Wednesday, December 31, 2014

NEH Summer Programs for K-12 Teachers

Each year the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) sponsors a series of summer programs for K-12 teachers and educators. Of particular interest in 2015 are:
Each workshop is developed by the hosting institution(s), and application must be made directly to the program in which one wishes to participate. The full list can be found on the NEH website. Accepted applicants will be provided with a stipend to help defray expenses. The application deadline for the programs is March 2, 2015.

Monday, December 29, 2014

“PanAm Records Available for Researchers”

With an online exhibit, "Cleared to Land: The Records of Pan American World Airways, Inc.," the University of Miami Libraries Special Collections division announces the enhanced cataloging of this significant collection. The collection contains "[f]ifteen hundred boxes of administrative, legal, financial, technical, and promotional materials as well as internal publications, photographs, audiovisual material and graphic material." With a grant from the National Historical Publications & Records Commission, the library staff has organized the PanAm records into eighteen thematic groups with over three hundred sub-themes to assist those searching the collection. To aid researchers, the library has prepared a visualization of the thematic outline. There is also an extensive Finding Aid, prepared by project archivist Emily Gibson. According to the website, "The end result is a collection that has been thematically mapped, mended, and preserved for generations to come, and a finding aid that allows researchers to find the materials they need more quickly and efficiently."
    Researchers should note that the PanAm Records are available for use in the library only; except for a few illustrative items on the website, the materials have not been digitized. For more information about the Pan American World Airways records, please contact Special Collections.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Over the Counter: Issue No. 10

Media coverage of Sven Beckert's Empire of Cotton continues: Beckert has an essay focusing on the book in The Atlantic and is interviewed by Diane Rehm on NPR.

BackStory has an interesting episode on the railroads and the standardization of time zones, "High Noons."

The World Economic Forum blog features an essay by Simon Ville, professor of economic and business history at the University of Wollongong, on "Why We Need to Teach Economic History."

Jeremy Adelman and Jonathan Levy describe "The Fall and Rise of Economic History" in a recent Chronicle Review issue (this is gated, but viewable at the Chronicle by those whose institutions subscribe, or here, in an ungated copy).

Congratulations to Jennifer Klein of Yale University, who has been awarded the 2014 Hans Sigrist Prize by the Hans Sigrist Foundation at the University of Bern in Switzerland for her contribution to the field of “Women and Precarity: Historical Perspectives.”

We regret to report the passing of well-known economic historian John Allen James. Several of his colleagues have posted an extended Scholarly Remembrance on EH.Net, accompanied by a bibliography of his work.

Jessica Lepler of the University of New Hampshire is interviewed in the "Ask the Author" segment of the current issue of Common-Place about her book, The Many Panics of 1837 (Cambridge University Press, 2013).

The December 19 issue of the Boston Globe features a long article on the "Ice King," Frederic Tudor. It quotes, among others, Jonathan Rees of Colorado State University at Pueblo, author of Refrigeration Nation (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013).

Hagley Library's SoundCloud series, "Stories from the Stacks," recently featured Emily Buchnea on merchant networks in the Anglo-Atlantic world.

The UK's National Railway Museum has put up a web exhibit on "Railway Safety since 1913," based on research by Mike Esbester of the University of Portsmouth; one can also read Esbester's discussion of his research on the NRM blog.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

About Christmas Shopping

Hill Brothers Millinery Goods salesroom interior, 1885
The consumer aspects of the Christmas season affect everyone, even those who do not celebrate the holiday. With this in mind, our own small gift is a selection of websites focusing on the history of (Christmas) shopping:
Histocrats in the Classroom has a feature on "Gilded Age Christmas Shopping"
Backstory Radio offers "Counter Culture: A History of Shopping" (with commentary from, among others, Elaine Abelson, Louis Hyman, and T. H. Breen)
"The Commercial Christmas," from BBC History Magazine
Slate, explaining that Christmas shopping season has started "early" since Victorian times
"An Economist Goes Christmas Shopping," from the New York Times, by Josh Barro, son of Harvard economist Robert Barro, and
"If Economists Wrote Christmas Cards," from The Atlantic (and the poll about gift-giving on which the piece is based)
Slate, again, with "The Original War on Christmas" and the Society for the Prevention of Useless Giving

