The Exchange: The BHC Weblog



Harper's Weekly, Sept. 7, 1867

Baker Library Historical Collections, Harvard Business School, announces the opening of a new exhibition, “Buy Now, Pay Later: A History of Personal Credit.” The exhibit will run from October 22, 2010, through June 3, 2011, in the North Lobby, Baker Library | Bloomberg Center, Harvard Business School. The physical exhibit is accompanied by on-line examples and resources.

“Buy Now, Pay Later: A History of Personal Credit” demonstrates that, although the instruments and institutions of twenty-first century credit—the installment plan, the credit card, and the home finance industry—are less than a century old, credit itself is as old as commerce. The exhibition draws from Baker Library’s Historical Collections materials to show how previous generations devised creative ways of lending and borrowing long before credit cards or mortgage backed securities.

Please contact Baker Library Historical Collections to request a copy of the exhibition catalog.

The just-announced program for the American Historical Association annual meeting, to be held January 6-9, 2011, in Boston, includes several sessions of direct interest to business and economic historians:

Session 28: Global Markets and Local Communities: Social Histories of International Business
Session 52: Local Markets/ Marketing the Local: American Retailing, 1920 to the Present
Session 106: Rethinking Advertising in the 1960s and 1970s: A Roundtable on African American Consumers and the Soul Market
Session 107: Advertising, Global Concepts of Hygiene, and the Making of Disciplined Consumers, 1918-45
Session 242: Making Capitalism Sacred: The Image of Business in the American Mind
EHA Session: Wealth, Poverty, and Empire in Global History: Reflections on Kenneth Pomeranz's The Great Divergence: China, Europe, and the Making of the Modern World Economy

Also of interest are Session 140, Challenges in Transnational Research: A Conversation about Methods, chaired by Colleen Dunlavy, and Session 289, Technology and Agency: Objects, Spaces, and Bodies, for which the commentator is Philip Scranton. The session listings provide links to abstracts of the papers.


A symposium on "Business and Trade Organizations in Europe: Early Stages, Historic Forms and Structures, XIX-XXth Centuries" will be held June 9-10, 2011, at both the University of Paris 13 and the University of Paris 1 Sorbonne. The aims of the symposium are to study the genesis, historic forms, and structures of trade and business organizations in Europe.

Preferred topics or paper submission are expected to address the following themes:
Roots, early stages, and specific frameworks underlying business and trade organizations. What strategies have been adopted for the promotion and defense of entrepreneurs and managers (unions, professional societies, chambers and trade organizations, clubs, miscellaneous groups, etc.)?  In what historical context, for what reasons, and where (local or nationwide)? Have these organizations been driven and/or curbed by ideological, social, political, or judicial actions? Speakers are encouraged to adopt a comparative perspective covering both time and space and to cover failures as well as successes.

Paper proposals, including the title and a summary accompanied by a short CV (in French or English), must be sent no later than November 10, 2010, to danielefraboulet@wanadoo.fr and clotilde.druelle-korn@unilim.fr.

For complete information, please see the call for papers at the AFHé website.

Thanks to a generous donation from a member, Section L (History & Philosophy of Science) of the American Association for the Advancement of Science will offer a limited number of Philip Morrison fellowships for graduate students studying history or philosophy of science and technology who are presenting posters at the association's next annual meeting in Washington, DC, February 17-21, 2011 (http://www.aaas.org/meetings/).

October 25 is the deadline to submit poster proposals at http://aaas.confex.com/aaas/2011/poster/cfp.cgi/. The grant is to defray costs of travel, lodging, and registration up to $500.  Highest preference will be given to graduate students who are presenting posters or otherwise on the program; secondary preference will be given those who serve as session aides at the meeting (see http://www.aaas.org/meetings/2011/ts/aides.shtml).

To apply, send a CV, a statement of support from your advisor, and a brief statement about why attending this meeting would benefit your program of study, to Jonathan Coopersmith, Secretary, Section L, AAAS, j-coopersmith@tamu.edu.  The deadline for grant applications is December 1.  Notification of awards will be made by December 15.

Proposals are now being accepted for the 36th annual conference of the Economic and Business Historical Society (EBHS), to be held at the Hyatt on Capitol Square in Columbus, Ohio. Proposals for presentations on any aspect of economic or business history are welcome. The EBHS conference offers participants an opportunity for intellectual interchange within a collegial interdisciplinary group of scholars from around the world (a typical mix of participants includes around half from economics departments and half from history/economic history departments).This year’s keynote speaker will be Richard Steckel (Ohio State University).

Papers presented at the conference may be submitted for consideration by the EBHS’s peer-reviewed journal, Essays in Economic and Business History, edited by Janice Traflet (Bucknell University).

