Carl Menger papers, 1857-1985
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- Collection is open for research. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection. All or portions of this collection may be housed off-site in Duke...
- Menger, Carl, 1840-1921
- Carl Menger was an economic theorist and professor. Chiefly notebooks, notes, teaching materials, correspondence, biographical and personal material, and printed material (7500 items, 10 lin. ft; dated 1857-1985), relating to Menger's academic career, 1867-1920. The bulk of the collection consists of Menger's notes and revisions on economic and theoretical topics, and on his first major work, Grundsätze der Volkswirthschaftslehre.. Includes extensive material about money, the gold standard, and capital theory. Other topics include economic principles, jurisprudence, credit, property, philosophy, the nature of science, methodology, interest, research on political economy, and the classification of knowledge. Family papers relate to Anton and Max Menger. Letters to Menger are primarily from colleagues of the Austrian school of economists, especially Eugen von Bohm-Bawerk, Johannes Conrad, Eugen von Philippovich, Emil Sax, and Friedrich Wieser, concerning professional matters. Other correspondents include Friedrich A. von Hayek, Ludwig von Mises, Oskar Morganstern, Richard Schuller, Joseph Alois Schumpeter, and Knut Wicksell. The addition (02-220) (150 items, 0.40 linear ft.; dated 1855-1921 and n.d.) comprises letters, notes, postcards, and calling cards from Menger's brothers Anton and Max Menger as well as from distinguished Austrian, German, and other writers, artists, philosophers, jurists, historians, and politicians. Correspondents include Arthur Schnitzler, Henryk Sienkiewicz, Theodor Gomperz, Friedrich Jodl, Karl Kraus, and Otto Weininger. Materials in this accession are unprocessed.
- 10 Linear Feet
- Collection ID:
- Scope and Content:
The Carl Menger Papers span the years 1857 to 1985. Although the collection includes material from Menger's early professional life as well as some items from his brothers, Anton and Max, and his son, Karl, it is primarily composed of manuscripts and correspondence, 1867-1920, relating to his mature academic career. The contents are extremely dense and complex; they are also essential to an understanding of the mind of Carl Menger. Not only do the papers reflect Menger's mind, but they also document his own methods of work. He was a copious note-taker and read voraciously. He kept bound notebooks with reflections and excerpts from his current reading, especially in the early years when he was constructing the Grundsätze. Later he made notes and revisions on loose sheets, having some of them copied into a clear hand, and on those sheets, too, he made revisions. Menger also wrote directly in the printed text. For example, his papers include two copies of the Grundsätze (a third similar copy is in the Hitotsubashi University Library with the rest of Menger's library) with blank pages interleaved with pages of text. In each of these successively Menger made extensive notes and changes. Although it is frequently impossible to date his manuscripts precisely, one can get a sense of the development of his thought from this sort of progression with the help in some cases of holographic evidence.
The collection has been organized into series which reflect both Menger's style of work and his major areas of research. The series include: research notebooks; manuscripts and notes on economic principles, money, and methodology; teaching materials; correspondence; biographical and personal materials; related family materials; miscellany; and printed matter.
Menger's work on political economy and on the nature of his subject and its appropriate research method typify changes in the intellectual frontier in fin-de-siecle Vienna, and Europe as a whole. Some of Menger's most explicit thoughts on these subjects are evident in his lecture notes. Although he taught for over thirty years, the collection contains only a small amount of material from this aspect of his career. What one discerns from the lecture notes, however, is a personal sense of the teacher, and his high degree of moral commitment to his work. Menger clearly thought it important to articulate his thoughts on the distinction between political economy and jurisprudence--since that was the faculty in which he taught--and the method and aims of the discipline.
The bulk of the collection consists of Menger's notes and revisions on economic and theoretical topics. The series on general economic principles contains material relating to his first major work, the Grundsätze der Volkswirthschaftslehre, which he published in 1871. Despite the lack of a full-length coherent manuscript for this book, his background work can be discerned from a set of extensive notebooks he kept. These contain extracts of works Menger read, as well as his reactions and reflections. The range of works shows familiarity with classical authors, particularly Aristotle and Plato, through to his own contemporaries. He showed special interest in writers on law, political economy, and theories of knowledge, such as Grotius, Malthus, J. S. Mill, Ricardo, J. B. Say, Roscher, Descartes, Francis Bacon, Locke, Kant, Fichte, Hegel, and Savigny. Many of the notebooks date from the late 1860s and thus, in the absence of more explicit information from Menger about his development, serve the function of intellectual diaries. Early versions of the actual manuscript of the Grundsätze exist in fragmentary form, mostly heavily revised. A table of contents, dated 1870, provides a useful comparison for later revisions and schemas.
