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Harvard. Economics Ph.D. Alumnus and Harvard Business School Professor, Copeland, 1910


Another obituary for the series: Meet a Ph.D. Economist! Copeland apparently was the first to organize a collection of case studies that were later to became a hallmark of the Harvard Business School. Of particular value is the link I found to his history of the Harvard Business School that was published in 1958.


Examination for the Degree of Ph.D.
Division of History and Political Science

Melvin Thomas Copeland.

Special Examination in Economics, Friday, December 14, 1909.
General Examination passed May 13, 1908.
Committee: Professors Ripley (chairman), Hart, Carver, Sprague, and Munro.
Academic History: Bowdoin College, 1902-06; Harvard Graduate School, 1906-09; A.B. (Bowdoin), 1906; A. M. (Harvard) 1907. Austin Teaching Fellow (Harvard), 1908-09; Instructor, 1909-10.
Special Subject: Economic History of the United States.
Thesis Subject: “The Organization of the Cotton Manufacturing Industry in the United States.” (With Professors Taussig and Gay.)
Committee on Thesis: Professors Gay, Ripley, and Sprague.


Source: Harvard University Archives. Harvard University, Examinations for the Ph.D. (HUC 7000.70), Folder “Examinations for the Ph.D., 1909-10”.



Source: Harvard Business School Yearbook, 1930-31.


From the Report of the President of Harvard College, 1975-75

Melvin Thomas Copeland, George Fisher Baker Professor of Administration, Emeritus, died March 27, 1975 in his 91st year. Although not a member of the Business faculty until 1912 when the School was four years old, “Doc” Copeland justly ranks with its founders because of his organization of the first collection of business cases for study. A 1906 graduate of Bowdoin College, Copeland came to Harvard to earn his A.M. (1907) and Ph.D. (1910) degrees. His doctoral dissertation, Cotton Manufacturing Industry of the U.S.,  won the Wells Prize and was published in 1912. While still a graduate student, he served as an Assistant in Economics and later as Instructor in Economic Resources. He then spent a year teaching on the faculty of New York University, returning to Harvard in 1912 to teach a course in business statistics at the fledgling Business School, thus beginning a career which continued until his retirement in 1953. Copeland became an Instructor in Marketing in 1914, Professor of Marketing in 1919, and was Director of the Bureau of Business Research twice (from 1916 to 1920 and from 1942 to 1953). He worked on the organization of business cases and on project research for faculty members in this latter job. He was named George Fisher Baker Professor in 1950. Over the years he earned a reputation as a distinguished editor and writer on business topics; before his retirement he produced six books, and afterwards was asked to write the Business School’s history, And Mark an Era, which appeared in 1958. His volume about the Gloucester, Massachusetts area where he lived, The Saga of Cape Ann (1960), also appeared after his retirement. In 1973, in his eighty-ninth year, Copeland received from the Business School its Distinguished Service Award.


Source: Harvard University. Report of the President of Harvard College and reports of departments, 1974-75, pp. 32-3.

Image Source: Harvard Album, 1920.



Irwin Collier

Posted by: Irwin Collier

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