Monday, December 22, 2014

WEHC2015: Accepted Sessions Posted, Registration Open

The XVIIth World Economic History Congress (WEHC) will meet in Kyoto, Japan, on August 3-7, 2015, around the theme of "Diversity in Development." The accepted sessions have now been posted to the Congress website.
    The site provides links to abstracts and expected participants for each session, as well as notices from those session organizers seeking papers. Among many relevant sessions, some of particular interest to BHC members include:
S20035, organized by Tom French: "The Economic and Business History of Occupied Japan"
S20039, organized by Hugh Rockoff: "How Financial Networks Become Vulnerable to Crises: A Global and Historical Perspective"
S20058, organized by Robin Pearson: "Risk Management, Insurance and Organisational Choice in History"
S20068, organized by Peter Coclanis: "Diversity in the Development of the U.S. South"
S20083, organized by Geoffrey Jones: "Shibusawa Eiichi’s Gappon Capitalism (Ethical Capitalism) as a Model for Developing Countries in Future Global Perspectives"
S20089, organized by Naomi Lamoreaux: "Organizational Innovation and Business Enterprise in International Perspective"
S20091, organized by Zorina Khan: "Patents and Incentives for Innovation across Time and Space"
S20107, organized by Adoración Alvaro-Mora: "New Insights into Foreign Direct Investment and the Multinational Enterprise: Assessing Long-Term Impacts on Host Economies"
S20127, organized by Dan Bogart: "New Perspectives on the Economic Impact of Canals and Railways" 
Final session details are to be available in April 2015. Registration is now open, as is the accommodation reservation system. For complete details, please consult the Congress website.

Friday, December 19, 2014

BHC Seeks New Web Editor

The Business History Conference announces its search for a new Web Editor to oversee its online presence as an organization.
    The new Editor will succeed the current Web Editor, Pat Denault, who will be permanently stepping down as of June 2015. The new Editor's term would officially start in March 2015 (running for 3 months concurrently with the present editor), runs for three years, and is renewable.
    The BHC Trustees recently approved the appointment of Shane Hamilton as Web Administrator, in charge of developing and maintaining the website's content management software. The Web Editor will thus not need special technical skills in website design or server operations, but should instead be prepared to focus solely on matters of producing and updating content and information for our membership. The ongoing responsibilities of the Web Editor include the following:
  1. Posting annual meeting materials. This involves both proactively contacting people for relevant information and then posting the program, abstracts, and papers in advance of the meeting. These duties, usually running from approximately December to March, constitute the busiest time of year for the web editor and the most concentrated work. 
  2. Updating the "Governance" sections as required (annual changes in Trustees, committees, etc.); updates to bylaws. 
  3. Maintaining and updating the Prizes and Awards pages (new prizes, each year's winners, etc.) 
  4. Maintaining BEH On-Line (posting new essays each year). 
  5. The Editor also serves as an ex-officio BHC trustee. 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. 
    The current Web Editor, Pat Denault, has agreed to keep editing The Exchange, the Business History Conference weblog, which is hosted on a different website. This will make the task of the Web Editor easier.
    The new Editor can reside in any country. Should it be needed, the BHC would be in a position to budget some modest funds to support the position, preferably in conjunction with matching support from an institution. Formal applications for the Web Editor position should be submitted by February 1, 2015, to Gerben Bakker, Chair, BHC Electronic Media Oversight Committee, at Please include a CV or résumé, and a cover letter explaining your 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 Gerben Bakker.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Web Exhibit from the NMAH: “America on the Move”

Sheet music, 'Bump, Bump, Bump in your Automobile,' words by Lew Brown, music by Albert Von Tilzer, Smithsonian Collections
America on the Move is a physical exhibit at the National Museum of American History with a strong online component. The Museum’s online transportation collection includes more than a thousand artifacts and photographs. The web version of the exhibit provides numerous ways to explore the material, including a chronologically divided set of sections spamming times pre-1876 through 2000. In addition to the visual materials, there are a number of thematic "stories," featuring many essays divided into topics such as "work and lesiure," "technology," and "immigration." The site also includes a list of learning resources such as self-guided tours, a "classroom activity guide," a reading list, and a list of other web links.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Sven Beckert on Slavery and Capitalism in the Chronicle Review

Chronicle Review, December 14, 2014
The current issue of the Chronicle Review has a long essay by Sven Beckert on "Slavery and Capitalism": "What distinguishes today's historians of capitalism is that they insist on its contingent nature,
tracing how it has changed over time as it has revolutionized societies, technologies, states, and many if not all facets of life." Citing scholars including Seth Rockman, Edward Baptist, Caitlin Rosenthal, and Walter Johnson, Beckert concludes that
There are still many open questions about slavery and capitalism, some specific, some broad. We have not yet conclusively shown, for example, how methods of labor control migrated from the world of the plantation to the world of the factory. We need more-detailed research on where the profits from slavery accumulated in Europe and the American North, and how they mattered to other sectors of the economy. We would benefit from a better understanding of how the tight economic connection between Northern entrepreneurs and slavery came to be undone. And we have only begun to account for what the rethinking of slavery does to our more general understanding of capitalism.
Beckert is Laird Bell Professor of History at Harvard University and author most recently of Empire of Cotton: A Global History (2014); he is the co-director of the Program on the Study of Capitalism at Harvard.

