Monday, March 30, 2015

Beckert Awarded Bancroft Prize in History

Photograph by Jon Chase/Harvard Public Affairs and Communiciations
Sven Beckert, Laird Bell Professor of History at Harvard University, has been awarded a 2015 Bancroft Prize in history for his book Empire of Cotton: A Global History by the trustees of Columbia University. He is a co-recipient with Greg Grandin, a professor at New York University, who won for The Empire of Necessity: Slavery, Freedom, and Deception in the New World.
The official announcement called Empire of Cotton “a masterful achievement in the burgeoning field of the study of capitalism . . . an expansive global history that also helps us rethink the history of the United States, lifting our understanding of American slavery, cotton production, the Civil War, and Reconstruction out of the parochial confines of nation-centered history. Deeply researched across four continents and cogently argued, it is a book that will have lasting value for students of the United States and the 19th-century world.”
    The Bancroft Prize is awarded annually by the trustees of Columbia University. Winners are judged in terms of the scope, significance, depth of research, and richness of interpretation they present in the areas of American history and diplomacy. There were 135 books considered for the 2015 prize.
    Commentary on the Beckert book was listed in an earlier Exchange posting.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Over the Counter: Issue No. 13

Edward Balleisen of Duke University will be taking over the directorship of the BHC's Doctoral Colloquium beginning with the 2016 meeting. Instituted in 2005 with JoAnne Yates as director, the Colloquium has been led for many years by Pamela W. Laird of the University of Colorado Denver. 

Joanne Bailey reviews Andrew Popp's Entrepreneurial Families (Pickering & Chatto, 2012) on her blog, "Joanne Bailey Muses on History"; readers should also check the comments section for further discussion.

Since its inauguration a few months ago, Who Makes Cents: A History of Capitalism Podcast, has posted nine interviews; next up is Kimberly Phillips-Fein on April 1.

Long-time BHC member Ross Thomson died on February 12, 2015. He received his Ph.D. in economics from Yale University in 1976 and was for many years professor of economics at the University of Vermont. An obituary has been posted by the university.

William Dalrymple has written an extended essay on the British East India Company for The Guardian: "The East India Company: The Original Corporate Raiders." 

Bernardo Bátiz-Lazo has a long article in The Atlantic on "A Brief History of the ATM," drawing on his research for Cash Box: The Invention and Globalization of the ATM (2013).

The Organization of American Historians has established a new blog on topics in American history, called "Process." In a recent post, Heather Lee, a post-doctoral fellow at MIT, discusses her Brown University dissertation, "Entrepreneurs in the Age of Chinese Exclusion: Transnational Capital, Migrant Labor, and Chinese Restaurants in New York City, 1850-1943.”

The History of Capitalism Initiative at Cornell University has made available all the lectures in its on-line course, "American Capitalism: A History," available on iTunes at no charge.

The supplement to volume 46 of the journal History of Political Economy is a special issue on "MIT and the Transformation of American Economics." Full access requires a personal or institutional subscription, but the abstracts and the editor's introduction are freely available.

Mark your calendars: the International Economic History Association has announced that the 2018 World Economic History Congress (WEHC) will be held in Boston, Massachusetts--the first time in fifty years that the meeting will be held in the United States.

Viveka Hansen, a textile historian and independent scholar who publishers the blog Textilis, has posted an interesting commentary on the fur trade in North America as described by a mid-eighteenth century traveler, Pehr Kalm. An index to her blog posts can be found here.

Robert MacDougall, a professor of American history at Western University in London, Ontario, was recently a guest on NPR's All Tech Considered, part of a program entitled "Long Before Net Neutrality, Rules Leveled the Landscape for Phone Services."

Friday, March 27, 2015

Social History Society Conference Program Available

The Social History Society will hold its conference next week, March 31-April 2, at the University of Portsmouth. The meeting is the largest gathering of social and cultural historians in the UK.
    Conference topics are divided into "strands." All include papers of interest, though the two most relevant here are "Economies, Culture, & Consumption" and "Political Cultures, Policy & Citizenship." The full program can be found on the conference website as a pdf. The plenary lecture will be given by Jonathan Hyslop on the topic "Navigating Empire: Ports, Ships, and Global History."
    For those who wish to follow the conference on social media, the Twitter hashtag is #portsocialhist.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Richard John on Tom McCraw in the BHR

Readers will be interested in a review essay by Richard R. John, to be published in the Business History Review and currently available online as a free access article at the CUP website. Entitled "Prophet of Perspective: Thomas K. McCraw," the essay uses McCraw's last book, The Founders and Finance: How Hamilton, Gallatin, and Other Immigrants Forged a New Economy (2012), as a focus for understanding his scholarship overall. As John explains,
This essay provides a brief survey of McCraw’s ideas about economic policy and capitalism. Other reviewers might have chosen different themes; possibilities include the relationship between the United States and the world, the advantages and disadvantages of biography as a literary form, and even the contrasting aesthetics of history and social science. Even so, I believe that the two I have chosen provide a revealing perspective on McCraw’s most abiding concerns. This essay has three parts. The first part provides a brief overview of McCraw’s intellectual milieu; the second part surveys his contributions to our understanding of economic policy and capitalism; and the third part shows how in The Founders and Finance McCraw combined his interests in economic policy and capitalism to reinterpret a pivotal event in the American past.
Richard R. John is a professor of history and communications at Columbia University. He is a long-time member and past president of the Business History Conference. His most notable books are Network Nation: Inventing American Telecommunications (2010) and Spreading the News: The American Postal System from Franklin to Morse (1995). He is currently working on a history of anti-monopoly in the United States from the eighteenth century to the present.

