Friday, March 30, 2018

Digital Resources: Chicago, Burlington & Quincy RR at the Newberry and CARLI

The Newberry Library in Chicago has announced a major revision to its policy regarding the re-use of collection images: "images derived from collection items are now available to anyone for any lawful purpose, whether commercial or non-commercial, without licensing or permission fees to the library." (Note, however, that "users remain responsible for determining whether material is in the public domain, whether it is protected by copyright law or other restrictions, or whether a particular activity constitutes fair use.")
     This news should encourage researchers to explore the 1.7 million high-resolution Newberry images currently available online.  One place to start is the digital exhibit, "CB&Q: Building an Empire." Additional CB&Q materials are available at the Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Illinois (CARLI) site, where one will find "Daily Life along the Chicago, Burlington, & Quincy Railroad," based on materials from the Newberry. Even more images can be found by searching the whole CARLI collection by topic--for example, "Technology and Industry."

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

CFP (Book): “Buying and Selling the Civil War”

Caroline E. Janney of Purdue University and James Marten of Marquette University have issued a call for proposals for essays for an anthology with the working title “Buying and Selling the Civil War.” Each essay will provide a case study of a product, experience, or idea related to remembrance of the war; of products acknowledging the outcomes of the war; or of products marketed specifically to Americans who participated in the war (veterans, for instance, or widows). According to the editors:
Authors will be asked to identify not only the products being marketed and consumed, but also the meaning of those products: How did sellers “pitch” their products, and what did buyers believe they were buying? Among the possibilities are status and recognition in their communities; a sense of redemption for war-time failures; ways to connect family histories to national history; forms of investment in the future; ways to recover from war-time traumas; hopes of making a political statement. 
Although the time period to be covered is generally the Gilded Age, the editors will consider a broader time period. Essays will be limited to 6,000 words (before notes). Authors will be encouraged to provide one or two illustrations for each essay.
     Proposals should include a one-page abstract and a brief CV and should be sent to no later than May 15, 2018. First drafts of selected essays will be due in early 2019. Please direct queries to or
    For more details, please see the full call for proposals.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Online Resource: Digital Hagley

The Hagley Digital Archives site contains an enormous amount of curated material on a wide variety of topics. From the American Brewer trade journal, to "History of Kevlar" oral history interviews, to "Photographs and ephemera on the history of fatty materials," to Lukens Steel Company photographs, to U.S. Chamber of Commerce videos, holdings spread across the field of business history and encompass all media types. In many cases, not all of the materials in a collection have been digitized, but the user is provided with links to descriptions of the full collection, and, if one exists. to a finding aid. Within finding aids, digitized materials are linked back to the Digital Archives.
    In addition to the materials organized at Hagley Digital Archives, the Library has developed many focused web exhibits based on its holdings; a list can be found here.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Digital Resource: DPLA Exhibit on the Erie Canal

Detail from "View on the Erie Canal" (1830-32) by John William Hill. Courtesy of the New York Public Library.
The Digital Public Library has recently released a new exhibit, "Two Hundred Years on the Erie Canal." Curated by Heidi Ziemer and Dan Ward of the Western New York Library Resources Council, in partnership with the Empire State Digital Network, the web exhibit offers commentary by the curators as well as illustrations of the site's themes, which include construction, commerce, culture, and several more.
    Readers looking for more information might like to visit the "Erie Canal" site maintained by Frank E. Sadowski, Jr.; he has collected a massive amount of useful material--maps, images, documents, and links to other sites.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Digital Resource: New York Slavery Records

On February 1, 2018, the John Jay College of Criminal Justice released the New York Slavery Records Index, an online database containing more than 35,000 records. The database is a searchable compilation of records that identify individual enslaved persons and their owners, beginning as early as 1525 and ending during the Civil War. The data come from census records, slave trade transactions, cemetery records, birth certifications, manumissions, ship inventories, newspaper accounts, private narratives, legal documents, and many other sources. The index will continue to grow as the team of John Jay College professors and students locates and assembles data from additional sources.
    The site is accompanied by several essays, as well as a video introduction that explains the compilation and uses of the database; there are also detailed search instructions and explanations of the tags and data sources. The faculty co-directors of the project are Judy-Lynne Peters and Ned Benton.

