theme of the meeting will be “Inequalities: Winners and Losers in Business.” Thomas Piketty, author of Capital in the 21st Century, will deliver the joint meeting's plenary address. The conference also will have several additional plenary sessions, receptions, and organized local activities in Miami; addresses by the BHC and EBHA presidents; lunch meetings for business historians in business schools and for women in business history; a meeting of the Alliance of Centres for Business History in Europe; a breakfast and reception for emerging scholars (graduate students and recent Ph.D.s); membership meetings for the BHC and EBHA; and a closing banquet with presentation of awards by the BHC and the EBHA. This will be the fourth joint meeting of the Business History Conference and the European Business History Association.
    New this year is a "session organizer," which allows potential panel organizers to solicit additional papers. Please consult the call for papers and the meeting website for further meeting details.