The Exchange: The BHC Weblog

Cornell University History of Capitalism Summer Camp

The application deadline is May 1, 2021. The form to submit your application is available here.


In the 20 years since Avon Products, Inc., deposited its records at Hagley Library they have become one of our most popular research collections. A virtual event on May 7 will bring attention to their contribution to history.

Avon Products, Inc., is one of the oldest direct selling companies in America. It traces its origins to 1886, when David H. McConnell bought the Union Publishing Company and started manufacturing perfumes to give away with his books. McConnell discovered that his customers were more interested in the fragrances than the books, so he decided to concentrate on selling perfumes. The business was renamed the California Perfume Company (CPC) in an effort to associate its products with the perceived beauty of the Golden State.

From the beginning, CPC sold directly to the consumer through a national network of sales representatives, primarily women, who were looking for economic opportunity and flexible part-time employment. In 1929, CPC introduced the Avon brand in an effort to modernize its image. The corporation was renamed Avon Products, Inc. in 1950. Avon rapidly expanded into the international market during the 1950s and 1960s, principally Latin America and Europe. By the early 1970s, Avon International operated in sixteen countries.

Speakers at the event will come from around the USA and Europe and discuss Avon’s activities in the United States, Brazil, and Italy, as well as its efforts to reach out to African American women and diversity its American salesforce. The event’s keynote will be offered by Katino Manko, who helped bring the Avon Collection to Hagley. Manko’s book, Ding Dong! Avon Calling!: The Women and Men of Avon Products, Incorporated will be published in June.

The conference will be presented online. Each author has shared a paper relating to their presentation that those registered for the conference may view. Advance registration is required to view the pre-circulated papers and to participate in the conference sessions; there is no fee to register. The presenters retain full copyright of their papers and presentations. These materials may not be cited or quoted, or circulated for course use or any other purpose, without the express written permission of the author.  The conference is organized by Hagley’s Center for the History of Business, Technology, and Society.

Friday May 7, 9 am – 12 noon EST via Zoom


Jessica Burch, “Soap and Hope”: Direct Sales and the Culture of Work and Capitalism in Postwar America

Jessica Chelekis, Avon in the Brazilian Amazon: Direct Sales and Consumption among Vulnerable Communities

Lindsey Feitz, Creating a Multicultural Soul: Avon, Corporate Social Responsibility, and Race in the 1970s

Shawn Moura, Exploring Avon's Encounter with Gender, Race, and Class in Brazil, 1958-1975

Emanuela Scarpellini, Transnational Beauty: Avon International and the Case of Italy


Please join me in congratulating the winners of the Mira Wilkins Prize;

  • Paolo di Martino, Mark Latham & Michelangelo Vasta, ‘Bankruptcy Laws around Europe (1850-2015): Institutional Change and Institutional Features’, Enterprise & Society 21: 4 (December 2020), 936-990.
The committee, formed by Asli M. Colpan (Kyoto University, Japan), Rory M. Miller (University of Liverpool, UK), and Manuel Llorca-Jaña (Universidad de Valparaíso, Chile) "decided to award the prize to this paper for a number of reasons. The foundation for it is a large database of bankruptcy and insolvency laws which the authors have constructed, covering thirty European countries over 165 years; the data is fully detailed in the appendices to the paper. On this basis the authors have produced a properly comparative paper demonstrating how the legal provisions surrounding insolvency changed markedly over the period, yet differed significantly among countries, for example on who had the right to initiate proceedings, and the extent to which the law encouraged attempts to safeguard the business as a going concern. Legal provisions regarding insolvency were fundamental to the institutional environment within which business operated, yet the subject has largely been neglected. This paper is ambitious, and sheds considerable light on law and practice in Europe over a long period. It will thus be of interest not only to European business historians, but also to legal historians and those examining the construction of European nation-states during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries."
The committee also gave an honorable mention to:
  • 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 (2020), 453-493.
  • Jessica Ann Levy, ‘Black Power in the Boardroom: Corporate America, the Sullivan Principles, and Anti-Apartheid’, Enterprise & Society 21: 1 (2020), 170-209.
To learn more about the Mira Wilkins Prize please click here.