Friday, December 12, 2014

HBS Historical Collections Announces Doriot Exhibition

Georges F. Doriot, circa 1925. HBS Archives Photograph Collection: Faculty and Staff. HBS Archives, Baker Library, Harvard Business SchoolBaker Library recently opened a new exhibition, Georges F. Doriot: Educating Leaders, Building Companies. The physical exhibition, which will run through August 3, 2015, in the North Lobby, Baker Library | Bloomberg Center, Harvard Business School, is accompanied by an extensive website. According to Laura Linard, director of Baker Library Special Collections:
Baker Library recently opened a new exhibition,
The exhibition and related website examine the career of Georges F. Doriot, an educator and a founder of the modern venture capital industry. During his 40-year tenure at Harvard Business School, the charismatic professor taught business and leadership in his celebrated Manufacturing course to nearly 7,000 students. He realized his dream of establishing the first Master of Business Administration program in Europe by helping establish the European Institute of Business Administration (INSEAD). Doriot learned the art of bringing science and industry together in World War II, where he was responsible for the creation of new products for the welfare of US soldiers. For decades, as president of American Research & Development Corporation (ARD), an early venture capital firm founded in 1946, Doriot fostered the development of startup companies that focused on emerging technologies from computers to pacemakers.
The exhibition features selections from the Georges F. Doriot Collection—on permanent loan to Baker Library from the French Cultural Center, Boston—that reveal the ideas and ideals of a man who played a pioneering role in the emergence of the postwar entrepreneurial economy. Please contact Baker Library Historical Collections at if you would like to request a copy of the exhibition catalog. For more information about Baker Library Historical Collections, please visit the library's website.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

CFP: Cliometric Society Conference, 2015

The annual Cliometric Society Conference in 2015 will be held on the weekend of Friday, May 15, through Sunday, May 17, at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and hosted by the University of Michigan and the National Science Foundation. The conference is designed to provide extensive discussion of new and innovative research in economic history. Applicants from all continents and papers addressing important topics in economic history for all countries will be considered. Interdisciplinary research is particularly encouraged.
     Applications to present papers or to attend the conference are welcome from graduate students, junior faculty, and senior faculty in economic history, as well as from distinguished faculty in other fields who have research interests in economic history. Typically, twelve papers are selected for presentation and discussion. All participants are required to have read all papers and to attend the entire conference--that is, arrive before the opening session on Friday and leave after the closing session on Sunday. At least one author must be a member of the Cliometric Society. For membership information contact Michael Haupert at
     Proposals and requests to attend the conference will be accepted from December 2, 2014, through January 21, 2015. Those wishing to present a paper should provide an abstract and a 3-5 page summary of the proposed paper. In choosing papers and participants, the host committee will assign priority to those who have not attended recently or who have never attended. Graduate students wishing to attend or submit a paper proposal must obtain a letter of recommendation from their dissertation advisor. Those whose papers are selected for presentation will be expected to provide a completed draft of the paper in the proper format for the conference volume no later than April 1,  2015.
     Applications submitted via the web at are strongly preferred. Proposals (including addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses) may also be emailed to or sent via snail mail to Cliometric Society Conference Administrator, University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization, 2424 Maile Way, Rm 540, Honolulu, HI, 96822 USA. Questions? Email us at The full call for papers is available on the Society website.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Over the Counter: Issue No. 9

Stephen Mihm had an article in the New York Times Sunday Review on "Why CEOs Are Growing Beards."

Sven Beckert was in the news: his new book, Empire of Cotton, was the subject of a review in Slate by Eric Herschthal; and Beckert can be heard discussing his research in a broader context on Radio Open Source with Christopher Lydon.

The Junto had a post on "Economic Growth and the Historicity of Capitalism," by Tom Cutterham.

More on Edward Baptist and "The Half Has Never Been Told": Brett Rushforth has posted a compilation of reviews and responses to date.

Congratulations to Richard Roberts, winner of the 2014 Wadsworth Prize for Business History, presented by the Business Archives Council; the prize was awarded to Roberts for Saving the City: The Great Financial Crisis of 1914 (Oxford University Press).

The George Washington Financial Papers Project at the University of Virginia aims to produce a digital-only edition of these materials. Some visualizations and commentary are already available on the site. See, for example, Account Book 2, 1767-1775."

The Accounting History Review has published a special issue on "Accounting and the First World War," guest edited by Warwick Funnell and Stephen P. Walker; some of the essays are available via open access.

The Library of Congress has published a very useful research guide on "How to Trace Federal Regulations."

On the Open Culture website, one can hear a BBC broadcast of John Maynard Keynes talking about rearmament as a cure for high unemployment in 1939.

