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Using the Collection
Note: some material may be restricted or offsite
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At a Glance
This collection is arranged in three series.
This collection consists of the records relating to the faculty and curriculum of the Department of Economics, primarily during the 1940s and 1950s, when prominent faculty members included James Angell, Arthur Burns, Carter Goodrich, Carl Shoup, Horace Taylor and William Vickerey. The collection also includes Carl Shoup's records from when the School of Business was administratively under the Department of Economics. There are also materials from Donald Dewey's courses: outlines, reading lists, exams, etc.
Using the Collection
Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Restrictions on Access
All administrative records of the University are restricted for 25 years from the date of creation. Certain records related to students and University personnel are restricted for 75 years from the date of creation.
This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.
Terms Governing Use and Reproduction
Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.
Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Department of Economics records; Box and Folder (if known); University Archives, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.
Selected Related Material at Columbia University
Faculty of Political Science records, 1890s-1960s; Graduate School of Business records, 1910s-2010s
Accrual of Records
No additions are expected.
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library
This collection was processed by Joanna Rios. Finding aid written by Joanna Rios in February 2019.
2019-02-10 File created.
2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.
History / Biographical Note
Biographical / Historical
Columbia was among the first American colleges to offer instruction in economics. Reverend John McVickar CC 1804 began teaching political economy as early as 1821 and, by 1825, he published the first American textbook on the subject. McVickar taught the class for almost forty years. In 1876, John W. Burgess joined the faculty and he brought along his former student Richmond Mayo-Smith as the Professor of History and Political Science. Mayo-Smith's appointment was the first in the College's history which was made primarily on the candidate's qualifications in political economy.
The department can be said to have started when, in addition to Professor Mayo-Smith, Columbia appointed Edwin R. A. Seligman CC 1879, LLB 1884 and PhD 1885 as a lecturer in Political Economy. By 1890, the two-man department doubled in size with the addition of the sociologist Franklin H. Giddings and the economic theorist John Bates Clark. Originally named the Department of Political Economy and Social Science, Seligman changed the name to the Department of Economics and Social Science in 1892. They offered general courses for undergraduates as well as an integrated curriculum leading to graduate work. They also attracted students from the School of Law, Teachers College and the theological seminaries.
While working on Business Cycles, Wesley C. Mitchell decided to resign from the University for California and to move to New York, the center of the financial world. At Columbia he took a nominal salary so that he could confine his teaching to only one course on his current research interests, which became one of the most famous courses in the department's history. Students would transcribe Prof. Mitchell's lectures and sell mimeograph copies to fellow students, students at other institutions, and even professionals. The department played an important role in the development of the Contemporary Civilization course, a merging of history and social sciences for the first two years of college work. Edward VanDyke Robinson was brought in 1915 to teach primarily undergraduates in the College, but it was William E. Weld, who became the first full Professor of Economics attached to Columbia College in 1928.
The establishment of the School of Business in 1916 was a welcome event for the Department and both would remain close administratively. In fact, from 1931 to 1940 Roswell C. McCrea served concurrently as executive officer of the Department and dean of the School. Similarly, when the School of International Affairs (now known as the School of International and Public Affairs) opened in 1946, the Department grew to meet the needs of SIA students, who were required to take general courses in international economics, trade and finance.
After the founding fathers of the department retired or passed away in the 1930s, they left the department in the hands of a new generation of pioneers in the field including Arthur Frank Burns, Carter Goodrich, Robert M. Haig, Harold Hotelling, Carl Sumner Shoup, and William Vickrey.