H. Gregg Lewis papers, 1939-1990

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Lewis, H. Gregg
H. Gregg Lewis (1914-1992) was a professor emeritus of economics at Duke University and the University of Chicago. This collection documents his professional life through his research, writings, and teaching. It forms part of the Economists' Papers Archive.
28.5 Linear Feet (19 boxes.)
Material in English.
Collection ID:


Scope and content:

This collection is chiefly comprised of research and background material for Gregg's book Union Relative Wage Effects: A Survey (1986) and a collection of various academic articles (mostly working papers on various topics in labor economics). Types of material include book manuscripts; drafts of papers (including unpublished articles); correspondence; lecture notes and syllabi; referee reports; administrative paperwork associated with the University of Chicago; and papers written by other economists. The primary subjects are labor economics, trade unions, and relative wage effects. There is important or substantial correspondence with Gary Becker, Walter Oi, Albert Reese, Sherwin Rosen, and Finis Welch.

The Research Notes, Drafts and Proofs series contains material related to Lewis' book Union Relative Wage Effects: A Survey (1986). His two books are more than just summaries of the existing literature; they also involved extensive work of his own; he recalculated a substantial amount of the data presented in the studies in order to replace or correct what he perceived as errors. As such, this series contains much more than background notes, manuscripts, and proofs. It is comprised of approximately 300 folders, grouped together by him and sequentially numbered within the groupings. A single folder might contain an article/study; notes on that article (e.g., on data sources and coverage, sample restrictions, controls, and definitions of variables); correspondence with the authors of the studies asking for clarification on statistics, variables, and equations; notes showing the numbers which he obtained in reworking the authors' calculations; and manuscript drafts of each chapter.

The Articles, Comments, and Notes series contains articles written by Lewis--many of which were never published. These include: "How Americans Use their Time" (1975), "Notes on Partial Equilibrium Analysis" (1975), "Notes on Corner Problems in Production and Utility Theory" (no date), "Unionism, Wages and Employment in US Coal Mining, 1945-68" (1971), "Notes on the Shadow Price of Household Time" (no date), "The Impact of Unionism on Relative Wages in the US" (1963), "Employer Interests in Employee Hours of Work" (late 1960s), "Notes on the Economics of Hours of Work" (1967), and various article reprints and comments that were published during the 1930s-1950s. This series also contains drafts of comments on colleagues' papers that were published. In addition, there are background notes on various topics, e.g., notes on a paper that he and Gary Becker worked on jointly regarding the interaction between the quantity and quality of children. This series also contains a copy of Lewis' PhD thesis, "Studies in the Elasticity of the Demand for Steel" (1947).

The Correspondence series is a substantive collection of letters Lewis wrote to fellow economists or received from them. It also includes a file containing referee reports, mostly done for the Journal of Political Economy. Note that the "University of Chicago" file excludes those pieces of correspondence with Albert Reese, who served as the Chairman of the Department of Economics during the 1960s. Instead, those letters are found in the file "Correspondence with Al Reese." The file titled "University of Chicago Department of Economics" contains correspondence that mostly relates to administrative duties that Lewis had as Director of Graduate Studies. Note that the "Milton Friedman" file is sparse, containing only three letters written between Friedman and Lewis. The "AEA Distinguished Fellow, 1981" file contains letters of congratulations from friends and colleagues upon his receipt of this award.

The Teaching series contains lecture notes for classes taught both at the University of Chicago and at Duke. In addition, there are five files on University of Chicago dissertations which he supervised even after moving to Duke.

Finally, the Colleagues' Articles: Indexed series contains working papers and any handwritten notes (e.g., Lewis' calculations) on these papers. There are also pieces of correspondence related to the papers interspersed throughout this series.

Biographical / historical:
Date Event
1914, May 9
Born in Homer, MI
BA, Economics, University of Chicago
Faculty member, University of Chicago; at various times he was also Research Associate at Cowles Commission, Director of Graduate Studies, and Director of Chicago-Latin American Program (Chile and Argentina projects)
Economist, President's Emergency Railroad Board
6th Regional War Labor Board (Chicago office): War Labor Board's liaison with Armed Forces, 1943-June 1944; Assistant Wage Stabilization Director, June 1944-April 1945
Served in US Army Air Force
PhD, Economics, University of Chicago
Faculty Research Fellow, Ford Foundation
Unionism and Relative Wages in the United States
Quantrell Prize, University of Chicago
Professor, Duke University
1976, Aug.
Special Issue of Journal of Political Economy: "Essays in Labor Economics: In Honor of H. Gregg Lewis," ed. Gary S. Becker
Distinguished Fellow, American Economics Association
Lead article, inaugural issue of Journal of Labor Economics
Scholar-Teacher Award, Duke University, sponsored by United Methodist Church
Retired from Duke University
Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences
Union Relative Wage Effects: A Survey
1992, Jan. 25
Died in Chapel Hill, NC

H. Gregg Lewis (1914-1922), one of the founders of modern labor economics, brought an empirical approach to a field then dominated by the institutionalist school. He studied topics that included the allocation of time between market and non-market activities, the allocation of labor among alternative uses, and the compensation of labor. It is the topic of the influence of trade unions on wage differentials, however, to which he contributed the bulk of his published work. His first book, titled Unionism and Relative Wages in the United States: an Empirical Enquiry was published in 1963, and his second book, Union Relative Wage Effects: A Survey was published in 1986.

Lewis was linked to the University of Chicago Department of Economics for over forty years, first as an undergraduate and then as a graduate student, but for most of this time as a faculty member. As such, his career was inextricably linked to the events and personages of Chicago. He studied under Lloyd Mints, Henry Schultz, and Henry Simons, and later was a colleague of Paul Douglas, Ted Schultz, Gale Johnson, Albert Reese, Al Harberger, Milton Friedman, Harry Johnson, Robert Fogel, and James Heckman.

Acquisition information:
The H. Gregg Lewis papers were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library as gifts between 1989-1992.
Processing information:

Processed by Joanna Vinluan, November 1998.

Encoded by Don Sechler.

"Lewis threw away many of his papers upon moving from the University of Chicago to Duke University in 1976. He only kept half a file drawer filled with longer letters. At Duke, without a personal secretary to file for him, he discarded most items as he finished with them." From notes of Bob Byrd, Director of the Special Collections Libary, H. Gregg Lewis collection control file.


The H. Gregg Lewis papers are arranged into five series: Research Notes, Drafts and Proofs; Articles, Comments and Notes; Correspondence; Teaching; and Colleagues' Articles: Indexed.

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Preferred citation:

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