The Exchange: The BHC Weblog

The April 2010 issue of Historically Speaking has a forum on the state of the field of economic history.  The lead essay, "Is Economic History a Neglected Field of Study?" by Robert Whaples of Wake Forest University, is followed by responses from Philip T. Hoffman, Deirdre N. McCloskey, Joel Mokyr, and Werner Troesken, with a reply from Whaples. The entire forum is available through Project Muse or via subscription, but the Historical Society blog has a brief introduction from each essay.

The April 12, 2010, issue of The Chronicle Review discusses Beauty Shop Politics: African American Women's Activism and the Beauty Industry, by Tiffany Gill of the University of Texas, Austin. As the reviewers comment:

Again and again in Beauty Shop Politics, the reader is reminded that the hairdressing profession gave women the security to pursue political activity. . . . Gill takes her subject matter from antebellum to contemporary times and considers it through multiple lenses. The scope of the material and interdisciplinary scholarship evident throughout the book makes Beauty Shop Politics a comprehensive addition to the bookshelves of women's studies, African-American studies, and entrepreneurial studies, as well as to history, business, and political-science departments. It is a truly interdisciplinary endeavor.

The full article is available only through personal or library subscription.

Update: An interview with Professor Gill discussing her research at an early stage in 2004 is available on the University of Texas, Austin, website.

Crisis Economics: A Crash Course in the Future of Finance, by Nouriel Roubini and BHC member Stephen Mihm of the University of Georgia, is reviewed in the "Books of the Times" section of the May 7 New York Times. An excerpt from the book is provided.

The latest number of the on-line journal Common-Place is a special issue on "Hard Times." As Cathy Matson writes in her essay on "Flimsy Fortunes":

Americans' fascination with making their dollars grow through paper speculating, and their fortunes and failures resulting from it, has been a subject of scholarly interest for a long time. Historians have chronicled credit and investment schemes beginning in the late-colonial years and continuing in every era of American history. In the two hundred years between the Revolution and the 1980s, over a dozen episodes of overextended credit or speculative frenzies grew into full-fledged financial panics, some followed by years of depression.

The richly illustrated issue includes:

Michael Zakim
The Best of Times and the Worst of Times

Thomas Augst
A Drunkard's Story

Edward E. Baptist
Toxic Debt, Liar Loans, and Securitized Human Beings

Oz Frankel
Hard Facts for Hard Times

Pierre Gervais
A Game of Claims and Expectations

Roy Kreitner
When Banks Fail

Jessica Lepler
Pictures of Panic

Noam Maggor
Hard Times
[An essay on "Bubbles, Panics, & Crashes: A Century of Financial Crises," Baker Library Historical Collections, HBS]

Cathy Matson
Flimsy Fortunes

Sharon Ann Murphy
"Doomed … to eat the bread of dependency"?

Jonathan Prude
Images of Want

A brief listing of new and forthcoming books of interest to business and economic historians:

Tracey Deutsch, Building a Housewife's Paradise: Gender, Politics, and American Grocery Stores in the Twentieth Century (University of North Carolina Press, May 2010; ISBN 9780807833278);
 Richard R. John, Network Nation: Inventing American Telecommunications (Harvard University Press, May 2010; ISBN 9780674024298);
James R. Fichter, So Great a Profitt: How the East Indies Trade Transformed American Capitalism (Harvard University Press, May 2010; ISBN 9780674050570);
Mara L. Keire, For Business and Pleasure: Red-Light Districts and the Regulation of Vice in the United States, 1890–1933 (Johns Hopkins University Press, Spring 2010; ISBN 9780801894138);
Ann Carlos and Frank D. Lewis, Commerce by a Frozen Sea: Native Americans and the European Fur Trade (University of Pennsylvania Press,  May 2010; ISBN 9780812242317).

A call for papers has been issued for a workshop to be held at the German Historical Institute in Washington, D.C., on February 18-19, 2011: "Going Global: Internationalization Pathways for Family Firms during the 19th and 20th Century." The conveners are Christina Lubinski (Harvard Business School, GHI), Paloma Fernández Pérez (Universitat de Barcelona), and Jeff Fear (University of Redlands). The conference will focus on family businesses as international actors, gathering an international group of scholars to discuss the various strategies and pathways for internationalization that family businesses pursued during the nineteenth and twentieth century. Paper proposals (two pages maximum) are welcome for all sessions from both young and established scholars from different countries and disciplines, including business history, economic history, economics, sociology and psychology. Each session is devoted to international comparative studies that will identify and evaluate internationalization pathways in different family businesses and countries. Proposals should include an abstract of the paper and a curriculum vitae in English and should be submitted by July 1, 2010. For a complete discussion of possible topics and submission information, please see the call for papers on the GHI site.

The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History has made its archive of more than seventy podcasts freely available, though users must register and sign in on the GLI website. Talks of particular interest to business historians include:

David M. Kennedy, on the Great Depression and World War II
Jean Strouse, on J. P. Morgan
Edward Ayers, on Slavery and the Early American Economy

For a full list of available podcasts, visit:

The April 2010 Industrial and Corporate Change is a special issue, guest edited by William Lazonick and David Teece, titled "Management Innovation: Essays in the Spirit of Alfred D. Chandler, Jr." A partial table of contents includes:

David J. Teece

“Alfred Chandler and ‘Capabilities’ Theories of Strategy and Management”

William Lazonick

“The Chandlerian Corporation and the Theory of Innovative Enterprise”

Richard R. Nelson and David J. Teece

“A Discussion with Richard Nelson on the Contributions of Alfred Chandler”

Sidney G. Winter and David J. Teece

“A Conversation with Sidney Winter on the Contributions of Alfred Chandler”

Louis Galambos

“The Role of Professionals in the Chandler Paradigm”

David C. Mowery

“Alfred Chandler and Knowledge Management within the Firm”

Mary A. O’Sullivan

           “Finance Capital in Chandlerian Capitalism”

For full information, see the issue's table of contents page at the Oxford University Press journals site.

The Journal of Historical Research in Marketing has issued a call for papers for a special issue focused on the history of Canadian marketing. Topics include:
* Canadian marketing history
* Periodization in Canadian marketing
* How Canadian economic and business history shaped Canadian marketing
* The impact of marketing boards, reports of Royal Commissions, Canada-US trade controversies
* Marketing and the Canadian household — changes over time
* Advertising history in Canada
* Retailing history in Canada
The submission deadline for this special issue is October 30, 2010, with an expected publication date of August 2011. For full details, see the journal's Website.


Tip of the hat to Andrew Smith's blog.

In honor of Earth Day, some links to work by business historians on environmental history:

Christine Meisner Rosen and Christopher Sellers, Introduction to Business History Review special issue on business and the environment (Winter 1999);

Christine Meisner Rosen, "Doing Business in the Age of Global Climate Change," Enterprise & Society special issue (June 2007) (subscription required to view full text);

Nature Incorporated: Business Historians and Environmental Change (German Historical Institute).

See also:
Harriet Ritvo, The Dawn of Green: Manchester, Thirlmire, and Modern Environmentalism (University of Chicago Press, 2009);
Richard Judd, The Untilled Garden: Natural History and the Spirit of Conservation in America, 1740-1840 (Cambridge University Press, 2009).

H-Business, the BHC's H-Net-affiliated email list, has recently appointed Tracey Deutsch of the University of Minnesota as its new Reviews Editor.  Professor Deutsch would be happy to hear from business and economic historians interested in reviewing for the list; please send an email outlining your areas of expertise to her at