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The Punch Card Imagination: Authorship & Early Computing HistoryGregory Hargreaves interviews Zachary Mann about his dissertation project “The Punch Card Imagination: Authorship & Early Computing History.” In support of his project, Mann, a PhD candidate in English literature at the University of Southern California, received an exploratory grant t…
 
Bin, Bag, Box: The Architecture of ConvenienceGregory Hargreaves interviews Louisa Iarocci about her research project “Bin, Bag, Box: The Architecture of Convenience,” in support of which, Iarocci, an associate professor at the University of Washington at Seattle, received an exploratory grant from the Hagley Center for the History of Business, Tec…
 
CRAP: A History of Cheap Stuff in AmericaWendy A. Woloson is associate professor of history at Rutgers University – Camden. With a career as a museum curator, artist, and scholar of 19th century history, her new book is called Crap: A History of Cheap Stuff in America. In this book Woloson takes seriously the history of objects that are easy to dis…
 
INTRODUCTION OF THE ROLLED I-BEAM IN THE U.S.A. IN THE 1850S, REVISITEDGregory Hargreaves interviews Sara Wermiel about her research project “Introduction of the Rolled I-Beam in the U.S.A. in the 1850s, Revisited.” In support of her research, Wermiel, an independent scholar & historic preservation consultant, received a Henry Belin du Pont researc…
 
THE TRANSPACIFIC MIDDLEGregory Hargreaves interviews Sunny Xiang about her book project “The Transpacific Middle,” in support of which, Xiang, an assistant professor at Yale University, received an exploratory grant from the Hagley Center for the History of Business, Technology, & Society.In “The Transpacific Middle,” Xiang discusses her research o…
 
SORTING OUT THE MIXED ECONOMY: THE RISE AND FALL OF WELFARE AND DEVELOPMENTAL STATES IN THE AMERICAS In this episode Roger Horowitz interviews Amy C. Offner, Associate Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania, about her new book. Sorting Out the Mixed Economy: The Rise and Fall of Welfare and Developmental States in the Americas (Prin…
 
Arms of the State: A History of the Industrial Robot in Postwar AmericaGregory Hargreaves interviews Salem Elzway about his dissertation project “Arms of the State: A History of the Industrial Robot in Postwar America.” In support of his research, Elzway, a PhD candidate at the University of Michigan, received an exploratory grant and a Henry Belin…
 
AMERICAN FAIR TRADE: PROPRIETARY CAPITALISM, CORPORATISM, AND THE 'NEW COMPETITION,' 1890–1940 Roger Horowitz interviews Laura Phillips Sawyer about her recent book, American Fair Trade: Proprietary Capitalism, Corporatism, and the 'New Competition,' 1890–1940 (Cambridge University Press, 2018). Phillips Sawyer, an associate professor at University…
 
THE GRAVEYARD SHIFT: COAL & CITIZENSHIP IN THE AGE OF ENERGY CRISIS Gregory Hargreaves interviews Trish Kahle about her book project “The Graveyard Shift: Coal & Citizenship in the Age of Energy Crisis.” Kahle, assistant professor in the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University Qatar, received support for her research from…
 
LANCE’S QUEST TO SOLVE THE MYSTERY OF A CIVIL WAR SUBMARINE In this episode, Ben Spohn interviews Dr. Rachel Lance, an Assistant Consulting Professor in the Department of Anesthesiology at the Duke University School of Medicine on her new book, In the Waves: My Quest to Solve the Mystery of A Civil War Submarine (Dutton, 2020). Lance is a biomedica…
 
ENGINEERING RULES: GLOBAL STANDARD SETTING SINCE 1880Roger Horowitz interviews JoAnne Yates and Craig N. Murphy about their recent book, Engineering Rules: Global Standard Setting since 1880 (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2019).JoAnne Yates (Sloan Distinguished Professor of Management, MIT) and Craig N. Murphy (the Betty Freyhof Johnson '44 Profe…
 
AMERICAN INDUSTRIAL DEMOCRACY BETWEEN 1913 AND 1935Program Officer Gregory Hargreaves interviews Dr. Kevin Tennent about his recent research at the Hagley Museum & Library, funded by a grant from the Hagley Center for the History of Business, Technology, & Society. Dr. Tennent, Senior Lecturer at the University of York School of Management, used Ha…
 
IN DEBT TO GROWTH: REAL ESTATE & THE POLITICAL ECONOMY OF PUBLIC FINANCE IN NEW YORK CITY, 1880-1943 Daniel Wortel-London is a recent PhD in American History from New York University, with a research focus on political, urban, and fiscal history. Dr. Wortel-London was the 2019-2020 Louis Galambos National Fellow in Business & Politics at the Hagley…
 
Designing the Bombshell: Military-Industrial Materials & the Shaping of Women's Bodies in the United StatesGregory Hargreaves interviews Dr. Isabelle Marina Held about her recent research at Hagley, funded by one of our grants. Dr. Held, a recent PhD in the History of Design, used Hagley materials in her research on the “bombshell assembly line,” t…
 