The society seeks proposals for individual papers and/or for panel sessions. Proposals should include an abstract of no more than 500 words, a brief curriculum vita, postal and email addresses, and telephone and fax numbers. Panel proposals should also suggest a title and a panel chair. Submissions are welcome from graduate students and non-academic affiliates.

Proposals may be submitted online using the form on the EBHS page, by email to: ebhs2011@gmail.com, or via mail to: Ranjit Dighe, 2011 EBHS Program Chair, Department of Economics, Mahar Hall, SUNY-Oswego, Oswego, NY 13126. The deadline for submission of proposals is January 10, 2011.

The Princeton University Library has digitized a number of posters from the Interborough Rapid Transit Subway Company. The posters, designed by the public relations firm Ivy Lee, were displayed in subway cars to provide information to riders about changes in fares and routes, safety issues, and other matters of interest.  The collection consists of 385 images dating from 1918 to 1932; many of them provide financial information about rates, company dividends, and a general look at an early rapid transit system.

October 29, update: Jonathan Rees over at "More or Less Bunk" was moved by this post to go off in search of a better site, and found the massive collection of the London Transport Museum, which displays over 5,000 items in a searchable collection.

The Special Collections Department of the Albin O. Kuhn Library and Gallery at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, has digitized 4,735 images from the work of famed photographer Lewis Hine, The Lewis Hine Collection contains images from his work with the National Child Labor Committee (NCLC), which asked him to document the circumstances of child labor throughout the United States; Hine worked for the NCLC off and on between 1907 and 1934.  In the words of the UMLB description:

Lewis Hine, c. 1930, 10-year-old
shoeboy. Lewis Hine Collection,
UMBC Kuhn Library.

[Hine] traveled from Maine to Texas documenting children working in factories, mines, mills, farms, and in street trades. He photographed their living conditions as well. The photographs were published in newspapers and magazines, as well as mounted on posters for NCLC conventions. His photographs did not embellish the child laborers’ destitution, and instead showed accurate and poignant depictions of their circumstances. Hine’s photographs were influential in changing public opinion about child labor and subsequently in the passing of legislation to protect children with stricter labor laws. . . . His child labor photographs have proven to be his most important work, because they document irrefutably the difficult circumstances suffered by young workers. These approximately 5,000 images are the most extensive known photographic record of child labor.

Many university presses provide podcast audio interviews with their authors, several of them featuring business historians.  One company, Heron & Crane, operates a podcast series on business and management topics called "The Invisible Hand" (most of their audios are free, but some require a payment  of $1.99 to download).  A sampling from their (free) offerings and others:

Steve Fraser, Wall Street: America's Dream Palace
Harold James, The Creation and Destruction of Value: The Globalization Cycle
Pamela Walker Laird, Pull: Networking and Success since Benjamin Franklin
Thomas McCraw, Prophet of Innovation: Joseph Schumpeter and Creative Destruction
Stephen Mihm, A Nation of Counterfeiters: Capitalists, Con Men, and the Making of the United States
David Nye, When the Lights Went Out: A History of Blackouts in America
Andrew Sandoval-Strausz, Hotel: An American History
Bryant Simon, Everything but the Coffee: Learning about America from Starbucks
David Suisman, Selling Sounds: The Commercial Revolution in American Music
Detail from Czechoslovakia, 50 korun, 1929 (front). Designed by Alfons Mucha, engraved by Karel Wolf. Collection of Vsevolod Onyshkevych.
(Princeton University Numismatic Collection)

Those planning to be in the Princeton area this year might want to visit the new exhibit from the Princeton University Numismatics Collection, housed in the Rare Books and Special Collections Department of the Firestone Library. "Money on Paper: Bank Notes and Related Graphic Arts" will run from August 30, 2010, through January 2, 2011. In the words of the exhibit announcement, "Bank notes . . . have constituted one of the dominant forms of visual communication for the past two centuries, and in many cases can be seen as works of art in their own right."

In addition to information provided on the exhibit website, more analysis can be found in Princeton's news release for the exhibit's opening.

For those interested in the history of currency and coins, several websites may be of interest:
The Colonial Currency Web Exhibit, from Notre Dame
The Leslie Brock Center for the Study of Colonial Currency, at the University of Virginia
Roy Davies' Money—Past, Present, & Future

The National Archives and Records Administration has launched a new tool, designed primarily for teachers, "Docs Teach."

RCA Victor radio chassis
assembly line, Camden, N.J., 1937
Drawing of Improved Boot, 1867.
Patent and Trademark Office

The site contains over 3,000 primary source items, including written documents, images, maps, charts, graphs, audio, and video. The materials are arranged by period, including, for example, "The Development of the Industrial United States" and "The Great Depression and World War II." There is a free registration function, allowing  users to save selected materials and to use teaching tools such as "Making Connections," which allows teachers to "arrange a set of documents to show the progression of historical events and help students understand relationships among events," "Mapping History," which allows users to link primary sources to locations on a map, and "Interpreting Data."