The PDF version contains additional topic search links: DOWNLOAD THE PDF VERSION HERE


Goldsmiths’ Library of Economic Literature at Senate House Library, University of London, contains more than 70,000 printed books, pamphlets, periodicals, manuscripts, broadsides, and proclamations from the fifteenth to the twentieth centuries. Along with the Kress collection at Harvard University, Goldsmiths’ forms the basis of the 356-reel microfilm product first published in the mid-1970s by Research Publications in New Haven, Conn. For an appreciation of the groundbreaking impact of this publication, see the September 1978 issue of Journal of Economic Literature, which features the essay “Democracy Returns to the Library: The Goldsmiths'-Kress Library of Economic Literature” by David O. Whitten.

In 2004, Gale released the digital version of the database as The Making of the Modern World, 1450-1850 (MOMW). Since MOMW’s initial appearance, thousands of unpublished or newly acquired titles have been identified at the University of London, and these titles form the basis of the third and fourth modules of the digital archive at your fingertips. The Making of the Modern World: Part IV, 1800 – 1890 comprises over 8,000 items.

Goldsmiths’ is based on the original collection in the library of the academic economist and bibliophile at Cambridge University, Herbert Somerton Foxwell (1849-1936). Foxwell described his library of approximately 30,000 items as “a collection of books and tracts intended to serve as the basis for the study of the industrial, commercial, monetary and financial history of the United Kingdom, as well as of the gradual development of economic science generally.”

The Foxwell library was purchased by the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths and presented to the University of London in 1903. Gifts from the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths have enabled Senate House Library to augment the collection ever since. Additions have included the purchase of the Sabatier Collection (1906), Sheffield Collection (1907), Rastrick Collection (1908), Temperance Collection (1930), and Reform Club pamphlets (1964). Further enhancements include periodicals, biographies, and bound pamphlet collections, such as the Aldenham bound pamphlet collections, the Gray, the de Grey, and the Ludlow bound pamphlet collections. The Gray, de Grey, and Reform Club pamphlet collections are unique to MOMW: Part IV. Also specific to MOMW: Part IV are 686 Reform Club pamphlets dated 1800-1860.

Senate House Library remains an active acquiring institution, whose future purchases will present new avenues of research. Major subject fields include economic thought, financial and monetary policy, the British Empire and its colonial history, slavery, railway and transport history, the history technology, travel writing, temperance, poverty, poor laws, socialism, and the condition of the working class.

Central to the collection is the evolution of modern economic thought. The orthodox “classical economics” of Adam Smith and David Ricardo did not metamorphose into neoclassical economics overnight. The recasting of perspectives occurred gradually, over the course of the nineteenth century, and this change can be traced throughout the archive. For example, the idea of marginal utility had existed in economic literature for centuries, in writings from Aristotle to Jeremy Bentham, as documented in texts in Gale’s Eighteenth Century Collections Online and MOMW, Part I: The Goldsmiths'-Kress Collection, 1450-1850. However, in the 1870s three academic economists stand out as having influence on the early development of marginal analysis. Working independently, they showed that the value, or price, of a commodity depends upon the marginal utility of the commodity to the consumer. In 1871 W.S. Jevons published his Theory of Political Economy in English. Carl Mengers published Principles of Economics in German. Three years later, the French economist Léon Walras published Elements of Pure Economics in French.

In 1890, Alfred Marshall, who taught with Foxwell at Cambridge University, the nerve center of the new economic thinking, published what is considered the original overarching synthesis of the new marginal concept that forms the basis of modern microeconomics. Marshall fused all of the developments of the previous decades into a well-rounded theory of household, firms, and markets in his seminal, Principles of Economics. These texts are to be found here and in MOMW: Part III.

The Making of the Modern World fills out – in unexpected ways – the field of Victorian Studies. It helps to uncover the changing mentality and attitudes of Victorian writers across the social sciences and across various locations. The topic searches that follow, some of which focus on a single year or event or policy debate or language other than English, illustrate the broad range and depth of the collection.


* “Catholic Emancipation”
Catholic Emancipation was the major political issue in Great Britain in the 1820s. The campaign for it had gone on in Ireland since the act of Union in 1801. The Catholic Emancipation Act passed by parliament in 1829 was the culmination of a long political process that brought civil rights to Catholics. The subsequent history of developments in Ireland throughout the nineteenth century may be traced in searching “Roman Catholic Relief Act” (1829); or by searching the Catholic Question
and Ireland.


* “The Peculiar Institution.” The Slave Power in the United States and Cuba

In the nineteenth century slavery increasingly repulsed the moral conscience of parts of the Western world. It was abolished in the British colonies in 1833 and in the French colonies in 1848. Yet in the American South, whose economy was completely dependent on slave labor, there was no appetite to let go of “the peculiar institution.” For an examination of American slavery in the years prior to the American Civil War search “peculiar institution” or “slave power.” Esclavitud -- slavery in Spanish – renders good results on Cuba.

Slavery in Spanish – esclavitud – uncovers the debate in Cuba, which is inextricably linked to the sugar trade:


* “The Great Boom”
The period of the 1850s and 1860s experienced unprecedented growth. Investors took advantage of cheap capital and the rapid rise of prices. At one point in this period, the rate of profit on paid-up capital of the Crédit mobilier of Paris, one of Europe’s leading finance companies, reached fifty percent. During the boom employment skyrocketed. The bottom fell out in 1873 and two decades of depression followed. Search: “Crédit mobilier” in the period 1848-1875.


* “Great Exhibition of 1851”
The economic triumph and industrial progress at midcentury brought about new rituals for the display of wealth -- the industrial trade show or world’s fair. The Crystal Palace in London (1851), featured 14,000 firms. It was followed by Paris (1855), London (1862), Vienna (1873), and the Philadelphia Centennial (1876) in the Unites States. Each exhibition attracted tourists in astronomical numbers. Search Great Exhibition of 1851.


* Imperialism: Britain and China. “Treaty ports, Hong Kong, and the opium trade”

British involvement in wars in China in the late 1830s and 1840s originated in the clash of two irreconcilable policies. The Chinese were determined to maintain their isolation, and the British were determined to break it down. The immediate issue was the opium trade from India to China, a trade that helped the British balance its trading account with China, when Britain sold little to China and imported large amounts of silk and tea. The Treaty of Nanking in 1842 ceded Hong Kong to Britain. Search “Hong Kong” and “Opium trade.”


* “Imperialism: India in the mid-Victorian Era”
For the British presence in India around the time of the Indian Rebellion of 1857 select a geographical area, such as “Hyderabad,” for rich results.


* “John Stuart Mill”
The mid-Victorian liberal consensus was most clearly distilled in the life and works of John Stuart Mill (1806-1873). Mill, a highly original thinker, contributed significantly to the fields of economics, political science, and philosophy. Although a gifted economic theoretician, Mill’s intellectual background led him toward a social philosophy that aimed to improve the role of the individual in society. In Principles of Political Economy (1848) he offered a synthesis of the major doctrines of classical political economy. His work was translated into multiple languages. Search “Mill” as author and/or J.S. Mill as keyword.




Any views and opinions expressed in these essays are those of the author in question, and any views or opinions from the original source material are those of the publication in question. Gale, part of Cengage Group, provides facsimile reproductions of original sources and do not endorse or dispute the content contained in them. Author affiliation and information within them are correct as of the original publication date.