Writing the History of Networks: J.P. Morgan and Gentlemen Bankers

Lecture Description

Susie Pak’s recent book, Gentlemen Bankers: The World of J.P. Morgan (Harvard University Press, 2013) is a study of the complex web of financial, social, and political relationships among Wall Street’s aristocracy in the early twentieth century. In her talk, Pak will discuss how the book tells the story of American financier J.P. Morgan and his bank from the perspective of their relationships. Focusing on the bank’s ties with the German Jewish bank of Kuhn, Loeb & Co., the Morgans’ strongest competitor and an important collaborator in the early twentieth century, Pak will talk about why writing their history from the viewpoint of their networks changes our understanding of the bank’s power and influence. Using examples from the Pierpont Morgan Library, the New York Public Library, and the Library of Congress, Pak will detail the challenges and rewards of studying historical networks from archival sources. She will also present an illustrated back-story of the historical research that went into recreating the economic and social networks of America’s most elite private bank before the Second World War.


Business and Economics General and Historiography

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