Abstract: An "organized attempt": William Sellers and Philadelphia's Research and Development Complex, 1864-1900

Domenic Vitiello


Industrialists in nineteenth-century Philadelphia built a complex of institutions that together shaped research and product development, education, and public policies that gave their region a legitimate claim to the title “workshop of the world.” Networks of firms, technical societies, trade associations, social reform groups, and university departments united manufacturing, mercantile, and financial capitalists as well as government officials in promoting their mutual interests in national and international markets. This paper follows the city's leading machine builder, William Sellers, and his colleagues through a variety of institutional forums in which they cultivated social capital and connections to support the goals of industrial capital.