Wednesday, June 2, 2010

what i'm reading

Instead of writing thought pieces on what I've been reading and working on I thought I'd just blaze away with a list along with a little summary. Most of this is background stuff to get a better idea of the primary sources before checking them out in the next few weeks.

Edwin E. Witte, "Early American Labor Cases," Yale Law Journal 35: 7 (1926), pp. 825-837

-Over the course of the nineteenth century, conspiracy law (dealing with the right of workers to combine for whatever reason) didn't improve for workers in the sense that they didn't become more free to combine. The issuance of court injunctions against combinations, rather than holding full criminal trials, became more common by the 1880s and into the 1890s.

Keith Hoskin and Richard Macve, "Reappraising the Genesis of Managerialism: A Re-examination of the role of accounting at the Springfield Armory, 1815-1845," Accounting, Auditing and Accountability 7:2 (1994), pp. 4-30

-Alfred D. Chandler's explanatory framework for the rise of big business, that the phenomenon was primarily due to increased transportation and communication networks between 1840-1860, neglects a crucial variable: how management treated labor during this time. Looking at one of the main models of industrial expansion, the Springfield Armory, the authors show that managerialism was the result of a strict labor discipline model carried over to the firm by West Point graduates beginning in the 1830s. This is the first time I'm coming across this article and it appears to be an important critique of the largely-influential work of Chandler. Why hasn't this received more attention from economic historians?

Charles Warren, History of the American Bar

-A sociological study of the bar with lots of important stories of early American property development cases. Property developers were on their toes about some of the crucial early decisions. Who would have thought the legal system could play such an active role in defining property rights to promote the interest of the public welfare?


  1. It was only the third sentence of your last paragraph that clarified things to me. Initially, I had thought you were doing summer reading - I, for one, would really like to read a "History of the American Bar(the establishment)". I am sure the early decisions would have been equally fascinating - and the connections with property, as well.

  2. :)

    I could even see how the "interests in the public welfare" part of the third sentence may throw some people off.

    Or maybe, just Ian