Monday, March 23, 2015

BHC-EBHA 2015 Meeting Draft Program Posted

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 preliminary program has now been posted on the meeting website. In addition to pre-meeting workshops, plenaries, receptions, and organized local activities in Miami, the conference will feature 88 regular sessions on topics broadly spanning the field of business history.       
     This will be the fourth joint meeting of the Business History Conference and the European Business History Association.

Friday, March 20, 2015

CFP: Association of Academic Historians in Australian and New Zealand Business Schools

AUT Business School
The Association of Academic Historians in Australian and New Zealand Business Schools (AAHANZBS) will hold its seventh Annual Conference on November 2-3, 2015 in Auckland, New Zealand. The Business and Labour History Group (B&LHG) of the Work Research Institute, Auckland University of Technology (AUT) University Business School will host the meeting, which will have the theme "Global Business Practices in Historical Perspective"

Submissions are invited for papers addressing the conference theme, including papers relating to accounting history, business history, economic history, labor history, management history, marketing history, tourism history, transport history and other areas of interest relating to historical research in business schools. Papers / panel suggestions around teaching and pedagogy relating to business and labor history are also welcome, as are papers from researchers outside business schools who have an interest in these fields of study. Both abstracts and full papers may be submitted. Full papers will be published in the conference proceedings. Please submit either a 1000-word abstract or a 6,000-word maximum paper for refereeing by June 12, 2015, to Simon Mowatt at The abstract should provide:
  • A summary of the argument of the paper 
  • A summary of the findings of the paper 
  • A selected list of references for the paper 
Postgraduate Student Awards: The B&LHG is pleased to be able to offer up to four competitive travel support awards for Postgraduate Students of NZ$250 each plus free registration. These will be awarded to the best full papers as decided by the AAHANZBS conference committee. Details of these awards, including conditions and eligibility, will be published in April on the conference homepage.

Please check the full call for papers for additional information.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Job Opening: Curator for Business History at the NMAH

The National Museum of American History (NMAH) at the Smithsonian Institution has announced a search for a curator of business history. This is a new full-time permanent position, classified GS-13 ($90,823.00 to $118,069.00). The museum is looking for a business historian with curatorial experience (with a history of technology, public history, and social history perspective more than an economic history cliometrician). Ideally the candidate will have an interest in expanding collections and preparing exhibitions as well as a record of academic publications and speaking. The emphasis will be on U.S. history post-World War II. One major responsibility will be continuing to build on the opportunities offered by the upcoming American Enterprise exhibition. The expectation is that the individual will work with active companies, so the ability to undertake oral history projects and archival collecting as well as artifact collecting will be important.
    The full job description can be found here; the closing date for applications is April 10, 2015.
    Questions may be directed to Peter Liebhold at the NMAH.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Web Resources: Women's History Month

March is Women's History Month, so we set out below a few of the many on-line resources available, particularly those with relevance to business and economic history:

US government sources organized and linked

The Museum of American Finance has posted on-line some materials from its "Women of Wall Street" exhibit.

One of the themes at FRASER, the Federal Reserve's historical archives, is "Women in the Economy."

Cambridge University Press is providing open access for the month to a large collection of articles related to women in history, includingwork by Sara Evans, Angel Kwolek-Folland, Ann Carlos and Larry Neal, and Margaret Walsh.

The National Women's History Museum has several on-line exhibits, including "Entrepreneurial Women" and "Women in Industry."

Wells Fargo has a web exhibit on "Women Making Financial History."

HSBC has an exhibit series on "Women in Banking," beginning with 1907-1914.

One of many websites that focus on women in early computer history, from Ada Lovelace to Grace Cooper: NPR on "The Forgotten Female Programmer."

Similarly, The Ada Project at Carnegie Mellon University supplies brief biographies of women connected to computing.

Famous Women Inventors provides biographies of a group of women inventors, as does the Smithsonian's Lemelson Center essay, "Innovative Lives."

Finally, for a long list of links to websites connected to women in business history, readers might want to check out the BHC's WiBH resource page.

