Friday, May 26, 2017

Monetary Policy for Dummies

Cartoon description of Tarrifs and their impact on economyIn his 1657 Lettres Provinciales, French philosopher and mathematician Blaise Pascal quipped: “I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time.” This pithy expression captures the genius behind The Story of Bretton Woods (a topic we covered ourselves less graphically a few weeks ago). Equipped with 20 illustrated pages and simple vocabulary, this WWII-era pamphlet informed American children about the 1944 Bretton Woods Conference. The conference’s express purpose was to create a stable financial order for the postwar world. Explaining these ideas at any length is notable, but this pamphlet’s concision sets it apart.

cartoon depiction of economic warfare
For five cents per copy, parents could educate their children about “the kind of world we make for them now.” Yet, we suspect The Story of Bretton Woods had an ulterior motive. Stocked with the twin virtues of brevity and clarity, it could effectively mobilize the voting age population to support the conference’s legislation. We are uncertain whether the pamphlet targeted adults, but its educational value is clear 70 years later.

"Cover to Bretton Woods is no Mystery" depicting a baby reading a newspaperTo see The Story of Bretton Woods, ask for ML-3, box 108, folder 6. As bonus there is another example of Bretton Woods simply explained for lay people, Bretton Woods is no Mystery.

Posted for Drew Leonard '19

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Bursting the Dartmouth Bubble

Image of title "A Dialogue written for commencement. D. College August 22, 1804. By Stephen Farley& Avery Williams."When Dartmouth was a young institution and still situated in a "wilderness" without easy access to Boston, New York, or even Lebanon (let alone radio, television, movies, or the internet), you could image the "Dartmouth bubble" would have been a lot worse than it is today. When you came to campus in 1800, there really wasn't much of anything you could do outside of the tiny town of Hanover. But, we have an amazing bit of evidence from 1804 that the students were looking outwardly and applying their education to the broader world. That year two graduating seniors wrote and performed, as part of their commencement ceremony, a blank verse work entitled "A Dialogue on the Revolution in St. Domingo between Toussaint and Dessalines."

Page one of the hand-written "Dialogue" from 1804.
What? Two guys in the boonies of New Hampshire portraying Haitian revolutionaries just as Haiti is establishing its independence? What? They hadn't been to Haiti on an FSP and didn't even have the internet to help them with their research? Such a very cool bursting of the Dartmouth bubble!

You can see the original by asking for DA-43, Box 3112. We also have an easier-to-read transcription prepared by Errol Hill in 1989 at DC Hist F1923.F35.