The relationship between business and the state has been a central theme of American history since the founding of the Republic. Beginning with Alexander Hamilton's push for the federal assumption of the Revolutionary War debt, the government (both state and federal) has been deeply involved in American economic life. In the first half of the nineteenth century, government funding of internal improvements and the protective tariff were defining issues of American political debate. As the state's role in American society expanded thereafter, important political struggles erupted over government regulation of the economy, the relationship between business and labor, antitrust legislation, national Prohibition, social welfare, Social Security, and the growth of the defense sector. In recent years, occupational health and safety, civil rights, civil liberties, and affirmative action have been at the forefront of public controversy.
Hagley's library collections document all these areas. They are strongest on the issues pertaining to the twentieth century, but they also contain material on the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The records of America's major business organizations—the National Association of Manufacturers, the Chamber of Commerce of the United States, the National Industrial Conference Board, and the National Foreign Trade Council—trace the evolving relationship between business and government. Significant corporate records that address this relationship include those of E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company, Sperry Gyroscope, and Sperry-Univac. Hagley also has the records of trade associations and of individuals who influenced the relationship between business and the state. We continue to receive documents from many of these organizations and firms.
Our Imprints Department contains significant materials on business-government relations that complement our archival collections. These materials include publications concerning tariffs, internal improvements, and government regulation of business and pamphlets issued by many of the firms and trade associations whose records are at Hagley. Imprints also holds many important government documents pertaining to business, such as the Wheeler Report on railroad consolidation, the Nye Committee Report on the World War I munitions industry, and hearings on legislation such as the Taft-Hartley Act. Among our printed sources are nineteenth-century state reports, including reports of state railroad commissions and bureaus of industrial statistics.
The Hagley Center for the History of Business, Technology and Society awards travel grants for visiting scholars. Some housing is available on the property. The Center also organizes conferences, research seminars, and academic programs. For more information, email clockman@Hagley.org.