Published online by Cambridge University Press: 11 June 2009
This paper investigates the actions of a small, yet influential group of American economists who sought to claim economic history for themselves and use it as a springboard to launch a wider transformation of economics. Their actions constitute an episode of dissent in the history of twentieth century economics, albeit an unusual one. These dissenters were not a socially or intellectually marginalized group, but rather a set of privileged scholars who were able to leverage their contacts within the profession and amongst its patrons to further their vision. Their actions could almost be described in Kuhnian terms: they consciously sought to trigger a “paradigm shift” to bring about a social science better suited, in their views, to a world in political and economic turmoil (Kuhn 1962). In spite of the Kuhnian allusion to “scientific revolution,” this paper is not about the 1960s “cliometric revolution,” but about the 1940s and '50s and the little known events that led to the creation of the Economic History Association, the Journal of Economic History, and Explorations in Entrepreneurial History (subsequently Explorations in Economic History).