Richard R. John to Speak on "Antimonopoly: The Commercial Origins of an American Obsession" at the Columbia New York City Business History Forum
NEW YORK, March 2, 2011 –

The first spring lecture of Columbia University's New York City Business History Forum will be given by communications historian Richard R. John on Wednesday, March 9 at 7:00pm in Butler Library, room 523. Professor John, of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, will present an illustrated lecture on "Antimonopoly: The Commercial Origins of an American Obsession." The talk is open to the public and a reception will immediately follow.


Big business critics have long warned of the dangers of economic consolidation, but so, too, have business leaders. Since the Gilded Age, vilified financiers like Jay Gould set the tone that prompted historians to term an entire generation of business leaders "robber barons." Professor John's lecture will show how in the nineteenth-century, American merchants, promoters, and industrialists popularized an antimonopoly tradition that still retains relevance today.

Professor John is a historian who specializes in the political economy of communications in the United States. He is the author of many essays and two books-- Spreading the News: The American Postal System from Franklin to Morse (Harvard, 1995) and Network Nation: Inventing American Telecommunications (Harvard, 2010). John has been a fellow at the Newberry Library in Chicago and the Smithsonian Institution's Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, D. C., and has served as a visiting professor at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) in Paris. He is currently the president of the Business History Conference, an international professional society dedicated to the study of institutional history.

The Business History Forum is co-sponsored by Columbia Business School, Columbia Journalism School, the Herbert H. Lehman Center for American History, and the Rare Book & Manuscript Library. The Forum features speakers who address the past, present and future of industries that have been and, in many cases, continue to be important to the development of New York City, including accounting; finance; law; media; real estate/development; theater; and trade. It brings together academic experts, industry practitioners, students, and the public.

For further information, contact Eric Wakin, Lehman Curator for American History, To RSVP, please email

The Herbert H. Lehman Center for American History is dedicated to supporting and enhancing the study and teaching of American history at Columbia University. It places special emphasis on political history, the history of New York City and State, human rights history, and comparative and interdisciplinary work. The Center also promotes the study of the accomplishments of Herbert H. Lehman, the former governor of and senator from New York, whose papers are held as part of the Lehman Collection at Columbia University's Rare Book and Manuscript Library. The Director of the Herbert H. Lehman Center is Professor Kenneth T. Jackson, the Jacques Barzun Professor of History and Social Sciences at Columbia.  For more information, please see:

The Rare Book & Manuscript Library owns over 500,000 rare books in some 20 book collections and almost 28 million manuscripts in nearly 3,000 separate manuscript collections. It is particularly strong in English and American literature and history, classical authors, children‘s literature, education, mathematics and astronomy, economics and banking, photography, the history of printing, New York City politics, librarianship, and the performing arts. Individual collections are as eclectic as they are extensive. For more information, please see: /content/libraryweb/indiv/rbml.html

03/02/11 EHD