The History of Capitalism is composed of faculty from across Cornell University. This faculty brings their expertise to the mission of teaching students the history of capitalism from the bottom up all the way to the top.


Ed Baptist

Photo: Ed Baptist Ed Baptist, Associate Professor of History in the College of Arts and Sciences, studies the role of forced labor in the history of capitalism, along with the history of finance, war, and resistance. His most recent book, The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism, was published in 2014 by Basic Books.

His current research projects include the history of the relationship between financial bonds and American economic disaster, the role of forced labor in the rise of world capitalism, and the history of African-American escapes from enslavement. He's also leading a project called Freedom on the Move, a collaborative effort in digital history that is building a crowdsourced database of all fugitive slave ads.

At Cornell, he teaches courses in the history of slavery, the U.S. Civil War, the history of American capitalism, digital history, and a service-learning course that focuses on rural Jamaica. Along with Louis Hyman, he is teaching The History of American Capitalism, a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) for CornellX.

Along with Louis Hyman and Jefferson Cowie, Baptist founded the HOCi in 2011.

Ed Baptist - eeb36@cornell.edu


George Boyer

George R. Boyer is a Professor in the Department of Economics in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University. He came to Cornell in 1982, after receiving his Ph.D. in Economics at the University of Wisconsin. He is the author of An Economic History of the English Poor Law, 1750-1850 (Cambridge University Press, 1990) and of numerous articles in the field of economic history. He has served as an Associate Editor of the Industrial and Labor Relations Review and on the editorial boards of the Journal of Economic History and of Social Science History. He currently is the Chair of the Department of International and Comparative Labor.

Professor Boyer's current research examines various aspects of labor markets in Victorian Britain, including trends in working class living standards, the economics of poor relief and private charity, and unemployment and underemployment from 1870 to 1913. He is completing a manuscript entitled “The Winding Road to the Welfare State: Economic Insecurity and Social Welfare Policy in Britain, 1840-1940.”

Professor Boyer’s teaching includes undergraduate courses on the Development of Economic Thought and Institutions, the Evolution of Social Policy in Britain and America, and Twentieth Century Economic History. He is the ILR School’s Director of Teaching, and chairs the School’s Teaching Advisory Committee.

George Boyer - grb3@cornell.edu


Lawrence Glickman

Lawrence Glickman is Professor of History at Cornell University. Prior to joining the faculty here, he taught for twenty-two years at the University of South Carolina. He is the author or editor of four books, including, most recently, Buying Power: A History of Consumer Activism in America (University of Chicago Press). He draws on cultural, labor, consumer, and labor history and is particularly interested in the ways in which people and groups (such as labor unions and business lobbyists) think about economic language and practices.

In the past, he has examined how workers defined a “living wage” and how activists understood the effects of acts of collective consumption. In this vein, he is currently researching a book titled, “The Free Enterprise System: A Cultural History,” which seeks to show that “free enterprise” was a contested, debated and important term. He has earned fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Philosophical Society, and the Princeton University Center for Human Values.

He is a distinguished lecturer for the Organization for American Historians and he blogs occasionally at various websites including the Baseline Scenario and Bloomberg’s “Echoes” business history blog.

Lawrence Glickman - lbg49@cornell.edu


Sandra Greene

Sandra E. Greene is a historian of West Africa whose recent work focuses on the history of slavery.  She is the author of three books, with another forthcoming (Slave Owners of West Africa: Decision-Making in the Age of Abolition). She is also the editor of two books, with another two forthcoming (African Voices on Slavery and the Slave Trade, Volume 2; and African Masters/ African Slaves

Greene teaches the interdisciplinary course, African Economic Development Histories. Her future research will expand  her  interests in political economy to include a  focus on the history of the relationship between Cadbury and Ghana, one of the largest cocoa producers in the world. 

Sandra Greene - seg6@cornell.edu


Louis Hyman

Photo: Louis Hyman

Raised in Baltimore, Maryland, Louis Hyman attended Columbia University, where he received a BA in History and Mathematics.

A former Fulbright scholar and McKinsey consultant, Hyman received his PhD in American history in 2007 from Harvard University. His dissertation received the Harold K. Gross Prize for best dissertation in history at Harvard and the Krooss prize for best dissertation in business history nationally. His first book, Debtor Nation: The History of America in Red Ink (Princeton University Press, 2011), focused on the history of the political economy of debt and was selected as one of the 2011 Choice Top 25 Outstanding Books of the Year. His second book, Borrow: The American Way of Debt (Vintage, 2012), explained how American culture shaped finance and in turn how finance shaped culture.

His writings have appeared in the New York Times, The Atlantic, Wilson Quarterly, Bloomberg, The Hedgehog Review, CNBC, and other newspapers, journals, and blogs, as well as essay collections. He teaches the MOOC American Capitalism: A History through EdX and is the founding editor of the Columbia Studies in the History of U.S. Capitalism book series from Columbia University Press.

Currently he is working on a book entitled Temp: The Deep History of the Flexible Economy.

He is currently an associate professor in the Labor Relations, Law, and History department at the ILR school of Cornell University. He is also the Director of the Institute for Workplace Studies in NYC.

His research focuses on the history of American capitalism, particularly the intersection of the government and the market in everyday economic practice.

Along with Edward Baptist and Jefferson Cowie, Hyman founded the HOCi in 2011.

Louis Hyman - lrh62@cornell.edu

Ann Johnson

Ann Johnson, Associate Professor of Science and Technology Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences, studies engineering and science, focusing primarily on how scientific and engineering practitioners produce knowledge in the private sector.  She is the author of Hitting the Brakes: Engineering Design and the Production of Knowledge, a study of the design and development of antilock braking for passengers in several different companies.  She is completing work on a manuscript tentatively titled Engineering America, which examines the roles and practices of engineers in politics, political economy, and nation building between 1789 and about 1850. 
Her current research includes two book-length projects, first, a collaboration with Johannes Lenhard of the University of Bielefeld, on the escalating role of prediction-making in recent science and engineering.  The second on-going book project is tentatively titled “How the Car Got its Brain,” a history of the global automobile industry’s response to emission controls.  She is also involved in a growing interest among Technology Studies scholars in the ways in-use technologies are maintained and adapted—in contrast to the widespread nearly exclusively positive attention paid to “innovation.” See http://themaintainers.org for further information on this direction.

At Cornell, she teaches primarily in the Biology and Society undergraduate program, as well as graduate courses in Science and Technology Studies.  She teaches undergraduate classes in Life Science and Society, the Philosophy of Medicine, and Environmental Ethics, among others and a graduate seminar in Science, Technology and Capitalism.

Ann Johnson – aj532@cornell.edu

Victor Seow

Victor Seow is a historian of China’s long twentieth century, with research interests that revolve around issues of industry, technology, energy, environment, and the state. He is, at present, completing his first book, “Coal Capital: Energy Regimes in the Making of Modern China and Japan,” which examines the role of fossil fuels in the rise of technocratic politics in transwar East Asia. Other projects include a comparative history of automobile cities and a study of Chinese industrial cooperatives.

Victor is currently Assistant Professor of History at Cornell University, where he teaches courses on modern Asian history, modern Chinese history, the political economy of late imperial and modern China, Chinese communism, and the history of energy.

Victor Seow - vks29@cornell.edu