Please join me in congratulating the winner of the Herman E. Krooss Prize for Best Dissertation in Business History;

  • Dylan Gottlieb (Princeton University), for his 2020 dissertation, “Yuppies: Young Urban Professionals and the Making of Postindustrial New York.”

This year, the committee was chaired by Heidi Tworek (University of British Columbia), and also included Pierre-Yves Donzé (Osaka University) and Gerardo Con Díaz (University of California, Davis). 

The committee decided "unanimously to award the 2021 Herman E. Krooss Prize to Dylan Gottlieb for his work entitled “Yuppies: Young Urban Professionals and the Making of Postindustrial New York.” Gottlieb’s dissertation explores how the influx of financial workers changed New York City from the 1970s to the 1990s. That demographic came to be known colloquially as “yuppies” or “young professionals.” The dissertation takes the category of “yuppies” seriously to understand “how young professionals remade the city, and how it in turn remade them,” as Gottlieb puts it. Each thematic chapter of the dissertation examines a seemingly familiar phenomenon like the Zagat restaurant guide or the marathon, uncovering how particular notions of yuppies’ behavior and habits shaped urban life, while also disadvantaging others such as low-income workers driven out of their homes to make space for yuppie residences in Hoboken, New Jersey. Gottlieb demonstrates brilliantly how business history can combine a cohort study with urban history, oral history, labor history, and cultural history. Finally, the dissertation was compellingly written, filled with a fine eye for fascinating detail. Once you read Gottlieb’s analysis of the rise of Zagat restaurant guides, you will never forget that their size was designed to fit into a yuppie’s suit pocket. We congratulate Dylan Gottlieb on writing an important new work in the field of business history."

For more information on the Herman E. Krooss Prize for Best Dissertation in Business History click here.

Please join me in congratulating the winners and finalists of the Hagley Prize;

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).

Visit our website to learn more about this prize and previous winners.

Business History in Times of Disruption: Embracing Complexity and Diversity

Annual Meeting of the Business History Conference

Sheraton Mexico City María Isabel Hotel

Ciudad de México, México

April 7-9, 2022

The Covid-19 crisis arrived with little warning, disrupting global business and trade. Industries as different as tourism, retail, and manufacturing were plunged into disarray by travel restrictions, broken supply chains, and quarantines. The pandemic also underscored the growing dangers posed by economic inequality and environmental degradation, hinting at a more tumultuous future. We have, it seems, entered into a new age of uncertainty.

Informed by these developments, the 2022 Business History Conference will explore the diverse ways that entrepreneurs, firms, and organizations coped with complexity, uncertainty, and disruption over the long run. The Program Committee welcomes individual papers and session proposals that explore this theme. Submissions can address a host of topics: the historical challenge posed by complexity and uncertainty; the stories told about periods of turbulence, disruption and chaos; the ways that disruptions have engendered adaptation and resilience in different times and places; and any number of related subjects.

The Program Committee is especially interested in sessions and papers that contribute to a more inclusive, global, and pluralistic vision of business history. For example, submissions could address diverse geographic locales and time periods; analyze the different ways that race, class, and gender have affected the ability of entrepreneurs and firms to survive and thrive in previous eras of uncertainty; address the role of governments, politics, and power in deciding winners and losers in tumultuous times; and any number of similar subjects. Finally, the organizers welcome proposals with innovative formats that promote discussion on how to conduct research and teach business history in the so-called post-pandemic era.

While we encourage submissions to take up these themes, papers addressing all other topics will receive equal consideration by the program committee in accordance with BHC policy. Graduate students and emerging scholars in the field are particularly encouraged to attend. Graduate students and recent PhDs whose papers are accepted for the meeting may apply for funds to partially defray their travel costs; information will be sent out once the program has been set.

The Program Committee includes Stephen Mihm (University of Georgia) (co-chair); Paloma Fernández Pérez (Universitat de Barcelona) (co-chair); Gustavo del Angel (Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas, CIDE); Christy Chapin (University of Maryland); Ai Hisano (Kyoto University, 京都大学, Kyōto daigaku); Chinmay Tumbe (Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad, IIMA); along with BHC President Andrea Lluch (CONICET and Universidad de los Andes).

