New Collection: The James W. Cortada Collection of Information Technology Publications

Monday, July 23, 2018

The Hagley Library is pleased to announce the acquisition of the James W. Cortada Collection of Information Technology Publications. This collection consists of an estimated 5,000 titles on the general subject of computers, information technology, society, the internet, and the economic and business issues involving computers from the 1940s through 2017. The collection was shipped to Hagley in 167 boxes from Mr. Cortada’s home in Wisconsin.

Book covers from Cortada's collection including one authored by him

Cortada worked for IBM for over 38 years in various sales, consulting, management, and executive positions. He holds a Ph.D. from Florida State University and is a self-described first-generation historian of information technology.

He built this collection while writing his histories of the industry including such titles as: Before the Computer: IBM, NCR, Burroughs, and Remington Rand and the Industry they created, 1865-1956 (1993); The Digital Hand: How Computers Changed the Work of American Manufacturing (2004); Information and the Modern Corporation (2011); The Digital Flood: Diffusion of Information Technology across the United States, Europe, and Asia (2012); and All the Facts: A History of Information in the United States since 1870 (2016). His productivity speaks not only to his managerial acumen but also to his pragmatism.

“I’m not collecting fine art,” he said. “I’m collecting the story of computing.” Indeed, he collected to inform his thinking about who, why, and how the world managed information since the late nineteenth century.

Most of the boxes have not been opened yet, but areas of interest within this collection include manuals and books about information technology; trade business management books; books on the applications of computers; the economics of computing; materials dealing with the global history and use of computing; information society and social issues, internet and media studies; histories of corporations and biographies; and academic and trade histories of computing, telecommunications, and related technologies. The breadth of this collection will provide a foundation for Hagley to build upon while considering other collecting opportunities.

Processing such a large collection will keep our catalogers busy for quite some time, but the work had already begun to make this collection available to our researchers. You can follow our progress by searching for this collection within our online catalog, or you may contact us at www.askhagley.org if you have any questions.


Max Moeller is the Curator of Published Collection at Hagley Museum and Library.

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