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   William S. Vickrey Papers, 1939-1996

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Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); William S. Vickrey Papers, Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

COinS Metadata available (e.g., for Zotero).

Summary Information

At a Glance

Bib ID:5455879 View CLIO record
Creator(s):Vickrey, William S. (William Spencer), 1914-
Title:William S. Vickrey Papers, 1939-1996
Physical description:23.5 linear ft. (ca 16,500 items in 47 boxes).
Language(s): In English, Spanish, and German.
Access: This collection has no restrictions. This collection is located on-site.  More information »



This collection is arranged into 7 series:

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Scope and Content

The collection is comprised of correspondence, manuscripts, teaching materials, conference materials, subject files, and printed items from William S. Vickrey's career as an economist. It contains published and unpublished papers illustrating his thoughts on various aspects of economic theory and their practical application. Topics discussed in these manuscripts involve macroeconomics, marginal cost pricing, microeconomics, political economy and welfare, public finance, social choice, taxation, transportation, urban economics, and related matters. The collection also has records from his tenure at Columbia University, including correspondence with his academic colleagues and participation in professional activities.

Series I: Cataloged Correspondence

Correspondence sent to William S. Vickrey from senators, congressmen, and other economists. Includes letters from Carl Shoup to Vickrey and his colleagues at Columbia University. Arranged alphabetically by last name of sender.

Series II: Arranged Correspondence

Correspondence to and from William S. Vickrey related to his career in economics. These letters include debates on economic theory, discussion of transportation issues, requests for references, proposals for grant projects, and reviews of other economists' papers. The series also has letters about symposiums, involvement with professional organizations, visits by other scholars, Quaker activities, publications, and comments by colleagues on his work. In addition, there is personal correspondence with his wife Cecile, mother, and friends. Arranged alphabetically by last name of sender.

Series III: Manuscripts

Typescripts, mimeograph masters, drafts, outlines, notes, and fragments of William S. Vickrey's papers, articles, reviews, and other economic documents. Various aspects of economic theory and application are discussed including macroeconomics, marginal cost pricing, microeconomics, social choice, taxation, transportation, urban economics, and related matters. Arranged alphabetically by subject designated by economic graduate students who previously inventoried Vickrey's papers or assigned by the author in his annotated bibliography. Many of the notes were also provided by Vickrey or the graduate students.

Subseries III.1: Macroeconomics

Papers, letters to the editor, reviews, essays, speeches, and incomplete parts of Vickrey's book Metastatics and Macroeconomics . These papers focus mainly on government fiscal policy regarding balanced budgets, deficits, capital spending, unemployment, inflation, and social security. Also includes discussion of the fallacies of financial fundamentalism, markup warrants, interest rates, and related topics. Arranged alphabetically by title.

Subseries III.2: Marginal Cost Pricing

Papers, reviews, articles, statements, essays, and notes about the pricing of natural resources and public utilities. Includes a notebook on postal rate and fee increases as well as his thoughts about efficient pricing, responsive pricing, peak load pricing, tolls and pollution. Arranged alphabetically by title.

Subseries III.3: Microeconomics

Primarily outline, illustrations, bibliography, appendices, errata, and notes for Vickrey's graduate level textbook Microstatics published in 1964. Also includes his review of "The Taxation of Income from Capital." Arranged alphabetically by title.

Subseries III.4: Political Economy and Welfare

Papers, book reviews, and an outline of remarks on the subjects of social science, world development, poverty, and corporate giving. Arranged alphabetically by title.

Subseries III.5: Public Finance

A paper on tax cuts, a book review concerning taxation, and notes regarding land tax and how tax policies encourage investment. Arranged alphabetically by title.

Subseries III.6: Social Choice

Papers, reviews, and notes about social choice and welfare. Topics addressed include auctions, game theory, demand revealing procedures, equity, justice, and related societal issues. Arranged alphabetically by title.

Subseries III.7: Taxation

Papers, notes, articles, and reviews concerning the effects of taxation on the economy. These papers include examination of the simplification of the tax system, tax revenues, capital gains, progressive taxation, land value taxation, tax evasion, assessments, philanthropy, tax credits, income, and related issues. Also discusses federal income tax, international tax, corporate income tax, state taxes, excise tax, expenditures tax, estate taxes, and gift taxes. Arranged alphabetically by title.

Subseries III.8: Transportation

Papers, reviews, letters to the editor, essays, statements, outlines, speeches, reports, and notes regarding the numerous economic aspects of transportation. These materials reflect his observations on transit fares, automation, road pricing, parking, land use, toll systems, airline timetables, subway scheduling, transfers, highway use, direct current traction, and methods of examining transportation demand for pricing. Vickrey proposes solutions to the problems with congestion, pollution, subway service, parking allocation, inadequate maps, traffic accidents, financing, signaling, politics, and inefficient use of transportation infrastructure. In addition, some documents address the specific transportation concerns in New York City, Caracas, Buenos Aires, Washington, D.C., Tehran, Korea, and the Netherlands. Arranged alphabetically by title.

