History A421/H511 American Business History/M 5:45-8:25/CA 215/Spring 2003

Professor Ashendel

Office:  CA 243C

Office Hours:  MW  11:00-12:00 and by appointment

Office Telephone:  274-7463

Emails:  aashendel@aol.com or aashende@iupui.edu


The instructor reserves the right to modify this syllabus at any point during the semester.


Required Readings:

Cochran, Frontiers of Change

Porter, The Rise of Big Business

Peiss, Hope in a Jar

McCraw, American Business, 1920-2000:  How it Worked

Additional readings as assigned by the instructor


Course Objectives:  This course explores the historical development of American business institutions from the colonial era to the present.  Thematic units organize the material focusing in turn on the most significant developments in the American business environment.  The goal is a cumulative understanding of the development of the system.  A great deal of our discussion and reading will center on the interaction of market operations and social values and how these interactions influenced the business environment at different times.  It is the study of business in the context of past times that makes this course different from a course in business methods or institutions.  Through the study of the past students will develop their critical thinking and writing skills.  The objectives for this course encompass the skills outlined at the IUPUI web site as the Principles of Undergraduate Learning:  www.iupui.edu/~history/principlesundergradlearning.htm.  We will discuss these at our first class meeting.

Cooperation, not competition, will be stressed in the classroom.  Students are encouraged to discuss their work and share ideas with each other.  Library resources might be lacking in some areas so please share.


Cheating and Plagiarism:  This course is designed for upper level undergraduates and graduate students.  It is safe to assume that students at this level know how to cite sources and will not plagiarize.  If a student cheats on an exam or plagiarizes a paper that student will earn a zero on the assignment AND in the course.  Historians MUST display an ability to do their own work as the profession depends on an honest interpretation of the evidence.  Integrity is essential.


Attendance and classroom etiquette:  Attendance is required.  Since the class meets only once each week it is essential to attend every meeting.  That said, night classes can be difficult.  Significant others, children, and pets would rather you be with them than in class.  Illness, children's school programs, and other important events might pull you away from class for an evening.  Please consult with me before or after an unavoidable absence.  Short quizzes will be administered at the beginning of classes as a way to record both attendance and progress.  These quizzes will be the determining factor in assigning final grades for those whose total points are on the border between letter grades.  I do not permit the use of tape recorders in this class.


Course Requirements:  Undergraduate and graduate students will have different requirements.


Undergraduates:  Undergraduates will take two essay exams.  The first exam will be completed in the middle of the semester and the other at the end of the semester.  These examinations will consist of several identifications and an essay.  A study guide will be distributed one week prior to the examination. The examination itself will be taken completely from the study guide.  Make-up exams will be administered only if the student can provide documentation of an emergency situation which prevented his/her attendance at the exam.  Documents can include items such as evidence of a doctor’s visit or a prescription, a memorial card from a funeral home, an accident report, or a notice from a school of a child’s program or parent/teacher meeting. The exam must be taken within two weeks of the absence. Undergraduates will also complete a research paper on a topic of their choice.  A more complete explanation of the assignment is included in this syllabus. Incomplete grades are strongly discouraged and almost never given. It is not fair to the rest of the class to ask for extra time in which to complete your work.


Grading for Undergraduates:

2 exams @ 100 points each                  200

Research paper @ 100 points               100

Total                                                    300

Weekly quizzes will determine borderline grades.


Grades are assessed on a straight scale:  A = 300-270; B = 269-240; C = 239-210; D = 209-180; F = 179 and less.


Requirements for Graduate Students:  Graduate students will write three short book reviews and present the books in a lengthier discussion to the other graduate students at special graduate student meetings.  Graduate students will also complete a detailed historiographical essay on a topic in business history or will complete an original research paper on a topic in business history.  Either project must be approved by the instructor. A complete explanation of both assignments will be discussed at the first class meeting.


Grading for Graduate Students:

3 reviews/discussions @ 100 points      300

Research paper @ 200 points               200

Total                                                    500

Weekly quizzes will determine borderline grades.


Grades are assessed on a straight scale:  A = 500-450; B = 449-400; C = 399-350; D = 349-300; F = 299 and lower.


Schedule of Weekly Topics and Assignments:  Please read the assigned readings before coming to class and be prepared to discuss them.


January 13:  Introduction to the Course/What is Business History?


January 27:  Colonial Businesses

                        Read:  Material provided by instructor

February 3:  Industrialization/Transportation/The Market Revolution

                        Read:  Frontiers of Change

February 10:  More Industrialization


February 17:  Rise of Big Business       

                        Read:  Rise of Big Business

February 24:  Retail and Advertising


March 3:  Government and Business--The 20s and the New Deal

                        Read:  American Business, Chapters 1, 2, 3, and 5



March 24:   Minorities and Business

                        Read:  American Business, Chapter 6

                                    Materials provided by instructor

March 31:  Women and Business

                        Read:  American Business, Chapter 4

                                    Hope in a Jar

April 7:  Oil and Business

                        Read:  Material provided by instructor

April 14:  War and Business

                        Read:  American Business, Chapter 5

                                    Material provided by instructor

April 21: Post-1945 Business

Read:  American Business, Chapters 7 and 8


April 28:  Business in the 1980s and 1990s

                        Read:  American Business, Chapters 9 and 10 and Epilogue




Undergraduate Paper Assignment


Undergraduates will write a research paper on a topic of their choice.  The paper will be 8-10 pages in length, typed, double-spaced with one inch margins on each side, and have 12 point font (no more or less).   Each paper will have at least 3 sources.  Paper topics must be approved by the instructor.  Possible topics will be discussed at our first class meeting.  Your choice will be guided by your personal interests and the availability of resources.


Grading of undergraduate paper: 

Topic/Thesis Paragraph                        10 points         

Bibliography                                         10 points

Paper                                                   80 points


Graduate Student Research Project


Each graduate student will write a 15-20-page paper.  These papers must be typed, double-spaced with one-inch margins on every side, and have 12 point font. The paper may be either a historiographical treatment of a topic in business history or a research paper based on original research in primary sources.  Primary sources are available at the Indiana Historical Society, at the IUPUI Archives, and other local sources.  Local businesses may have their own archives.  We will discuss research projects in greater detail at our first meeting. 



Topic/Thesis Paragraph                        25 points

Bibliography                                         25 points

Paper                                                   150 points


Research/Reference Guides in our Library


American Economic and Business History Guide: Guide to Information Sources (1971)

American Economic History Before 1860 (1969)

Encyclopedia of Native American Economic History

American Women Managers and Administrators: Selective Biographical Dictionary (1985)

Biographical Dictionary of American Business Leaders (1983)

Current Biography (1940- )

Notable American Women, 1607-1950 (1975)

Notable American Women, The Modern Period (1980)

Women in the American Economy: A Documentary History, 1675-1929 (1976)

Journal of Economic History

Business and Economic History

Business History Review

ABI/Inform (online)

America:  History and Life

F&S Index of Corporations and Industries

Wall Street Journal Index