OAH Distinguished Lecturer Profile

Stephen A. Mihm

Portrait of Stephen A. Mihm

Stephen A. Mihm is an associate professor of history at the University of Georgia. He is the author of A Nation of Counterfeiters: Capitalists, Con Men, and the Making of the United States (2007); a coauthor, with Nouriel Roubini, of Crisis Economics: A Crash Course in the Future of Finance (2010); and a coeditor, with Katherine Ott and David Serlin, of Artificial Parts, Practical Lives: Modern Histories of Prosthetics (2002). He is also the author of a number of peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters, and academic essays. Mihm has received numerous fellowships, grants, and awards, including the biennial Harold F. Williamson Prize from the Business History Conference; a two-year grant from the National Science Foundation; and his department's Parks Heggoy Graduate Teaching Award in 2012 and 2014. He has also received a number of major fellowships from, among other institutions, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Harvard Business School. Mihm is currently writing a history of standards and standardization in the United States. He is a weekly columnist for "Bloomberg View" as well as a frequent contributor to the New York Times, the Boston Globe, and many other newspapers and magazines. He appears regularly in historical documentaries, radio and television programs, and other print and broadcast media in the United States and abroad.

Featured Lecture

OAH Lectures

Examines the twinned histories of "making money" in the early United States. Between the American Revolution and the Civil War, most money in circulation was issued by private state-chartered banks. These bank notes proved remarkably easy to counterfeit, and as the financial system grew, so did the criminal enterprise of counterfeiting. This talk details the colorful history of counterfeiting during this time, and what it it tells us more broadly about the corner-cutting, get-rich-quick brand of American capitalism that has appeared in reappeared throughout our nation's history.
While most accounts of the Civil War emphasize battlefield heroics, wars must be financed as well as fought. This talk presents the astonishingly success Union financing efforts, showing this marked an important turning point in the development of the American nation state.
It's a truism that history can somehow inform how politicians and policy makers respond to current events. But how? This talk gives a number of concrete examples to show how parallels with the past can constructively shape and guide decision-making in the present.