H. Gregg Lewis papers, 1939-1990
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- Lewis, H. Gregg
28.5 Linear Feet
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- Scope and Content:
The papers of H. Gregg Lewis, an economist and university professor, span the period 1939 to 1990 with the bulk of the collection dating from the early 1980s. The collection is comprised chiefly of research and background materials for his book Union Relative Wage Effects: A Survey (University of Chicago Press, 1986), and of a collection of various academic articles (mostly working papers on various topics in labor economics). Materials represented in this particular collection include book manuscripts; drafts of papers (including unpublished articles); correspondence; lecture notes and syllabi for several classes taught at Chicago and for others at Duke; referee reports; administrative paperwork associated with the University of Chicago; and papers written by other economists. The primary subjects covered in this collection are: labor economics, trade unions and relative wage effects, University of Chicago Department of Economics, and Duke University Department of Economics. Important and/or substantial correspondence includes those with Gary Becker, Walter Oi, Albert Reese, Sherwin Rosen, and Finis Welch.
H. Gregg Lewis, one of the founders of modern labor economics, brought an unbiased, empirical approach to a field then dominated by the institutionalist school. According to Sherwin Rosen, "Professor Lewis was a pioneer in promoting empirical research with strong microeconomic foundations and in expanding the range of substantive problems that were amenable to economic analysis. This may be his most important legacy to economics." (Rosen, 1994).
A meticulous researcher, Lewis trained his methodical, detail-oriented eye on 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 Lewis 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, to name a few of the eminent economists at the University of Chicago during his tenure there.
The papers are organized in series as follows: Research Notes, Drafts and Proofs Series; Articles, Comments and Notes Series; Correspondence Series; Teaching Materials Series; and Colleagues' Articles: Indexed Series.
The Research Notes, Drafts and Proofs Series dates from around the early 1980s and contains all material found in the collection which relate to Professor Lewis' book Union Relative Wage Effects: A Survey (University of Chicago Press, 1986). His two books are more than just summaries of the existing literature; they also involved extensive work of his own. For example, 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 the expected background notes, manuscripts, and proofs. It is comprised of approximately 300 manila folders, each meticulously grouped together by Lewis and sequentially numbered within the groupings. A single manila 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 Lewis obtained in reworking the authors' calculations; and manuscript drafts of each chapter. His 1986 book is essentially a synthesis of a number of studies on the relative wage effects of unions, and an update of his earlier Unionism and Relative Wages in the United States: an Empirical Enquiry (University of Chicago Press, 1963). In his second book, Lewis looked specifically at different studies written post-1963 that analyzed the union versus non-union relative wage differential. These studies largely use micro data on individual workers for structural modeling. Unlike his 1963 book, most of the studies analyzed in Union Relative Wage Effects are not University of Chicago economics theses.
The Articles, Comments, and Notes Series contains articles written by Professor 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 U.S. Coal Mining, 1945-68" (1971), "Notes on the Shadow Price of Household Time" (no date), "The Impact of Unionism on Relative Wages in the U.S." (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 Professor Lewis' Ph.D. thesis, "Studies in the Elasticity of the Demand for Steel" (University of Chicago, March 1947).
The Correspondence Series is quite a substantive collection of letters Professor Lewis wrote to fellow economists or received from them over the period 1958 - 1986. 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 prestigious award.
The Teaching Materials Series covers the period 1967-1986. In chronological order, it contains the lecture notes for classes taught both at the University of Chicago and at Duke. In addition, there are five files (ca. 1979) on University of Chicago dissertations which he supervised even after moving to Duke. In the words of Sherwin Rosen, one of his former students, Professor Lewis wielded his influence largely in the one-on-one teaching he did, serving on the committees of over 90 graduate students at Chicago, and supervising six Ph.D. dissertations at Duke. According to Rosen, his real forte was in this capacity as thesis advisor engaged in "one-on-one teaching in his office, discussing thesis problems and progress and training young economists how to do research. He had no peer in those endeavors. He was extraordinarily unselfish and generous to students in giving away his ideas, time, and criticism." (Rosen, 1994).
His teaching efforts in the classroom, moreover, did not go unnoticed; at the University of Chicago he was awarded the Quantrell Prize for excellence in undergraduate teaching, and at Duke he was given the United Methodist's Teacher-Scholar award, both in recognition of his outstanding teaching.
Finally, the Colleagues' Articles: Indexed Series contains working papers and any hand-written notes (e.g. Lewis' calculations) on these papers. There are also pieces of correspondence related to the papers interspersed throughout this series.
Rosen, Sherwin. H. Gregg Lewis Memorial Comments, 1994. Pamphlet reprinted by the Journal of Labor Economics, ed. Orley Ashenfelter.,
- Biographical / Historical:
Chronology Date Event 1914, May 9 Born Harold Gregg Lewis, in Homer, Mich. 1936 B.A. (Economics), University of Chicago. 1939-75 Member of the faculty, University of Chicago Department of Economics. At various times was also: a Research Associate at Cowles Commission, Director of Graduate Studies, and Director of Chicago-Latin American Program (Chile and Argentina projects) 1941, Autumn Economist for the President's Emergency Railroad Board. 1943-45 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 1945, Apr.-Sept. Army Air Force 1947 Ph.D. (Economics), University of Chicago. Dissertation: "Studies in the Elasticity of Demand for Steel." 1959-60 Ford Foundation Faculty Research Fellow. 1963 Publication of Unionism and Relative Wages in the United States (University of Chicago Press). 1967-68 Visiting Professor in Economics, Catholic University of Chile (in Santiago). 1971 Visiting Professor, University of Minnesota and Macalester University (St. Paul). 1972 Awarded the Quantrell Prize for excellence in undergraduate teaching, University of Chicago. 1974-75 Visiting Research Scholar, Princeton University. 1976-84 Professor, Duke University. 1976, Aug. Special Issue of the Journal of Political Economy: "Essays in Labor Economics: in Honor of H. Gregg Lewis," ed. Gary S. Becker. 1981 Honored as a Distinguished Fellow of the American Economics Association. 1983 Lead article, inaugural issue of the Journal of Labor Economics. 1983 Awarded the Duke University Scholar-Teacher Award, sponsored by the United Methodist Church. 1984 Retired from Duke University. 1986 Made a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. 1986 Publication of Union Relative Wage Effects: A Survey (University of Chicago Press). 1992, Jan. 25 Died at his home in Chapel Hill, NC.
- Acquisition Information:
- The papers of H. Gregg Lewis were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book Manuscript Library at Duke University in 1989. More papers were added following his death in 1992.
- Processing information:
Professor Lewis threw out 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 Special Collections Libary, H. Gregg Lewis Collection Control File).
Processed by Joanna Vinluan
Completed November 30, 1998
Encoded by Don Sechler
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African Americans -- Economic conditions
Economists -- United States -- Correspondence
Working class -- United States
University of Chicago. Dept. of Economics
Labor unions -- United States -- History
Wages -- United States -- History
Race discrimination -- Economic aspects
Duke University. Dept. of Economics
- Lewis, H. Gregg
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[Identification of item], H. Gregg Lewis Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.