Monday, March 19, 2018

CFP: African Economic History Network Annual Meeting

The African Economic History Network (AEHN) will hold its next annual meeting at the University of Bologna, Italy, on October 12-13, 2018. The theme of the meeting will be "Transitions in African Economic History." Papers on all aspects of African economic history are welcome, but preference will be given to those that pertain to the conference theme. Abstracts of 500 words should be submitted to no later than May 15, 2018.
    A small number of grants will be available for graduate students and faculty from Africa; those submitting proposals who would like to be considered should indicate that in their submission.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Historical GIS: Urban Transition Project

The Urban Transition Historical GIS Project uses historical census data to document the state of U.S. cities from the end of the nineteenth century into the early twentieth century. The site explains that "These were the decades of America’s urban transition, fed by rapid growth of industry and large-scale immigration from Eastern and Southern Europe that was directed primarily into cities. In 1880 nearly half of total employment was in agriculture, but this share dropped to about 25% by 1920, and by this time about half of the population lived in urban areas." Using the North American Population Project's 100% digital transcription of records from the 1880 Census, the "Urban Transitions" project has developed several additional resources to make possible analysis of social patterns at the level of individuals and households while also taking into account information about their communities.
    Although the site is technical, both in the descriptions of data sources and in the GIS tools used, anyone can use the web-based interactive map for 1880, for which a brief user guide is supplied.
     The ongoing project is directed by John Logan, professor of sociology at Brown University.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Over the Counter: Issue No. 39

Some notes on items of interest from around the Web:
JSTOR Daily is a site that presents short essays on topics derived from journal articles in its database. Some recent examples relevant to business historians:
"How Consumerism Sold Democracy to Postwar Germany"
"How 17th-Century Unmarried Women Helped Shape Capitalism"
"Madeira, the Island That Helped Invent Capitalism"
"Sex and the Supermarket"

Diana Heredia López’s exhibit using the Florentine Codex, "Of Merchants and Nature," focuses on Nahua agave, cotton, figs, and gourds and the fabrics and containers they engendered,

The History Channel cites George Robb's Ladies of the Ticker (University of Illinois Press, 2017) in a brief article titled "Decades Before They Had the Vote, Women Launched Their Own Stock Exchange" 

Unhappy news for business historians in the wake of last fall's Santa Rosa fires: More than 100 boxes of writings, correspondence, speeches and other items of William Hewlett and David Packard were completely lost when the building that contained them burned to the ground at Keysight Technologies. Keysight traces its roots to HP and acquired the archives in 2014 when its business was split from Agilent Technologies.

Sexing History is a podcast exploring how the history of sexuality shapes our present; it is co-hosted by Gillian Frank and Lauren Gutterman with production and editing by Rebecca Davis. Several episodes deal with the history of sexuality in business situations, including one on flight attendants and another on the Mark Eden "bust developer" business.

"Before Economics" is a podcast series about the history of political economy. The host is Ryan Walter, senior lecturer in political economy at the University of Queensland. The index of podcasts to date is here.

The National Railway Museum in York, UK, has a web exhibit on the history of railway safety since 1913. The material is based on the research of Mike Esbester, who writes about how he grew interested in the topic on the museum's blog.

The full conference on "The Rise of the Newspaper in Europe and America, 1600-1900," held at the Huntington Library last October, is available as a podcast on Soundcloud. (The print program is available here.)

Shane Hamilton has an essay on "Why Supermarket Power Matters" on the "Processed Foods" blog.

Roger Horowitz is the 2018 recipient of the Pogue Award from OHMAR (Oral History n the Mid-Atlantic Region) for his "outstanding and continuing contributions to oral history."

The "Merchant Fleet of Late Medieval and Tudor England, 1400-1580" database contains the details of English, Welsh, and Channel Islands merchant ships, and the voyages they undertook, between 1400 and 1580. The database was compiled using evidence from customs accounts, naval records, and ship surveys.

George Mason University has made available the program for the recent conference celebrating "The Life and Legacy of Douglass North."

Interesting website (in French): "Des Femmes qui Comptent" (About Women Who Count). This is a blog (and accompanying Twitter and Facebook accounts), done in partnership with BNP Paribas, that explores the history of women's working lives and rights through documents and testimony of those in the banking and financial sector.

At the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University, a "Map of of the original grants of village lots from the Dutch West India Company to the inhabitants of New-Amsterdam." This cadastral map shows property lots with dimensions, names of owners, and year of grant (1642-1658).

From Vincent Geloso at the libertarian blog "Notes on Liberty," a list (with commentary) of "The Best Economic History Papers of 2017."

The History of Finance Network aims to "facilitate an international and interdisciplinary exchange on financial history and the culture of finance." It posts news of scholarship, conferences, and other materials of interest to the community; it is currently looking for folks willing to write for its blog.

The New York Public Library has recently digitized the letterbooks of Collin MacGregor, a Scottish New York City merchant acting on behalf of Loyalist or British businessmen in Nova Scotia, Great Britain, and elsewhere in the late eighteenth century. Digital files are linked here.