Gregory Hargreaves interviews Bernardo Batiz-Lazo about his book, Cash & Dash: How ATMs & Computers Changed Banking (Oxford, 2018). Batiz-Lazo, professor of FinTech History & Global Trade at Northumbria University, used Hagley collections related to the Philadelphia Savings Fund Society. In Cash & Dash, Batiz-Lazo discusses his research on the hist…
 
American educators in 1940s classrooms eagerly played corporate propaganda for their students. The source, Dupont’s Cavalcade of America, was a mid-twentieth century radio program designed to promote the values of free enterprise, productivity, & consumerism to the public through the medium of historical drama. Teachers introduced the program to cl…
 
Attitudes toward intoxication can be unstable. The government of Turkey, for example, within a single generation went from producing alcohol and promoting its consumption as civil and modern, to restricting the consumption of alcohol and prohibiting its advertisement, right down to cellphone ringtones that sound like beer bottles opening. A culture…
 
Leprechauns have hocked Irish goods to American consumers for generations. When one of the wee folk appeared on a bottle of Irish whisky, its familiar associations marked the drink as an authentic product of an antique culture for the American consumer. From the Blarney Stone to the shamrock, symbols laden with Irish associations in the American mi…
 
In the 1950s, Vladimir K. Zworykin, an engineer recently retired from research at RCA, looked at the rising cost of health care and the shortage of medical personnel in America, and decided to do something about it. His solution was to apply computer engineering techniques to the problems of health care and medical diagnosis. To do so, Zworykin est…
 
Coming to America to start a new life is filled with challenges, even for the wealthy and well-connected. When the du Pont family crossed the Atlantic, they sought a new beginning in a land of opportunity. Burdened by sibling rivalries and divergent ideas about how best to make their fortune, the family compensated with dedication to one another an…
 
There are many reasons to give to charity: convictions of religious faith, values of service to others, and plain old greed. Charities can serve the public good, but they can also serve personal interests at the same time. In the twentieth century, some affluent Americans turned to philanthropy with mixed motivations. Faith and values mattered to t…
 
How much is a dollar worth? It depends who you ask, when, and where. Economic psychologists have a concept called ‘money illusion,’ which suggests that people are not actually very good at judging the value of money in the context of changing monetary conditions. Distinguishing between the perceived value of money and its “objective” market value i…
 
Americans value equality, but have competing visions of what it should look like. The twentieth-century women’s movement was riven by class divisions. Elite women within the movement favored the uncompromising Equal Rights Amendment; while working women feared that it would undermine gains they had made in gendered workplace protections, and so fav…
 
The Athabasca country of Alberta once boasted the world’s premier fur hunting grounds. When the energy crises of the late twentieth century put a premium on the region’s tar sand deposits, rich in hydrocarbons useful for synthesizing oil, corporations built an industrial landscape of extraction and processing infrastructure that displaced former oc…
 
Forget Hollywood superstars. In the 1960s, women around the world wanted a sense of normality when they consumed cosmetics. As the Avon company attempted to win consumers for its mass-produced goods in Latin America and Europe, it adapted its marketing materials to reflect the segmentation of local and changing global ideals of beauty. In this epis…
 
In the wide-open American economy, some people fake it ‘til they make it. Historically, American impostors realized the promise of social mobility. Identifying freely with different ethnic, racial, class, gender, or professional groups allowed some Americans to challenge social norms, and to reinvent themselves in an environment of rapid and disori…
 
Trade wars are nothing new, and the weapons used to fight them sometimes backfire. During the Cold War, the United States took a carrot-and-stick approach to managing foreign relations through trade. The results were decidedly mixed. In this episode of Stories from the Stacks, Ryan Haddad, PhD candidate at the University of Maryland, discusses the …
 
Is it okay to have fun with computers? Joseph Weisbecker, an electrical engineer from the twentieth century, gives an unequivocal yes! During his long career, Weisbecker made it his mission to promote the use of computers for human purposes beyond business and military applications. For him, there was no shame in video games, and he wanted the worl…
 
In 1968, the New York Stock Exchange drowned in a sea of paperwork, which forced it to close to trading for one day every week. Something had to be done to allow the finite space of the trading floor to serve the potentially infinite growth in trade volume. The automation of securities trading, the replacement of open outcry pits and paperwork with…
 
Print and sell posters with the Coke-a-Cola logo on them and prepare to get sued. For corporations today, brands are valued property to be aggressively defended from unauthorized use. This was not always the case. The proprietary attitude taken by companies toward their brands developed in the context of a growing consumer economy, and under the tu…
 
Everybody knows Henry Ford, then there’s the tycoon you’ve never heard of, Billy Durant. The motive force behind the early success of Buick and the founding of Chevrolet and General Motors, William C. Durant developed business practices that transformed the automobile industry. Durant was a businessman of marked tenacity and impatient of restraint,…
 