Proposals and Submissions

Proposals may be submitted for individual papers or entire sessions. Each presentation proposal should include a one-page (300 words) abstract and one-page curriculum vitae (CV) for each participant. Individual paper submissions will be combined into new sessions defined by themes chosen at the Program Committee’s discretion.

Session proposals (unless a roundtable) should include a maximum of four individual presentations. All session proposals should have a cover letter containing a title, a one-paragraph session description, and the names and affiliations of a recruited chair, as well as the contact information for the session organizer.

To submit a proposal, go to

For the second time, the BHC annual meeting will include two or three sessions with Spanish and Portuguese presentations to encourage the participation of colleagues from Latin America. In addition, the second edition of the Workshop on 'Latin American Business in a Global and Historical Perspective' will be organized on April 7th, co-organized with the Mexican Economic History Association. A separate Call for Papers for this Workshop will be circulated later. In the meantime, for more details about this special event, contact the AMHE at:

The deadline for receipt of all paper and session proposals is October 1, 2021. Notification of acceptance will be given by November 15, 2021. Information on registration and fees for participation and the provisional program will be announced at the beginning of February 2022. Everyone appearing on the program must register for the meeting. 

Hotel Venue and the Coronavirus Situation

The BHC Conference 2022 will take place at the Sheraton Mexico City Maria Isabel Hotel (  Special rates for standard rooms are $145 single/double occupancy, and deluxe rooms are $175 single/double plus tax.

Of course, we cannot yet determine if it will be possible for us to gather in Mexico City. We will closely follow the Coronavirus Disease situation. If necessary, we will switch to an online (or hybrid) mode in order to guarantee safe participation from presenters around the world.

General questions regarding the BHC's 2022 annual meeting may be sent to conference coordinator Roger Horowitz,


The K. Austin Kerr Prize will be awarded for the best first paper delivered by a new scholar at the annual meeting. A "new scholar" is defined as a doctoral candidate or a Ph.D. whose degree is less than three years old. You must nominate your paper for this prize on the proposal submission page where indicated. Please check the appropriate box if your proposal qualifies for inclusion in the Kerr Prize competition. 

The BHC awards the Herman E. Krooss Prize for the best English-language dissertation in business history by a recent Ph.D. in history, economics, business administration, history of science and technology, sociology, law, communications, and related fields. To be eligible, dissertations must be completed in the three calendar years immediately prior to the 2022 annual meeting and may only be submitted once for the Krooss prize. After the Krooss committee has reviewed the proposals, it will ask semi-finalists to submit copies of their dissertations. Finalists will present summaries of their dissertations at a plenary session and will receive a partial subsidy of their travel costs to the meeting. Proposals accepted for the Krooss Prize are not eligible for the Kerr Prize. If you wish to apply for this prize, submit a cover letter, dissertation abstract, and author's c.v., using this form: The deadline for proposals for the Krooss prize is October 1, 2021.

The Martha Moore Trescott Award is awarded to the best paper at the intersection of business history and the history of technology presented at the Business History Conference's annual meeting. The prize will be awarded on the basis of the written version of a paper to be presented at the annual meeting. Those wishing to be considered for the prize must indicate so at the time of submitting their original proposal for the meeting. Self-nominating scholars must also provide the written paper to the Chair of the committee not less than one month before the annual meeting. Though the prize will be awarded on the basis of the written paper, candidates must register for the meeting and present their work. Scholars who are eligible for the Kerr Prize may also enter the Trescott Prize. There are no other restrictions on eligibility. Written papers should be no longer than 4,000 words (exclusive of notes, bibliography, appendices, figures, and illustrations).

Doctoral Colloquium in Business History  

The Doctoral Colloquium in Business History will be held in conjunction with the BHC annual meeting. This prestigious workshop, funded by Cambridge University Press, will occur in Mexico City (April 7th). Typically limited to ten students, the colloquium is open to early-stage doctoral candidates pursuing dissertation research within the broad field of business history, from any relevant discipline. Topics (see for past examples) may range from the early modern era to the present and explore societies across the globe. Participants work intensively with a distinguished group of BHC-affiliated scholars (including at least two BHC officers), discussing dissertation proposals, relevant literatures and research strategies, and career trajectories. Typically, participants receive partial stipends to defray the costs of travel to the annual meeting.