Benjamin Waterhouse published an article on "Business and Protest Culture, 1960s-1980s" in the Spring 2017 issue of Financial History, the magazine of the Museum of American Finance.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Three Journal CFP: Business History

The journal Business History is planning a number of special issues; there are currently three calls for manuscript submissions:

1. Bank-Industry versus Stock Market-Industry Relationships: A Business History Approach (submission deadline: March 31, 2018) Guest editors are José L. García-Ruiz and Michelangelo Vasta. The articles initially selected for this special issue will be presented in a workshop that will take place in Madrid in June 2018; the final selection of papers will be the result of this workshop.

2. Business-Government relations and national economic models: how do varieties of capitalism emerge and develop over time? (submission deadline: April 30, 2018) The guest editors are Niall MacKenzie, Andrew Perchard, Neil Forbes, and Christopher Miller.

3. Noblemen-Entrepreneurs in the Nineteenth Century: Investments, Innovation, Management and Networks (submission deadline: May 31, 2018) The guest editors are Silvia A. Conca Messina and Takeshi Abe.

Each of these calls (linked above) includes a full explanation, pertinent bibliography, and submission instructions. Readers can find the overall editorial rationale for special issues here.

Friday, March 9, 2018

CFP: Business History Society of Japan 2018

The 54th Congress of the Business History Society of Japan (BHSJ) will be held in Kyoto on September 29-30, 2018. The theme of the meeting will be "Merging Methods and Approaches: History, Social Science and Business Historians." To further enhance international exchange, the BHSJ organizes English sessions every two years, which will take place concurrently with the regularly scheduled Japanese sessions at the annual meeting. According to the call for papers:
In Japan, business history was institutionalized at faculties of social science, and so the use of social scientific concepts and inquiries became an essential element of the discipline, fostering a rich tradition of detailed empirical studies in business and industrial history. However, in recent decades, as a result of the institutionalization of business history as its own discipline, the dialog with social scientists has subsided somewhat. The 2018 international session offers the opportunity to consider the current use of methods and approaches that are applied in our discipline across the globe, and to contemplate the future prospects and direction of our field. By bringing together the latest research on various topics within business history we hope to generate a fruitful discussion on the significance and limitations of social scientific methodologies and concepts.
      The BHSJ welcomes papers on a range of topics, geographical regions, and time periods; both individual papers and full panel proposals are solicited. The deadline for submissions is April 15, 2018. Please consult the meeting website for additional information. Please direct any inquiries to When posted, the conference website will be

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Winter Edition: Business Historians in the News

Links to business and economic historians in the news:
The PBS "American Experience" episode on the Gilded Age features many scholars from the business history community: among others, Steve Fraser, Susie Pak, Richard John, Julia Ott, Noam Maggor, and Richard White. For the transcript of historians' commentary, see here.

A Boston Review forum titled "To Remake the World: Slavery, Racial Capitalism, and Justice" features an essay by Walter Johnson and several responses from a number of historians, including Caitlin Rosenthal, who asks "How does the history of slavery look if we make more use of the language of capitalism?" The entire forum is open access.

In a recent essay for the "Humanities Moments" blog of the National Humanities Center, Edward J. Balleisen writes about "Story-Making and the Fault Lines of American Capitalism."

In a contribution to Bloomberg View, Stephen Mihm discusses toll roads: "Privatizing Roads Was a Great Idea. Not Anymore."

For the Washington Post's "Made by History" series, Elizabeth Tandy Shermer considers "The Toxic Practice Fueling the Fierce Competition over Amazon's Headquarters." [Note: these essays are behind a paywall, but the list of essays in the series is open.]

And in another Washington Post entry, Benjamin Waterhouse has just published a review of Adam Winkler's We the Corporations: How American Businesses Won Their Civil Rights (Norton, 2018).

On the "History of Knowledge" blog, Josh Lauer writes about "Economic Personae: The Making of Financial Identity in America."

In a post on The Atlantic website, Joshua Clark Davis looks at "The FBI's War on Black-Owned Bookstores."

Also on The Atlantic site, "How 'Citizen Housewives' Made Food Cheaper and Safer," an interview with Emily Twarog, author of Politics of the Pantry: Housewives, Food, and Consumer Protest in Twentieth-Century America (Oxford University Press, 2017).

Commemorating Alexander Hamilton's birthday at the Museum of American Finance, Richard Sylla discusses "Alexander Hamilton and Fiscal Responsibility" on C-Span.

