Edward H. Chamberlin papers, 1896-2017

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Chamberlin, Edward, 1899-1967
Edward Chamberlin (1899-1967) was a professor emeritus of economics at Harvard University. This collection primarily documents his professional life through his correspondence, research, and writings. It was acquired as part of the Economists' Papers Archive.
31.5 Linear Feet (26 boxes and two oversize folders.)
Material in English and French.
Collection ID:


Scope and content:

This collection documents Chamberlin's career as an economist and professor. It provides an overview of his professional activities, particularly his research and writings on topics such as monopolistic competition, market structure, pricing behavior, economies of scale, and collective bargaining, among others. The collection also documents his correspondence with prominent economists and individuals such as Marice Allais, Luigi Einaudi, Dwight Eisenhower, Howard S. Ellis, Milton Friedman, John Kenneth Galbraith, Gottfried Haberler, Frank Hahn, Roy Harrod, Friedrich A. Hayek, Richard Kahn, Nicholas Kaldor, Frank Knight, Emil Lederer, Wassily Leontief, Abba Lerner, Gertrud Lovasy, Fritz Machlup, Hans Neisser, J. F. Normano, Francois Perroux, Dennis H. Robertson, Joan Robinson, Paul Samuelson, Thomas Schelling, Robert Schuman, Joseph Schumpeter, Ben Seligman, George Stigler, Frank Taussig, Gerhard Tintner, Jaroslav Vanek, Jacob Viner, and many others.

Along with his scholarship and writings, the collection documents Chamberlin's roles in the American Economic Association, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Council of Economic Advisers, and the Rockefeller Foundation project to aid refugee scholars fleeing Europe during the 1930s; his editorship of the Quarterly Journal of Economics; his speaking engagements; expert testimony in legal proceedings and before houses of the United States Congress; and his departmental roles, committee work, and teaching contributions at Harvard. The collection also contains personal artifacts documenting Chamberlin's service in the National Guard during World War I, his service as a member of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) during World War II, as well as awards and honorary degrees.

Biographical / historical:

Edward Hastings Chamberlin (1899-1967) was a white American academic economist born in LaConner, Washington. He died at age 68 on 16 July 1967 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He earned his undergraduate degree in economics at the University of Iowa in 1920, completed an MA in economics at the University of Michigan (where he took classes with Fred M. Taylor) in 1922, and completed his PhD in Economics at Harvard University in 1927 (studying with Allyn Young). He joined the Economics Department at Harvard in 1932 and would remain there until his retirement in 1965.

During World War II, he served in the European theater of operations with the Office of Strategic Services, and was tasked by the Supreme Allied Command with insuring success of Allied troops through detecting enemy espionage and sabotage. He consulted for Eisenhower's Council of Economic Advisers and Committee of the Arts and Sciences and lectured at the US State Department's Foreign Service Institute. He also had notable engagement with the Catholic Economic Association and Catholic Commission on Intellectual and Cultural Affairs.

Chamberlin is arguably most well known for developing the theory of monopolistic competition simultaneously with Joan Robinson. He wrote extensively on theories of competition and market structure (particularly monopolistic competition), product differentiation, firms' pricing decisions, excess capacity, economies of scale, and labor unions. Chamberlin had notable scholarly engagements with Cambridge, UK economists Richard Kahn, Nicholas Kaldor, and Joan Robinson, among others; and University of Chicago economists Milton Friedman, Frank Knight, and George Stigler.

Acquisition information:
The Edward H. Chamberlin papers were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library as a gift from Tim Spalding in 2019.
Processing information:

Processed by Jonathan Cogliano, 2019.

Accessions described in this collection guide: 2019-0044.

This material was received as one accession from descendants of Chamberlin. Collection dates extend beyond his lifetime due to the presence of items once belonging to members of his immediate family, particularly his wife Lucienne, and family requests to the National Archives for documents from his service with the Office of Strategic Services during World War II. The index of his correspondence provided by Thibault Guicherd is available in the collection control file.


The Edward H. Chamberlin papers are arranged into six series: Correspondence, Conferences and Organizations, Writings, Research and Notes, Academia, and Personal.

Rules or conventions:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard


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Access restricted. Some materials in this collection include student records. In accordance with the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 as amended, Duke University permits students to inspect their education records and limits the disclosure of personally identifiable information from education records. Contact Research Services for more information.

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The copyright interests in this collection have not been transferred to Duke University. For more information, consult the Rubenstein Library's Citations, Permissions, and Copyright guide.

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Preferred citation:

[Identification of item], Edward H. Chamberlin papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Duke University.