A lot of great historical data comes from old maps. In my first assignment for my undergraduates, I have students go and find a cool map and ask a question with it. Here's some of what they found and asked.
“Can societies collectively become more or less depressed over time?” A recent paper published in PNAS asks (and answers) that big, bold question. The authors go looking for “markets of cognitive distortions” in the Google Books corpus (English, Spanish, and German languages), a corpus that covers more than a century of the written word. The … Continue reading Friends Don’t Let Friends Use Google NGrams
Scholars of historical political economy should add record and census linking to our toolkit
What were the effects of the capital destruction wrecked on the South during Sherman's March? Comparing neighboring counties that differ only on whether or not they were unlucky enough to be in the way of Sherman’s scorched earth campaign, new work shows that destruction did have significant medium-run effects on the southern economy.
Before Johnny Cash shot a man in Reno to watch him die or met his true love in the North Country or got the blues in Folsom Prison, he spent his boyhood in Dyess Colony. I might know much more about Cash’s upbringing, but Walk the Line opens with an ominous shot of a table … Continue reading Dyess Colony and Experiments in Rural Relief During the Great Depression
A pretty major trial concluded on Saturday in the US Senate, as you might have heard. Despite a 57-43 majority voting to convict President Trump, he was officially acquitted, the Senate requiring a two-thirds majority in impeachment trials. The reality that a simple majority in the Senate isn’t enough to get something passed (most of … Continue reading Jury Trials, Impeachment and Otherwise
2021's economic history job market papers span centuries, continents, and fields
To start, a quick clarification. It might be the day before (a very, very strange) Thanksgiving, but this year at Broadstreet, you won’t find any seasonal content. Next year, I’m going to try and convince the fellow editors to write up “How to Argue About Politics and Economics with Your Relatives… And Win Using History” … Continue reading Adjusting to Automation
There’s some chance that this will be our final Infrastructure Week. But before this very-online joke passes into the ether, it seems natural to think about it in a proper historical context. Well, at least proper to me. The importance of infrastructure in the development of the American economy is well-trod ground. Duranton and Turner … Continue reading Infrastructure Revolts!
The Covid-19 pandemic is poised to kill people on a global scale not witnessed since the 1918 influenza pandemic. Because the influenza pandemic killed an estimated 50 million people worldwide and 675,000 in the United States, it stands out among scholars as a uniquely catastrophic event. But less well-known is that the typical rate of death from infectious disease among urban nonwhites in the early twentieth century was just as catastrophic -- even in non-pandemic years.