Friday, March 19, 2021

What's New in Economic History

 If you want to get some idea of what's new in economic history check out the program for the NBER Development of the American Economy Program's Spring Meeting

(contains links to papers and presentation slides)


the program for the annual meeting of the Economic History Society


(contains links to abstracts)

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Congratulations to Nominees and Winners of Business History Conference Prizes


Hagley Prize

The prize is awarded jointly by the Hagley Museum and Library and the Business History Conference to the best book in business history (broadly defined).


2021 Recipients

·         Marcia Chatelain, Franchise: The Golden Arches in Black America (WW Norton: 2019).

·         Ben Marsh, Unravelled Dreams: Silk and the Atlantic World, 1500–1840 (Cambridge: 2020).


2021 Finalists (in alphabetical order)

·         Marcia Chatelain, Franchise: The Golden Arches in Black America (WW Norton: 2019).

·         Jennifer Delton, The Industrialists: How the National Association of Manufacturers Shaped American Capitalism (Princeton: 2020).

·         Jan de Vries, The Price of Bread: Regulating the Market in the Dutch Republic (Cambridge: 2019).

·         Zachary Dorner, Merchants of Medicine: The Commerce and Coercion of Health in Britain’s Long Eighteenth Century (Chicago: 2020).

·         Paige Glotzer, How the Suburbs were Segregated: Developers and the Business of Exclusionary Housing, 1890–1960 (Columbia: 2020).

·         Joshua R. Greenberg, Bank Notes and Shinplasters: The Rage for Paper Money in the Early Republic (University of Pennsylvania: 2020). 

·         Suzanne L. Marchand, Porcelain: A History from the Heart of Europe (Princeton: 2020).

·         Ben Marsh, Unravelled Dreams: Silk and the Atlantic World, 1500–1840 (Cambridge: 2020).

·         Brandon K. Winford John Hervey Wheeler, Black Banking, and the Economic Struggle for Civil Rights (Kentucky: 2019).

·         Wendy A. Woloson, Crap: A History of Cheap Stuff in America (Chicago: 2020).


Ralph Gomory Prize

This prize, made possible by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, recognizes historical work on the effects of business enterprises on the economic conditions of the countries in which they operate. 


2020 recipient: 

·         Suzanne L. Marchand, Porcelain: A History from the Heart of Europe. Princeton University Press, 2020


Herman E. Krooss Prize

The prize recognizes the best dissertation in business history written in English and completed in the three calendar years immediately prior to the annual meeting.


2020 recipient: 

·         Dylan Gottlieb (Princeton University), “Yuppies: Young Urban Professionals and the Making of Postindustrial New York” 


Philip Scranton Best Article Prize

This prize recognizes the author of an article published in Enterprise & Society judged to be the best of those that have appeared in the volume previous to the year of the BHC annual meeting.


2021 recipient: 

·         Karin Lurvink, “The Insurance of Mass Murder: The Development of Slave Life Insurance Policies of Dutch Private Slave Ships, 1720–1780,” Enterprise & Society  21: 1 (March 2020).


2021 honorable mention: 

·         Jennifer Delton "Who Tells Your Story: Contested History at the NAM,” Enterprise & Society  21: 1 (March 2020).

·         Caleb Wellum, "Energizing Finance: The Energy Crisis, Oil Futures, and Neoliberal Narratives,” Enterprise & Society  21: 1 (March 2020).


Mira Wilkins Prize

This prize, established in recognition of the path-breaking scholarship of Mira Wilkins, is awarded to the author of the best Enterprise & Society article pertaining to international and comparative business history published the volume previous to the year of the BHC annual meeting. 


2021 recipient: 

·         Paolo di Martino, Mark Latham & Michelangelo Vasta, “Bankruptcy Laws around Europe (1850-2015): Institutional Change and Institutional Features,” Enterprise & Society 21: 4 (December 2020).


2021 honorable mention: 

·         Emily Buchnea, “Bridges and Bonds: The Role of British Merchant Bank Intermediaries in Latin American Trade and Finance Networks, 1825-1850,” Enterprise & Society, 21: 2 (June 2020).

·         Jessica Ann Levy, “Black Power in the Boardroom: Corporate America, the Sullivan Principles, and Anti-Apartheid,” Enterprise & Society 21: 1 (March 2020).


K. Austin Kerr Prize

The prize recognizes the best first paper delivered at the annual meeting of the Business History Conference by a new scholar (doctoral student or those within three years of receiving their Ph.D). It honors K. Austin Kerr, longtime professor of history at the Ohio State University and former president of the Business History Conference.


2021 Recipient:

Jiemin Tina Wei (Harvard University), “Amazon Mechanical Turk: Methodological Innovation in an Evolving Labor Market”


Martha Moore Trescott Prize

The Martha Moore Trescott Prize recognizes the best paper at the intersection of business history and the history of technology presented at the annual meeting of the Business History Conference.


2021 recipient: 

Fabian Prieto-NaƱez (Virginia Tech), “Disrupting National Infrastructures: Satellite Television, Informal Trade, and Suitcase Entrepreneurs in the Caribbean in the 1980s” 


2021 honorable mention: 

Sarvnaz Lotfi (Duke University), “The Stock Market and the Space Age: R&D Assetization and the Quest for Certainty”


Saturday, March 6, 2021

Historians and Economic Historians in Conversation


The video of Historians and Economic Historians in Conversation from Economics for Inclusive Prosperity is now available. The conversation includes Trevon Logan, Jonathan Levy, Suresh Naidu, Gavin Wright, Caitlin Rosenthal and Shari Eli is available now.

My brief summary is that historians and economists should try to communicate more even when it is difficult. Communication would be easier if historians learned more about quantitative analysis and economists spent more time in archives.

I also liked Shari Eli’s observation about the loss of context in much of economic history. I remember Doug North describing economic history as telling a story constrained by theory and evidence, and I sometimes think that economist economic historians have become so focused on getting the theory and the evidence right that they forget to tell a story. We write about the economics of slavery, and banking, and railroads, but give much less attention to bringing these studies together into an overarching story.

Eli suggests that economists should write more books. I have heard Price Fishback make a similar argument. Price has tried to promote this through the Markets and Governments in Economic History series that he edits for the University of Chicago. I know that our overriding goal in the book that we wrote for that series Bankrupt in America, was to not just get the theory and the evidence right but to tell a story about the history of bankruptcy in the 20th century United States. 

Personally, I think people also need to avoid blanket criticism of other people’s disciplines. If you haven’t found valuable work done by economists, sociologists, political scientists, anthropologists, and historians it is because you are not looking.

By the way if you are looking for interesting social science from a wide variety of disciplines Broadstreet Blog provides a really nice example.


Finally, a rod of warning. The video cuts out with Caitlin Rosenthal in mid-sentence.


Thursday, March 4, 2021

Reviews of Bankrupt in America


 The latest issue of Economic History Review has a nice review of our book by Rowena Olegario. Here is the beginning


Here is the review at by Mary Tone Rodgers.