"The Hemmings Daily" (a classic car blog) excerpted a section of Katherine Parkin's Women at the Wheel: A Century of Buying, Driving, and Fixing Cars (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2017). The book won the Popular Culture Association's Emily Toth Award for the best single work in Women's Studies in 2017.

An "Atlas Obscura" article on "Finding the Unexpected Wonder in More Than 22,000 International Standards" quotes Craig Murphy, who adds information from his and Joanne Yates' The International Organization for Standardization (ISO): Global Governance Through Voluntary Consensus (Routledge, 2009) and their ongoing research.

Last fall, Louis Hyman spoke to policymakers in Washington, D.C., in a briefing sponsored by the National History Center. The session focused on "how technological innovation is transforming work, and how insights from the past inform responses to the 21st-century wave of automation." The briefing is now available on C-Span.

Monday, March 5, 2018

CFP: Hagley Conference: “Seeing Like a Capitalist”

A call for proposals has been issued for “Seeing Like a Capitalist: Histories of Commercial Surveillance,” a conference sponsored by the Center for the History of Business, Technology, and Society to be held on November 8–9, 2018, at the Hagley Museum and Library. According to the convenors:
we invite proposals that explore the history of commercial surveillance in the United States, from settlement to the present. These (non-state) surveillance activities might be found in a variety of business settings and industries, involve a range of formal or informal practices, and might be directed at customers, media audiences, borrowers, consumer markets, employees, or labor. The long history of commercial surveillance serves to illuminate the precursors, continuities, and logic of today’s “surveillance capitalism.”
The conference was initiated by Josh Lauer (University of New Hampshire), and he is joined on the program committee by Roger Horowitz (Hagley Museum and Library) and Ken Lipartito (Florida International University). Proposals of no more than 500 words and a one-page CV should be submitted to Carol Lockman at by May 1, 2018.
      Sarah E. Igo (Vanderbilt University) will open the conference with a keynote address on the evening of November 8. She will discuss her new book, The Known Citizen: A History of Privacy in Modern America, to be published by Harvard University Press in May 2018.
     For more details, please see the complete call for proposals.

Friday, March 2, 2018

New Books of Interest: Winter 2018 Edition

A listing of books of interest to business and economic historians, published in January and February  2018 (plus a few earlier titles we missed):
Alexander Charles Baillie, Call of Empire: From the Highlands to Hindustan (McGill-Queen's University Press, November 2017)

Sven Beckert and Christine Desan, eds., American Capitalism: New Histories  (Columbia University Press, 2018)

Gillian Cookson, The Age of Machinery: Engineering the Industrial Revolution (Boydell and Brewer,  February 2018) [straight to paper]

William Deringer, Calculated Values: Finance, Politics, and the Quantitative Age (Harvard University Press, February 2018)

Robert Hunt Ferguson, Remaking the Rural South: Interracialism, Christian Socialism, and Cooperative Farming in Jim Crow Mississippi (University of Georgia Press, January 2018)

Margot Finn and Kate Smith, eds., The East India Company at Home, 1757-1857 (University College London Press, February 2018)

Joshua B. Freeman, Behemoth: A History of the Factory and the Making of the Modern World (W. W. Norton, February 2018)

Allan Greer, Property and DispossessionNatives, Empires and Land in Early Modern North America (Cambridge University Press, January 2018)

Per H. Hansen, Danish Modern Furniture, 1930-2016: The Rise, Decline and Re-emergence of a Cultural Market Category (University Press of Southern Denmark, February 2018)

Gerard Helferich, Unlikely Trust: Theodore Roosevelt, J.P. Morgan, and the Improbable Partnership That Remade American Business (Rowman & Littlefield [Lyons Press], January 2018)

Thomas K. McCraw and William R. Childs, American Business since 1920: How It Worked, 3rd ed. (Wiley, November 2017)

Dana E. Powell, Landscapes of Power: Politics of Energy in the Navajo Nation (Duke University Press, January 2018)

Jonathan Rees, Before the Refrigerator: How We Used to Get Ice (Johns Hopkins University Press, February 2018)

Susan Rose, The Wealth of England: The Medieval Wool Trade and Its Political Importance, 1100–1600 (Oxbow Books, February 2018)

William T. Rowe, Speaking of Profit: Bao Shichen and Reform in Nineteenth-Century China (Harvard University Press, January 2018)

Shomari Wills, Black Fortunes: The Story of the First Six African Americans Who Escaped Slavery and Became Millionaires (Harper Collins [Amistad], January 2018)

Adam Winkler, We the Corporations: How American Businesses Won Their Civil Rights (W. W. Norton, February 2018)