Remembering Harold Livesay, 1934-2018

Harold Livesay, 1934-2018


Well-known business historian Harold C. Livesay, most recently Clifford A. Taylor Professor in Liberal Arts at Texas A&M University, passed away on August 9, 2018. After a varied and unconventional early career that ranged from tomato picker to railroad yardmaster and beyond, Hal Livesay decided on an academic life.  He received a B.A. from the University of Delaware and a Ph.D. in History from the Johns Hopkins University in 1970. 
     His major publications include Merchants and Manufacturers: Studies in the Changing Patterns of Distribution [with Glenn Porter] (1971); Andrew Carnegie and the Rise of Big Business (1975); and American Made: Men Who Built the American Economy (1979). Livesay was an active member of the Business History Conference for many years, and he also served as president of the Economic and Business History Society (1990-1991). For a fuller description of his life (and a hint of his personality), readers are directed to his CV on the TAMU faculty website.


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  • I profited from reading Hal Livesay’s books, as did my students. His death saddens me. Hal and I were once interviewed for a report on NPR’s “All Things Considered.” After the edited interview aired, Hal complained about how much of what he said was not included. I reminded him that we got four minutes of time, an eternity in electronic media! -- K. Austin Kerr, Professor Emeritus of History, Ohio State University.
  • Harold Livesay advised me for two decades - as my doctorate chair, then friend. I miss him already. He did exactly what he said he would't do:  1) taught me how to write; 2) helped me through my life crises; 3) supported my family. There are a lot of intelligent people in academia, but there aren't many who are smart and intelligent. Harold was both - if you passed his gauntlet, he opened his mind and heart. I benefited greatly from knowing Harold, and will always be grateful for what he gave to me and my family. -- Jane Flaherty, Texas A&M University
  • Harold Livesay and I had four things in common.

    First, we were former professional truck drivers.  I hauled bed bugs for Bekins, which meant fewer miles and more money, while Harold was crazy enough to haul steel.  We both appreciated the hard work and the people we met along the way.  

    That experience in trucking, along with other work experiences, underscored our second connection, a fascinating  interest in the history of business.  The piece he wrote on Andrew Carnegie’s discovery that he could borrow money and make money off of that transaction was a brilliant introduction to capitalism.

    Third, we (along with the late Thomas K. McCraw) understood how biography could make business history more accessible to more people.  Given the time in which we began our careers, that often meant telling the lives of white males.  But before our careers entered the twilight, that emphasis had spread to women, minorities, and immigrants.  

    Fourth, we both enjoyed traveling to new places.  Harold went to many more different places than I, but his example has spurred me to try to catch up before it is my time to go.

    I will miss our lunches in College Station.  But I also know that Harold lived a long life to its fullest.  Would that we all could do that. —William R. Childs, The Ohio State University (retired)