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Harvard. Ph.D. Economics Alumnus, Arthur Harrison Cole


Many Harvard Ph.D.’s in economics went on to careers across the Charles River at the Harvard Business School. The economic historian, Arthur Harrison Cole, is best known as having been the Librarian of the Business School’s Baker Library and also the executive director of the Research Center in Entrepreneurial History at the Business School. 

Arthur Harrison Cole’s doctoral examination fields can be found at this post. His dissertation is included in this list of Harvard economics Ph.D.’s through 1926.


From the Report of the President of Harvard College, 1973-74

Arthur Harrison Cole, who died November 10, 1974 in his 85th year, was Professor of Business Economics, Emeritus and former Librarian of the Baker Library at the School of Business Administration. Called a “pivotal figure” in the growth of the Library, Cole boldly reorganized and reclassified its collections, transforming it into a distinguished, scholarly institution. He presented to the Library the records of the first cotton manufacturing concern in this country which he had discovered in Webster, Massachusetts while a doctoral student. From this experience came his long professional interest in the changing ways of American business. His two-volume work, The American Wool Manufacture (1926), is still an important source book on the subject, and the Research Center in Entrepreneurial History at the School of Business Administration was largely his project — he was executive director from 1948 to 1958. After graduation from Bowdoin College in 1911 Cole received the A.M. and Ph.D. degrees from Harvard in 1913 and 1916. In 1913 he was appointed Assistant in Economics in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and in 1916 Instructor in Economics and Tutor in the Division of History, Government and Economics. He became an Assistant Professor in 1926 and Associate Professor in 1928. His service at the Business School commenced in 1929 when he was made Administrative Curator of the Baker Library. In 1932 he became Librarian of Baker and in 1933 was elected Professor of Business Economics. His activity in his field continued after his retirement in 1956. He was an editor and a prolific writer who published in many journals. A slight but charming evidence of his editorship was Charleston Goes to Harvard, the diary of a Harvard student from South Carolina during one term in 1831. Cole’s most recent book was The Birth of a New Social Sciences Discipline: The Achievements of the First Generation of American Business Historians, 1893-1974. A room in Baker Library devoted to corporate publications is scheduled to be dedicated to his memory this spring.

Source: Harvard University. Report of the President of Harvard College and Reports of Departments, 1973-74, pp. 32-3.

Image Source: Harvard Business School Yearbook 1930-1931, p. 39.


Irwin Collier

Posted by: Irwin Collier

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