Abstract: Business at the Margins of Capitalism: Charles H. Kerr and Company and the Progressive Era Socialist Movement
Although historians typically view the history of social protest as discrete from business history, small business enterprises, especially in the publishing industry, have served significant roles in social movements since the American Revolution. Many professional activists were, contrary to conventional wisdom, business people. The goods and services that they sold just happened to be meant to overthrow the status quo. In this essay, I explore the business of social protest through a case study of Charles H. Kerr and Company, a Chicago-based publisher that specialized in disseminating radical literature for the socialist movement.