Monday, March 9, 2015

CFP: “Doing Business across Borders”

The Center for the History of Business, Technology, and Society at the Hagley Museum and Library in Wilmington, Delaware, will hold on conference on "Doing Business across Borders" on November 6, 2015.
     The Center invites proposals for original papers on the way business activities (broadly conceived) have forged connections across the boundaries of nations, colonies, and empires. The papers should be historical and rely on empirical research to locate these episodes in discrete places and times, and preferably trace multidirectional relationships generated in the process of crossing borders. Business activities may include the movement of goods, services, ideas, capital, technology, and people, and include commercial diasporas organized around ethnicity, religion, or family; entrepreneurship; multinational firms; illicit practices (e.g. smuggling and piracy); family businesses and networks; and state-chartered entities. Scholarship developed under the rubric of globalization is welcome, especially if such proposals engage with scholarly critiques of this concept. Papers may consider any area of the world after 1700.
     Possible topics may include:
  • transfers of business models and practices, such as bookkeeping, scientific management, decentralized firm structures, conceptually as well as empirically addressing what has moved 
  • transitions in size and scale, and/or changes in organizational complexity and practices 
  • role of oceans, ports, harbors, rivers, and lakes; 
  • commercial hubs and hinterlands; obstacles and opportunities created by landscapes and geography; and other analytic frames for considering the role of business forging cross-border relationships 
  • the durable nature of borders, boundaries, and barriers and the challenges entailed in surmounting them 
  • connections between seeming antinomies, e.g. international firms and home production; unfree labor systems and reliance on wage labor; knowledge-based commodities with routinized manufacturing; democratic societies and dictatorships 
  • persistence of obstacles and barriers to business activity as well as their effacement in law and practice
  • business activities and labor markets for which borders are irrelevant 
Proposals may be up to 500 words, and should include a summary of the paper’s argument, the sources on which it draws, and the scholarship with which it engages. Work must be original and not previously published. A short c.v. or resume should accompany the proposal. The deadline for receipt of all materials is June 1, 2015; submissions should be sent via email to Carol Lockman, Presenters will receive travel support to cover most costs to attend the conference.

Friday, March 6, 2015

March 2015 Enterprise & Society Now Available

Beginning with the March 2015 issue, Enterprise & Society has both a new editor and a new publisher: Andrew Popp of the University of Liverpool assumes the editorship; the journal is now published by  Cambridge University Press. Readers who are Business History Conference members may access journal content from the BHC website when they are logged in. The table of contents for the March issue includes:
Daniel Levinson Wilk, "The Red Cap's Gift: How Tipping Tempers the Rational Power of Money"
Robert Crawford, "Relocating Centers and Peripheries: Transnational Advertising Agencies and Singapore in the 1950s and 1960s"
Emre Balikçi, "Turkey’s Small Capital, A Player from the Start: Relations with the State and Big Capital"
Gabriel Winant, " 'Green Pastures of Plenty from Dry Desert Ground': Nature, Labor, and the Growth and Structure of a California Grape Company"
David M. Higgins and Mads Mordhorst, "Bringing Home the 'Danish' Bacon: Food Chains, National Branding and Danish Supremacy over the British Bacon Market, c. 1900-1938"
The issue also contains an introduction from editor Andrew Popp.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

CFP: Business History Special Issue on East Asian Businesses in Europe

Guest editors Hinrich Voss, Sierk Horn, and Jeremy Clegg, all of the University of Leeds, have issued a call for submissions for a special issue of Business History on "The Evolution of Embeddedness and Adaptation of East Asian Businesses in Europe." According to the call for papers,
The influx of East Asian enterprises into Europe has a long history. Japanese business engagements in Europe stretch back for over more than 100 years and have, in this period, constantly evolved and adapted. Early Taiwanese investments date back to the 1950s and Korean firms have explored European markets since the mid-1970s, when car manufacturer Daewoo opened its first trading office in Germany. Foreign direct investment (FDI) by multinational firms often plays a key role in the economic development of host nations by enhancing human capital, conferring technology spillovers, and competitiveness  – and the evidence is that Japanese, Korean, and Taiwanese investments have benefited European host countries. . . . Analysing and comparing how Chinese investors, and investors from other East Asian nations, have approached and developed in Europe over time will yield important insights for scholarly understanding and for practitioners in European and other host countries. Contributions are invited to investigate how and to what extent East Asian firms in Europe have evolved, while adapting to a different institutional context and embedding in the local economies.
     For suggested topics, submission guidelines, and a fuller discussion of the subject, please see the complete call for papers.
     Manuscripts should be submitted online at no later than May 31, 2015.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Web Resource: FRASER

The Federal Reserve Archival System for Economic Research (FRASER) was created in 2004 as a data preservation and accessibility project of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. FRASER’s mission is to safeguard and provide easy access to economic history—particularly the history of the Federal Reserve System. The site contains a very large selection of historical materials; one easy point of entry is the "Browse by Theme" section. In addition to materials pertaining to each Federal Reserve bank, topics include "Depressions and Panics," "Gold, Silver, and Greenbacks," and "Women in the Economy." The site also contains a collection of the primary sources used by Allan Meltzer for his History of the Federal Reserve and a Finding Aid for Record Group 82, the Records of the Federal Reserve System at the National Archives. One can also browse by title, author, or date.
    Those wishing to receive notices about FRASER materials can subscribe to two different RSS feeds and a newsletter, or access the FRASER Twitter feed.