The collection contains extensive materials on the subjects of money, the gold standard, and capital theory. The work on money, which is some of the best ordered in the collection, Menger produced as an article for the second edition of the Handwrterbuch der Staatswissenschaften in 1990, with substantial revisions for the third edition in 1909. Yet even after the latter edition, Menger continued to make changes and notations. His work on monetary reform grew out of an appointment to an Austrian state commission on currency and the use of a single or double bullion standard. Newsclippings of the reports have been maintained in the printed matter series.
Although not direct concerns in the Grundsätze, capital and interest received much attention from Menger, particularly in his refutation of his colleague Eugen Bohm-Bawerk's work of 1885, Geschichte und Kritik der Kapitalzinstheorien. Holographic evidence suggests that after dealing with this subject extensively in the late 1880s, Menger did not return to it again until the second decade of the twentieth century, when he was no longer teaching. At that point he resumed his considerations of capital and interest but looked additionally at credit and property.
The series in the collection which seems most opaque and less easily classified by subject deals with Menger's speculations and theories about the goals and methods of research, specifically for political economy, and the classification of knowledge. The appearance of the Untersuchungen über die Methode der Socialwissenschaften, und der Politischen Oekonomie insbesondere in 1883 provoked sharp criticism from Gustav Schmoller, representing the younger German Historical School. Their dispute came to be known as the Methodenstreit. In the following year, Menger replied to Schmoller with his Irrtimer des Historismus in der Deutschen Nationalokonomie. After this, Menger published no further major works, although he continued to produce articles and book reviews for many years. His notes and manuscripts indicate that his research came to an end only with his death.
Menger's professional contacts with respected colleagues such as Emil Sax, Eugen Philippovich, and Bohm-Bawerk demonstrate that although he refused to publish further, he did not work in isolation. The incoming correspondence shows a lively exchange of information about university teaching and politics, news of the profession, and current research. Letters also refer frequently to works of others in the profession. Few drafts of Menger's own letters exist in the collection. A large proportion of these seem to be addressed to Bohm-Bawerk.
- Biographical / Historical:
Chronology Date Event 1840, February 23 Born, Neu Sandec, Galicia (then in the Austrian part of Poland) 1863-1871 Editorial and reporting posts on the Lemberger Zeitung, then on the Wiener Zeitung 1867 Doctorate in jurisprudence, University of Cracow 1871 Publication of Grundsätze der Volkswirthschaftslehre 1872-76 Habilitation and appointment as professor extraordinarius, University of Vienna 1876-78 Tutor and traveling companion to Archduke Rudolf, Austrian crown prince 1879 Full professorship, University of Vienna 1883 Publication of Untersuchungen über die Methode der Socialwissenschaften, und der Politischen Oekonomie insbesondere, which precipitated the Methodenstreit with the younger German Historical School 1884 Publication of Irrtimer des Historismus in der Deutschen Nationalkonomie, Menger's reply to criticism by Gustav Schmoller 1892 Joined the Austrian state commission on currency reform and the evaluation of a bullion standard 1903 Retired prematurely from his active professorship to devote himself entirely to research 1921 Died in Vienna 1923 Publication of a second edition of the Grundsätze edited by Menger's son Karl
Carl Menger was born in 1840 in Neu Sandec, Galicia, of well-to-do titled parents. His life followed a path typical for someone in a family of similar social and intellectual standing. His work as journalist, tutor to the crown prince, and professor marked his role as part of a flowering European intellectual elite.
After attending Gymnasium, he matriculated at the universities of Vienna and Prague, leaving school in 1863 for a position on the staff of the Lemberger Zeitung. He continued to hold a number of other reporting and editorial posts over the course of the next dozen years, ending with the Wiener Zeitung. The list of Menger's contributions to the press in later years attests to the ties he retained in this area.