Those who missed the recent Southern Historical Association meeting might wish to know that business historians were well represented, most notably in a roundtable discussion, "The New History of Capitalism and Southern History," chaired by John Majewski, University of California, Santa Barbara, and featuring Ken Lipartito, Florida International University; Robin Einhorn, University of California, Berkeley; Stephen Mihm, University of Georgia; Sharon Murphy, Providence College; and Bart Elmore, University of Alabama.

Christopher Jones, Sean Patrick Adams, and Susan Strasser were all quoted in a recent Boston Globe article on "How to Get a Country to Switch to Coal."

Saturday, December 6, 2014

BHC Launches New Website

This week the Business History Conference launched its new website. The URL remains the same, but the site has been enhanced and updated in many ways, thanks largely to the efforts of Shane Hamilton (who, as the BHC web administrator, will manage the website's background workings), with assistance from current web editor Pat Denault (who will step down in June 2015). The new site is built with Drupal, an easy to use content management system that will allow those working on the site to focus on content rather than technical aspects.
    The new design aims to bring to the fore the rich material to be found on the BHC website--syllabi, web resources, interest-group bibliographies, and current books of interest--as well as information about the organization's governance, history, and annual meetings.
    One of the most important improvements is a dynamic members-only space that permits BHC members to post information directly: BHC members can add job listings, announcements, syllabi, web resources, and other information that can be seen by anyone who visits the website. Also significant is the entirely new Expertise Database, developed in response to persistent interest in helping journalists and other non-specialists locate business historians who have expertise in a particular area. Anyone can access the database, but only BHC members can be listed therein. The members-only area also will provide a direct gateway to the BHC journal Enterprise & Society after Cambridge University Press formally takes over as publisher on January 1, 2015.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

CFP: Organization of American Historians, 2016

Providence, RI
The Organization of American Historians (OAH) will hold its 2016 meeting on April 7-10 in Providence, Rhode Island. The theme of the meeting will be "On Leadership." The call for papers states:
In this presidential election year the Program Committee invites proposals addressing the theme "On Leadership" and exploring any aspect of leadership in American history. The character, origin, and practice of leadership; its successes, achievements, disappointments, and failures in any and every area of American life from the earliest years of human settlement to the early twenty-first century will be the principal topics of the 2016 OAH Annual Meeting. . . . Proposals may consider leadership as it applies to any aspect of American history, including—though certainly not limited to—politics, revolts, economics, race, gender, reform, technology, education, religion, agriculture, arts, resistance, sports, entertainment, research, communications, sexuality, literature, scholarship, environment, class, and international affairs whether leading in conventional or unconventional and dissenting directions or bounded by national, regional, or local demarcations or stretching beyond concepts of boundaries, as in cyberspace. We welcome panels that investigate cultural understandings of leadership as well as debates over ideas about leadership.
All proposals must include the following information:
• a complete mailing address, e-mail address, phone number, and affiliation for each participant
• an abstract of no more than 500 words for the session as a whole
• a prospectus of no more than 250 words for each presentation
• a biography of no more than 500 words for each participant

The deadline for proposals is January 23, 2015. Please see the call for papers for additional information about session types and submission procedures.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Digital Resource: Papers of the War Department, 1784-1800

Benjamin Lincoln to Nathaniel Greene, 1782, on supplies
The early papers of the U.S. War Office, from 1784 to 1800, were destroyed by fire in 1800. Continuing a project begun over a decade ago, the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason University has searched local repositories in the United States and Europe to find copies of the early documents and to digitize them. Over 45,000 documents have been found, consisting of hundreds of thousands of pages; the beginnings of the project are now available online at Papers of the War Department, 1784-1800. The archive contains many different kinds of documents in addition to traditional correspondence, such as accountant records, Indian treaties, inventories of equipment, and draft notes. According to the project website:
These Papers record far more than the era’s military history. Between 1784 and 1800, the War Department was responsible for Indian affairs, veteran affairs, naval affairs (until 1798), as well as militia and army matters. During the 1790s, the Secretary of War spent seven of every ten dollars of the federal budget (debt service excepted). The War Office did business with commercial firms and merchants all across the nation; it was the nation’s largest single consumer of fabric, clothing, shoes, food, medicine, building materials, and weapons of all kinds. “Follow the money,” it is said, if you want to learn what really happened, and in the early days of the Republic that money trail usually led to the War Office. For example, the War Department operated the nation’s only federal social welfare program, providing veterans’ benefits (including payments to widows and orphans) to more than 4,000 persons. It also provided internal security, governance, and diplomacy on the vast frontier, and it was the instrument that shaped relations with Native Americans.
 The War Office Papers project is using crowd-sourcing transcription techniques to bring the rediscovered documents on-line as quickly as possible.