Applications for the doctoral colloquium are due by Monday, November 15, 2021, via email to Carol Lockman ( and should include: a statement of interest; CV; preliminary or final dissertation prospectus (10-15 pages); and a letter of support from your dissertation supervisor (or prospective supervisor). Questions about the colloquium should be sent to its director, Prof. Eric Godelier ( Applicants will receive notification of the selection committee's decisions by Monday, December 20, 2021.

Your Archive is an Asset!

 Using your heritage as a corporate strategic asset 

24 March 2021

12.00 - 13.00 CET

eabh zoom meeting

eabh in conversation (on zoom) with Anders Sjöman (Centre for Business History in Stockholm)

Discover how to convince your institution that it should keep its historic materials in a professional archive – and also set aside budgets for it.

Register now to ensure your slot:  

More details available at:  

Call for Papers-Special Issue, Business History "Business and Finance in Latin America: From the Oil Shock to the Debt Crisis"

Since the 2008-9 financial crisis, Latin America has experienced a period of sluggish economic activity and increasing levels of external debt. In a world of low interest rates, the liquidity injected into the US and European banking systems flew over into Latin American economies as global demand dropped and commodities prices crashed downwards. The boom of private and public indebtedness over the past decade has increased the economic and financial vulnerabilities of a region that has historically been dependent on international trade and exposed to external shocks such as the current pandemic. In a context where governments have stepped in to offset the impact of the coronavirus crisis, debt levels are now approaching the peak seen during the international debt crisis of the 1980s, raising fears amongst policymakers and business leaders of new defaults and another “lost decade”.

The Special Issue “Business and Finance in Latin America: From the Oil Shock to the Debt Crisis” aims to bring new insights into the current debates by looking at how local and foreign entrepreneurs, financiers and state actors reacted to, and dealt with, the unstable economic and political context that preceded and followed the outbreak of the international debt crisis of 1982.

The scholarship on the business history of Latin America has expanded markedly over the last three decades. The number of historical studies of firms and entrepreneurship in the region grew considerably and covers a large variety of topics, such as foreign investment, multinational enterprises (MNEs) diversification strategies, family-based economic groups, business connections with social and political elites, and sectors or industries, namely trade, banking, mining, transport, agricultural and manufacture. However, while the bulk of these research has concentrated on firms that dominated before 1914 and the interwar and post-World War II years, the turbulent period of the 1970s and 1980s has received much less attention. Indeed, little is known about how the multiple crises that the region experienced in these years affected the way firms and entrepreneurs ran their businesses and overcame their debt and financial difficulties. The reasons why some companies disappeared while others survived and new ones entered the Latin American market has not yet been explored.

This Special Issue will contribute to filling this gap and provide new light on how the economic, financial, and political crises affected industries and business organizations operating in the region. To that end, the guest editors Carlo Edoardo Altamura (Graduate Institute, Geneva) and Sebastian Alvarez (University of Zurich/University of Oxford) welcome contributions and interdisciplinary research from scholars who use historical methods and original or primary sources to explore:

  • The behaviour and business strategies of financial and non-financial companies in the run-up to, and the aftermath of, the 1982 financial fallout.
  • The impact of the debt crisis and the responses of MNEs and domestic firms in Latin America.
  • The way that national and international companies managed economic and political risk in the region during the 1970s and 1980s.
  • How business actors coped with foreign debt, inflation, and the uncertainties unleashed by changing government policies and crises during the 1970s and 1980s.
  • The effects of the debt crisis and economic and structural reforms on state-business and domestic-foreign capital relationships.
  • The long-term outcomes of the crisis and the reorientation of businesses in line with the neoliberal policies of Latin American politics.