Subseries III.9: Urban Economics

Papers, reviews, models, and notes proposing resolutions to urban issues. Includes descriptions of the efficient city, urban development, taxation, land valuation, transportation, and strategies for making New York City work. Arranged alphabetically by title.

Subseries III.10: Miscellaneous

Papers, notes, reviews, essays, statements, lists, teaching materials, and fragments about assorted subjects of interest to Vickrey. Contains discussions of theory, insurance, public services, foreign economic systems, conflict resolution, computer applications, methods of economic measurement, higher education, politics, sociology, and minor diversions. Arranged alphabetically by title.

Series IV: Columbia University

Correspondence with administrators, fellow professors, students, visitors, librarians, and others involved in university activities. Also includes exams, papers, course syllabi, reading lists, seminar presentations, and other teaching materials used by Vickrey during his career. Arranged alphabetically by topic.

Series V: Conference Materials

Programs, schedules, correspondence, publicity, discussion transcripts, and related materials about the participants, travel arrangements, topics to be debated, chairmanship duties, and comments on proposed presentations. Includes correspondence and other papers about the American Economic Association (AEA) 1991 Annual Meeting organized by Vickrey. The meeting files detail the proposed sessions, papers submitted for presentation, organization of joint programs, and further planning information. Arranged alphabetically by conference title.

Series VI: Subject Files

Correspondence, notes, bibliographies, papers, lists, press clippings, and other documents reflecting Vickrey's research interests and efforts to have his work published. Also includes correspondence, notes, financial records, travel arrangements, and other information about his consulting projects, often overseas. Arranged alphabetically by topic.

Series VII: Printed Material

Reprints of papers written by Vickrey and his colleagues, issues of journals, and related economic ephemera. Arranged alphabetically by title.

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Using the Collection


Access Restrictions

This collection has no restrictions.

This collection is located on-site.

Restrictions on Use

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. Permission to publish material from the collection must be requested from the Curator of Manuscripts/University Archivist, Rare Book and Manuscript Library (RBML). The RBML approves permission to publish that which it physically owns; the responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); William S. Vickrey Papers, Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

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About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries. Rare Book and Manuscript Library; machine readable finding aid created by Columbia University Libraries Digital Library Program Division

Processing Information

Papers processed Bridget T. Lerette

Machine readable finding aid generated from MARC-AMC source via XSLT conversion June 26, 2009 Finding aid written in English.
    2010-04-02 Legacy finding aid created from Pro Cite.

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Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.


HeadingCUL Archives:
CUL Collections:
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:


HeadingCUL Archives:
CUL Collections:
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
American Economic Association.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Anti-inflationary policies.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Bonbright, James C. (James Cummings), 1891-1985.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
City traffic.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Committee on Taxation, Resources and Economic Development.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Cordier, Andrew W. (Andrew Wellington), 1901-PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Debts, Public.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Deficit financing.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Economic policy.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Employment (Economic theory)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Energy policy.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Finance, Public.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Full employment policies.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Income tax--United States.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Inflation (Finance)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Koch, Ed, 1924-PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Land use.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Local transit--Fares.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Local transit--New York (State)--New York--Finance.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Local transit.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
McGill, William J.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Melman, Seymour.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Moynihan, Daniel P. (Daniel Patrick), 1927-2003.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Muskie, Edmund S., 1914-1996.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
New York (N.Y.)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Poitier, Sidney.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Postal service.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Price regulation.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Progressive taxation.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Public utilities.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Resource allocation.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Shoup, Carl Sumner, 1902-PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Social choice.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Statics and dynamics (Social sciences)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Thurmond, Strom, 1902-2003.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Transit, International.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
United States--Economic conditions.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Urban economics.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Urban transportation.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Welfare economics.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID

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History / Biographical Note

Biographical Note

William S. Vickrey was born in 1914 in Victoria, British Columbia. After earning a B.S. in mathematics from Yale University in 1935, he went on to Columbia University where he earned an M.A. (1937) and Ph.D. (1947) in Economics. During World War II, Vickrey served as an economist in the Tax Research Division of the U.S. Treasury Department. In 1946, Vickrey began his teaching career at Columbia, eventually becoming the McVickar Professor of Political Economy in 1971. His research career was prolific with over 100 books and articles published on a broad range of matters and he worked as a consultant on projects in the U.S. and abroad. Vickrey lectured extensively, participated in numerous professional organizations, supported efforts for world peace, and served as president of the American Economic Association in 1992. Shortly before his death on October 11, 1996, Vickrey was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences "for his fundamental contributions to the economic theory of incentives under asymmetric information."

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