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Wisconsin. Seminary in Statistical Research. Harry Jerome, 1937-38


Harry Jerome taught statistics in the economics department of the University of Wisconsin from 1915-1938. The following course materials for a research seminar that he taught were found in Milton Friedman’s papers at the Hoover Institution in a file “Student Years”. Since there is no indication of either university or instructor for these materials and with only the course number and academic year to go on, it seems likely that an archivist presumed these might have been from a course at Chicago or Columbia which can be clearly seen not to be the case upon consulting the respective course catalogues.

Possible explanations why Milton Friedman had this Wisconsin material was that he was recruited by Harold Groves as a potential successor to Harry Jerome in the economics department and the material was sent to him in the course of the recruitment or that Friedman came across the stuff in his review of statistics instruction at Wisconsin. In any event, given Friedman’s and Jerome’s common NBER connection, it is not surprising that a research seminar on Wisconsin income statistics would be something that Milton Friedman was naturally interested in.



Harry Jerome (1886-1938)

“Professor Harry Jerome, economist and author, was born March 7, 1886, to Sarah and Moses Jerome at Bloomington, Illinois, and died September 12, 1938, at Madison, Wisconsin. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1914 and took his post-graduate work there, receiving his Ph.D. degree in 1918.

He was instructor in economics from 1914 to 1918 at Wisconsin. From that year until his death in 1938 he held the position of professor of economics at Wisconsin, and was chairman of the economics department from 1931 until 1936.

In 1919 and 1920 Jerome was district assessor of incomes for the Wisconsin State Tax Commission. He was a member of the staff of the National Bureau of Economic Research from 1923 to 1925, and was one of the directors of that organization for many years. He also served as a member of the advisory board for an income tax study by the Wisconsin Tax Commission. From 1936 he was consultant for a survey of productivity and changing industrial techniques by the Federal Works Progress Administration in cooperation with the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Jerome was the author of three books, Statistical Methods (1924), Migration and Business Cycles (1926), and Mechanization In Industry (1934).”

Source: Harry Jerome Papers, Finding Aid. Wisconsin Historical Society.


Research Tip: Boxes 5 and 6 of Harry Jerome’s papers at the Wisconsin Historical Society  have material on the NBER and the Wisconsin department of economics.



Course Announcement

[Econ.] 230. SEMINARY IN STATISTICAL RESEARCH. Yr; 2 cr. Cooperative research in one or more economic problems, each member of the class concentrating on a selected phase of the common subject. Subject for 1937-38: amount and distribution of wealth and income, with special attention to Wisconsin. Reports on current developments in statistical method. Fee $1.00. 7:15-9:15 Th. Mr. Jerome.

Source: Copy of page 148 from the course catalogue of the University of Wisconsin College of Letters and Science for 1937-38 that was provided Economics in the Rear-View Mirror by fellow historian of economics Professor Marianne Johnson of the College of Business, University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh.


Course Materials from Econ 230, University of Wisconsin


List for Review in Econ. 230, 1937-38

  1. W. I. King, The Wealth and Income of the People of the United States.
  2. National Bureau of Economic Research: Vol. I, Income in the United States
  3. Same as (2) – Volume II.
  4. Federal Trade Commission, National Wealth and Income, 69th 1st. Sess. Sen. Doc. No. 126.
  5. W. I. King, The National Income and its Purchasing Power. (NBER)
  6. Maurice Leven, et al, America’s Capacity to Consume (Brookings)
  7. Robert F. Martin, National Income and its Elements (NICB)
  8. U. S. Department of Commerce:

National Income, 1929-36, supplemented by National Income, 1929-32, Sen. Doc. 124, 72d Cong. 2d Session, 1934; and National Income in the United States, 1929-35.

  1. Simon Kuznets, National Income, 1919-35, NBER Bul. 66, supplemented by bulletin on National Income and Capital Formation, (in press).
  2. Harold G. Moulton, The Formation of Capital (Brookings)
  3. Robert F. Martin, Income in Agriculture, 1929-35 (NICB)
  4. Colin Clark, National Income and Outlay (Great Britain)
  5. John A. Slaughter, Income Received in the Various States, 1929-35, (NICB)



  1. Agriculture
  2. Manufacturing
  3. Construction
  4. Transportation

Railroads and other freight and passenger traffic

  1. Other public utilities
  2. Trade: wholesale and retail
  3. Finance
  4. Service occupations
  5. Government



  1. A plan for estimating income and number of recipients below the reporting levels for income tax purposes.
  2. Methods of estimating income from currently available data, for tax administration purposes
  3. Distribution of income in Wisconsin by objects of expenditure
  4. Geographical distribution of Wisconsin income
  5. Interstate movement of income: to and from Wisconsin



  1. Estimates of distribution of wealth in a selected county or counties, based on probate records.



REPORTS FOR October 14, 21 and 28.

  1. A. L. Bowley, “The Definition of National Income”, Econ. Journal, vol. xxxii (1929), pp. 1-11.
  2. Simon Kuznets, “National Income”, in Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, Vol. II, pp. 205-224.
  3. J. Stamp, “Methods used in different countries for estimating national income; with discussion. Royal Statistical Society Journal. 97 No. 3: 423-66; no. 4: 541-57.

Papers in Studies in Income and Wealth (as yet unpublished [NBER, 1937])
by the Conference on Research in National Income and Wealth:

  1. Gerhard Colm, “Public Revenue and Public Expenditure in National Income”
  2. M. A. Copeland, “Concepts of National Income”
  3. Solomon Fabricant, “On the Treatment of Corporate Savings in the Measurement of National Income”
  4. Simon Kuznets, “Changing Inventory Valuations and Their Effect on Business Savings and on National Income Produced”
  5. Solomon Kuznets, “Some Problems in Measuring Per Capita Labor Income”
  6. Carl Shoup, “The Distinction between ‘Net’ and ‘Gross’ in Income Taxation
  7. O. C. Stine, “Income Parity for Agriculture”


Source: Hoover Institution Archives. Papers of Milton Friedman. Box 5, Folder 12 “Student years”.

Image Source:University of Wisconsin’s Carillon Tower from Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 .


Irwin Collier

Posted by: Irwin Collier