Please send your proposals as an extended abstract (max 2000 words) to the guest editors (; specifying the research question, methodological approach, sources, and main contribution to the literature. The deadline for the submission is April 15, 2021. Selected authors will be required to submit full papers by June 2022. Submitted papers will be subject to peer review according to BH publication procedure.

Register to attend the event 

See the #BHC2021online program

Thursday, March 11th

Roundtables, 10:00am - 11:00am

  • An International Collaboration of Business Historians: Female Entrepreneurs in the Long Nineteenth-Century, A Global Approach
  • British Entrepreneurship
  • From Glass-Steagall to the Volcker Rule: Examining the Regulatory Regimes in the Changing US Banking Industry
  • Making Sense of Digital Sources

Online Showcases, 11:00am - 7:00pm

Opening Social Networking Event, 11:15am - 1:00pm

Concurrent Sessions 1, 1:30pm - 2:45pm

  • Session a: Labor Control as Management Strategy
  • Session b: Black Consumers, Black Entrepreneurs, and Economic Justice in the Twentieth-Century United States
  • Session c: Branding and Image-Building in the United States, c.1830-1910

Concurrent Sessions 2, 3:00pm - 4:15pm

  • Session a: Las Empresas de la Europa Mediterránea y de Iberoamérica en el Siglo XX. Lecciones de la Historia Empresarial ante los Retos del Futuro
  • Session b: Local, Regional, and Global Approaches to the Political Economy of Commodity Money, 16th-19th Centuries
  • Session c: Methodological Workshop: Business History and Environmental Standards after 1960
Friday, March 12th

Concurrent Sessions 3, 9:00am - 10:15am

  • Session a: Money and Politics in Early America
  • Session b: Notes on Monetary Governance in Nineteenth Century America
  • Session c: The Politics of Individualized Risk Management
  • Session d: U.S.-China Collaboration, 1800-2000

Concurrent Sessions 4, 10:30am - 11:45am

  • Session a: Organization in Agriculture
  • Session b: Monetary Systems
  • Session c: Competition, Cartels, and Monopolies
  • Session d: Ethics and Morality and the Making of Business

Krooss Dissertation Plenary, 2:00pm - 3:30pm

Early Career Networking Session, 3:45pm - 6:00pm

Saturday, March 13th

Concurrent Sessions 5, 9:00am - 10:15am

  • Session a: Institutions of Family Capitalism
  • Session b: Identity and Subjectivity in Business
  • Session c: Publishing and Literature
  • Session d: Methodologies in Business History

Concurrent Sessions 6, 10:30am - 11:45am

  • Session a: Professions and Elites
  • Session b: Rules and Relationships
  • Session c: El futuro de las empresas en tiempos de crisis: ¿qué nos enseñan los empresarios del siglo XX? El caso de España
  • Session d: State Enterprise and Technology

Concurrent Sessions 7, 2:00pm - 3:15pm

  • Session a: Enterprise, Politics, and the State
  • Session b: Technology and Innovation
  • Session c: Transport and Travel
  • Session d: Uses of the Past
  • Session e: Entrepreneurial Drivers in Time

Presidential Address, 4:00pm - 5:15pm

Presidential Reception and Awards Ceremony, 5:30pm - 8:00pm


These grants support one-week visits by scholars who believe that their project will benefit from Hagley research collections, but need the opportunity to explore them on-site to determine if a Henry Belin du Pont research grant application is warranted. Priority will be given to junior scholars with innovative projects that seek to expand on existing scholarship. Proposals must demonstrate which Hagley collections might be pertinent to the project.

Applicants should reside more than 50 miles from Hagley, and the stipend is $400. Low-cost accommodations on Hagley's grounds are available on first-come, first serve basis. Researchers who use this housing are strongly encouraged to have a car available for transportation during their residency.

Deadline March 31, 2021

All application materials must be submitted in the order below in one PDF file through the online link as indicated.

Please include the following materials:

  • Project abstract (maximum length: 150 words)
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Project description indicating the scope of your research and the existing scholarship with which you engage (maximum length: 1000 words).
  • Summary of the Hagley research materials that you plan to consult during your residency and how you believe that they may be pertinent to your project (maximum length: 500 words).

Please email any questions to Dr. Roger Horowitz,