The Exchange: The BHC Weblog

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

The 2010 Pulitzer Prize for History has been awarded to Liaquat Ahamed for Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the World (The Penguin Press)--in the words of the Committee, "a compelling account of how four powerful bankers played crucial roles in triggering the Great Depression and ultimately transforming the United States into the world’s financial leader."  The Prize in Biography or Autobiography was awarded to T. J. Stiles for The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt (Alfred A. Knopf, 2009) for  "a penetrating portrait of a complex, self-made titan who revolutionized transportation, amassed vast wealth and shaped the economic world in ways still felt today." Lords of Finance was also named a Business Book of the Year in 2009, while The First Tycoon won the 2009 National Book Award. The two books have been widely reviewed; see here for Ahamed and here for Stiles.

Business history was amply represented at the recently concluded Organization of American Historians' meeting in Washington, DC.  In addition to specific single papers, several sessions in particular will be of interest: "State of the Field: The History of Capitalism," moderated by Bethany Moreton, University of Georgia, featured discussion by Sven Beckert, Harvard University; Colleen A. Dunlavy, University of Wisconsin, Madison; Seth Rockman, Brown University; and Julia Ott, New School University. "The Commerce of Social Change: Business, Consumer Culture, and American Politics, 1950-1980," included papers by Rob Goldberg, University of Pennsylvania; Nicolaas Mink, University of Wisconsin, Madison; and Alex Cummings, Vassar College, and commentary by Susannah Walker, Virginia Wesleyan College.“Strive and Succeed”; Or, Taking Alternative Routes to American Respectability" was chaired by Pamela Laird, University of Colorado, Denver, with commentary provided by Scott Sandage, Carnegie Mellon University; presenters were Wendy Gamber, Indiana University; Jocelyn Wills, Brooklyn College, City University of New York; and Will Cooley, Walsh University.

NEP is an announcement service that filters information on new additions to Research Papers in Economics (RePEc) into edited reports; many BHC members are familiar with the list edited by Bernardo Batiz-Lazo of the University of Leicester, who aggregates the subset of papers in Business, Economic, and Financial History (NEP-HIS). He has now created a NEP-HIS blog, in which he chooses one paper from among recent listings as a topic for discussion. The current paper is "Multinational Strategies and Developing Countries in Historical Perspective," by Geoffrey Jones of the Harvard Business School.

At its recent meeting, the Business History Conference awarded the Hagley Prize for the best book in business history to David Suisman, for his Selling Sounds:The Commercial Revolution in American Music (Harvard University Press, 2009). You can read or hear an interview with Suisman about the book on American Public Media's Marketplace.

Bethany Moreton of the University of Georgia has won the Frederick Jackson Turner Prize of the Organization of American Historians for her book, To Serve God and Wal-Mart: The Making of Christian Free Enterprise. Professor Moreton was a member of the local arrangements committee for the 2010 BHC meeting in Athens, Georgia.

The Centre for Regulation and Market Analysis at the University of South Australia in Adelaide will be holding its first business history conference on July 7-9, 2010. The CRMS describes the conference as a forum to showcase the latest in business history research from distinguished scholars currently studying the field. Plenary speakers, whose names will be familiar to many BHC members, include Joost Dankers, Susanna Fellman, Leslie Hannah, Will Hausman, Philip Scranton, and John Wilson. For more information, please visit the CRMS conference website.

The topic of the January 2010 issue of the OAH Magazine of History is “Business History.” As former BHC president Pamela Laird suggests in her foreword, readers might consider “how familiar the world of business—including advertising—is to students and yet how rarely we think about that subject in historical terms.” Articles include:

Bringing in Business History Front and Center
Pamela Walker Laird

Classic Issues and Fresh Themes in Business History
Philip Scranton

American Manufacturing, 1850-1930: A Business History Approach
Mansel Blackford

Business History in the Teaching American History Program
Stuart D. Hobbs

Newspapers, Radio, and the Business of Media in the United States
Michael Stamm

Selling Black Beauty: African American Modeling Agencies and Charm Schools in Postwar America
Malia McAndrew

Robert Noyce, Silicon Valley, and the Teamwork Behind the High-Technology Revolution
Leslie Berlin

Although full access requires a subscription, the extensive teaching tools are freely available.

At its recent annual meeting, the BHC published the call for papers for the 2011 meeting, which will be held in St. Louis, Missouri, from March 31 to April 2. As the call for papers explains,

our 2011 annual meeting takes "Knowledge" as its theme. Knowledge embraces, but is not confined to, the human capital generated and sustained by entrepreneurs, middle managers, and technical professionals; the tacit knowledge of clerks and factory workers; the cultural messages broadcast by advertisers and public relations professionals; the learning paths of institutions that contribute to the generation, circulation, and preservation of knowledge; the intellectual history of constructs like the "knowledge economy"; and the relationship of knowledge-generating economic institutions to government, the professions, and communications networks.

The Program Chair for 2011 is Mark R. Wilson of the University of North Carolina, Charlotte; the deadline for proposals is October 1, 2010. For further information, please read the full call for papers.

The German Historical Institute in Washington, DC, is launching a collaborative research project entitled "Immigrant Entrepreneurship: The German-American Business Biography, 1720 to the Present." The finished product will consist of a published collection of biographical essays as well as a website that will provide research essays, primary source documents, and statistical data. The GHI-DC is currently seeking contributors for both biographical articles and contextual essays; those interested should contact the Institute at