1918—it was an explosive time. The nation was at war. Political movements for workers and women's suffrage were gathering steam. The world was on the brink of change.What better place to explore an explosive moment in time than at an explosives factory?In our first episode of this four-part series, we dive into the conflicts and disruptions of the …
 
At the turn of the 20th century, the modern magazine was taking shape, and printers, publishers, illustrators, and advertisers were playing around with new styles and techniques for capturing their readers’ attention. In this episode, Jennifer Greenhill (associate professor of art history at the University of Southern California and author of "Play…
 
In the late 1960s, the civil rights struggle had given way to a more militant black power movement. The Opportunities Industrialization Center (OIC) offered a business-friendly alternative: black empowerment through job training and economic advancement. In this episode, Jessica Levy (postdoctoral research associate at Princeton University's Depart…
 
Seth Lunine (lecturer in the Geography Department at University of California, Berkeley) explores the history of the high explosives industry in California and DuPont's eventual acquisition of many of these West Coast Companies. Lunine explains that he saw a hole in the historical research and discovered that the high explosives industry began in t…
 
In this episode, Mallory Huard (Ph.D. candidate in history and women’s studies at the Pennsylvania State University) introduces us to the women who picked up rod and gun as part of the Progressive Conservation movement, and how they were depicted in images, advertisements, magazines, and newspapers.More info: www.hagley.org/stories…
 
In this author talk, which took place at the Hagley Library on May 10, 2018, Wesleyan history professor Courtney Fullilove explains how Turkey Red Wheat became the predominant variety planted in the U.S. Great Plains in the late 19th century — the breadbasket of the world at the time. She explains how both plant explorers and Mennonite farmers help…
 
What did urban workers do for fun in the 19th century? With not a lot of money, a grueling work schedule, and only Sundays off, it could be difficult to escape the routines of the city and its toil. In this episode, Marika Plater (Ph.D. candidate in history at Rutgers University) digs deep into the archives to get at how working-class New Yorkers s…
 
Gerardo Con Diaz (Assistant Professor of Science and Technology Studies at the University of California, Davis) takes us back in time to when programs were not so intangible, and explains the different strategies that computer firms pursued to turn programs into profitable inventions.More info: www.hagley.org/stories…
 
From Honda to Nikon, Kawasaki to Nintendo, Japanese brands are ubiquitous in America with a reputation for quality and reliability— but this wasn’t always the case. Around the time of World War II, most Americans were loath to buy Japanese products, not only because of the conflict, but because their goods on American shelves were often shoddy and …
 
Between 1836 and 1880, the U.S. Patent Office required that anyone applying for a patent submit a scale model along with their application. Reed Gochberg, the first researcher to dive into Hagley’s extensive collection of patent models, tells us about these fascinating objects and her attempts to understand how 19th-century Americans experienced an…
 
Railroad stations were the transportation hubs of the nineteenth century, nodes in a network connecting people and places across the country. But while they represented mobility, they were also places where travelers could be stopped in their tracks.In this episode, Zachary Nowak (Harvard University) explains how large urban train stations reshaped…
 
From sidewalks to roads to buildings, concrete surrounds us in our daily lives, but we rarely stop to think about it. In this episode, Vyta Baselice (Ph.D. candidate in American Studies at the George Washington University) talks about her efforts to understand how concrete became the quintessential modern building material, showing up not just in b…
 
In this episode, we talk with University of Virginia Ph.D. candidate Alexi Garrett about her efforts to uncover the lost history of female business owners in the nineteenth century. At a time when married women’s property and income passed to their husbands, some single and widowed women were able to carve out economic niches for themselves, even b…
 
In this recorded lecture "Bulldozer: Demolition and Clearance of the Postwar Landscape," Francesca Russello Ammon explores how postwar America came to equate this destruction with progress. Although the decades following World War II were marked by rapid growth and construction in the United States, those years were also a time of large-scale destr…
 
In his talk, Alan Meyer provides an engaging account of private aviation, taking the audience inside a community that required exceptionally high skill levels, celebrated facing and overcoming risk, and encouraged fierce personal independence. Meyer uses the rise and fall of the Ercoupe, a personal plane lauded for its safety and intuitive operatio…
 
Jesus Ruiz (Ph.D. candidate at Tulane University) discusses his research on the ideological origins of the Haitian Revolution. He explains the historical significance of the war and describes the Hagley materials that are pertinent to his research. These sources include journals from Louis de Tousard, Cambefort and others.…
 
In this author talk on "Industrial Design for Modern Life," Dr. Danielle Shapiro explores the life and career of John Vassos, a Greek émigré who rose from anonymity as an advertising artist to become one of the pioneering founders of the industrial design profession. As the Radio Corporation of America's (RCA) leading designer, Vassos shaped the ae…
 
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