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Harvard. Undergraduate Honors Economic Theory Readings. Duesenberry and Kaysen, 1951-52



For some reason the annual Report of the President of Harvard College for 1951-52 does not include the staffing and enrollment figures for courses offered during the academic year. I have been using these annual reports to verify the actual staffing for courses because the course announcements are sometimes inaccurate, being by their nature listings published before the academic year gets going, but at least certainly before the second semester begins. Many times, though not always, there is an instructor’s name at the head of the course reading assignments that have been filed with the library for placing items on reading reserve. Thus for the undergraduate honors course “Economic Theory and Policy” (Economics 101), I am only certain that James Duesenberry taught the first semester (he is named in the Crimson article excerpt below, also in the course announcement, and finally on the first semester reading list itself). Carl Kaysen is mentioned in the course announcement for the second semester of the course, but there is no name on the second semester reading list nor can I verify without an ex post staffing report for the course. Let’s just say there is a strong presumption that Carl Kaysen indeed taught the second semester of Economics 101.

Note the second semester reading list ends with “to be continued” but, alas,  there is no further list to be found in the file.


Harvard Crimson Report

Three Steps to Economics

The Department’s courses have been organized on three levels, although Economics 1 is the only prerequisite for any course. Economics 1 is the first level course, a dull but thorough introduction to the field. A department committee is now at work considering revising the curriculum, and it is hoped that this basic course will be brighter next year.

There are four courses on the second level, each covering a division of the department. Theory and Policy (101) discusses current theories of production, exchange, and distribution. Professor Duesenberry will take over complete charge of this course next year. It is generally considered dull but important. Almost all of the students are honors candidates, and the course is graded accordingly….

Source: The Harvard Crimson, April 28, 1950.


Course Announcement

For Undergraduates and Graduates

The courses for Undergraduates and Graduates, unless otherwise stated, are open only to students who have passed in Economics 1.

Economics 101. Economic Theory and Policy

Full course. Mon., Wed., and (at the pleasure of the instructor) Fri., at 12.
Fall term
: Assistant Professor Duesenberry; Spring term: Assistant Professor Kaysen.

Current theories of production, exchange, and the distribution of the national income, with some indications as to their relevance to contemporary economic problems. The course will be carried on mainly by discussion. It is intended primarily for candidates for the degree with honors and may be taken only with the consent of the instructor.


Source. Final Announcement of the Courses of Instruction Offered by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences During 1951-52. Official Register of Harvard University, Vol. XLVIII (September 10, 1951) No. 21, p. 76.


James S. Duesenberry

Economics 101a—Economic Theory
Fall term, 1951-52

I. The Problems of Economics

Samuelson: Economics. Chapter 1
Phelps-Brown: Framework of the Pricing System. Chapter 1
Council of Economic Advisers: Mid-year Report. July 1951


II. The Classical System

Ricardo: Principles of Political Economy and Taxation. Chapters 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 21
Mill: Principles of Political Economy. Book I, Chapters 4, 5, 6, 10, 11, 12, 13
Book II, Chapters 11, 12, 13, 15, 16
Baumol: Economic Dynamics. Chapter 2


III. General Equilibrium Theory

Phelps-Brown: Framework of the Pricing System. Chapters 2-5
Marshall: Principles of Economics 8th edition. Books V and VI
Stigler: Theories of Production and Distribution. Chapters 4, 9


Economics 101, Spring Term 1951-52
Reading List

I. The Keynesian System

  1. Keynes, General Theory, Chs. 1-3, 8-11, 13, 15, 18
  2. J. R. Hicks, “Mr. Keynes and the Classics”, No. 24 in Blakiston, Readings in Business Cycle Theory.
  3. L. R. Klein, The Keynesian Revolution, Ch. 1-3.


II. Dynamics

  1. Keynesian Dynamics
    1. Keynes, General Theory, Ch. 22
    2. E. D. Domar, “Expansion and Employment,” American Economic Review, March 1947
    3. W. J. Fellner, Monetary Policy and Full Employment, Ch. 1, 2, 3
  2. Schumpeterian Dynamics
    1. Schumpeter, Business Cycles, Volume I, Ch. 3, 4, 6
  3. Marxian Dynamics
    1. Schumpeter, Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy, Ch. 1-4
    2. J. Robinson, Essay on Marxian Economics
  4. General Review
    1. W. J. Baumol, Economic Dynamics, Chs. 3, 4

[to be continued]

Source:   Harvard University Archives. Syllabi, course outlines and reading lists in Economics, 1895-2003. Fox 5, Folder “Economics, 1951-1952 (1 of 2)”.

Image Source: Duesenberry in Harvard Class Album 1951; Kaysen as 1955 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellow

Irwin Collier

Posted by: Irwin Collier