In the meantime, Menger received his doctorate in jurisprudence from the University of Cracow and began his work on political economy. By 1871 he had begun the process of publication and simultaneously applied for full instatement on the law faculty at the University of Vienna. In his diary, Menger noted it was not without some difficulty that he achieved this goal in July of 1872. For the next several years he taught finance and political economy to an increasing number of students, both in seminars and lectures, while also contributing to the Wiener Zeitung.
In the fall of 1876, Menger was approached with a request to become tutor in political economy and statistics to the Crown Prince of Austria. The ensuing association lasted until the death of the prince in 1889 and brought the talented young economist in contact with politically and socially influential people throughout Europe and England. He made two tours with Crown Prince Rudolf, one throughout Europe, and a second to the British Isles. Menger's contact with the prince lessened after their travels and after the prince had successfully completed his examinations, but from Menger's diary entries it is clear he continued to benefit from this royal association, particularly in the area of university appointments.
With the exception of the short hiatus of a few semesters with the crown prince, Menger taught until 1903, when he retired early in order to devote himself entirely to research. He spent the majority of his professional academic career in Vienna, a city acknowledged as one of the premier cultural centers on the continent. His writings, like his background, are a window upon the mind and concerns of the late-nineteenth-century intellectual. Far from having a focused and narrow concern with a particular aspect of economics, Menger sought to define the discipline and science of (non-mathematical) economics and to place it within the broader context of intellectual inquiry. Although the last several decades of Menger's life may be quickly described as involved in teaching and research, comprehending the quality and quantity of his life's work presents a great challenge to contemporary researchers.
- Acquisition Information:
- The papers of Carl Menger (1840-1921), economic theorist and professor, were donated to Duke University in 1987 by his granddaughter, Eve L. Menger.
- Processing information:
Encoded by Alvin Pollock
The original order of this collection is completely lost. Karl Menger had possession of the papers immediately after his father's death in 1921. He used much of the material now in the series on economic principles and some of the material from the series on money for the publication of a second edition of his father's best-known work, the Grundsätze der Volkswirthschaftslehre. A number of years later Friedrich v. Hayek ordered a number of the folders containing notes and manuscripts. His numbers are visible on the outside upper left corner of a number of the hard-cover folders. From time to time he also made notes about the content of a particular folder, but none of these notes is extensive. In the 1970s, Albert Zlabinger was permitted access to some of the papers, primarily the material on money. His careful work and notations allow for the reconstruction of the development of Menger's article on money for the Handw"rterbuch der Staatswissenschaften, and its subsequent revisions.
Carl Menger did not date all, or even most, of his work, and because he made frequent emendations to his own notes and text, dating is hazardous at best. For this reason, all loose manuscript material has been arranged topically. Almost all material belonging to a particular folder, however, has been kept together. Original folders have been retained.
The only materials which lent themselves to something approximating original order are the bound notebooks which Menger himself numbered. Correspondence has been arranged chronologically.
The majority of the paper in this collection has an extremely high acid content, although it is not overly brittle. Many sheets are crumpled badly, especially at the edges, but little text has been lost. All newspaper clippings have been photocopied on acid-free paper.
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- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Click on terms below to find related finding aids on this site. For other related materials in the Duke University Libraries, search for these terms in the Catalog.
Austrian school of economics
Economics -- Study and teaching -- Austria
Economists -- Austria
Wicksell, Knut, 1851-1926
Wieser, Friedrich, Freiherr von, 1851-1926
Menger, Anton, 1841-1906
Hayek, Friedrich A. von (Friedrich August), 1899-
Conrad, Johannes, 1839-1915
Bohm-Bawerk, Eugen von, 1851-1914
Philippovich, Eugen von, 1858-1917
Morgenstern, Oskar, 1902-1977
Menger, Max (Maximilian), 1838-1911
Menger, Carl, 1840-1921
Von Mises, Ludwig, 1881-1973
Schumpeter, Joseph Alois, 1883-1950
Schuller, Richard, 1870-
Sax, Emil, 1845-1927
Using These Materials
Collection is open for research.
Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.
All or portions of this collection may be housed off-site in Duke University's Library Service Center. The library may require up to 48 hours to retrieve these materials for research use.
Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library to use this collection.
- USE & PERMISSIONS:
The copyright interests in the papers of Carl Menger are reserved to his heirs under the provisions of U.S. copyright law (Title 17, U.S.C.).
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- PREFERRED CITATION:
[Identification of item], Carl Menger Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.