Economic history, quite simply, is the study of economics and economic phenomena from the past. The study of economic history is done using a combination of historical and statistical methods, as well as applying economic theory to historical situations and institutions.
Topics studied tend to include financial and business history, and social history, such as demographic and labour history. When studying economic history quantitatively, the basis on which it is interpreted is known as cliometrics.
It originally became an academic discipline in Britain, Germany and the United States of America, and publications that incorporated economic history actually go back to the nineteenth century. The words ‘economic history’ supposedly first appeared in a book title that was written by a German scholar named Von Inama-Sternegg, which was published in 1877.
However, the first-ever study of economic history as an academic field was at Harvard University in 1892 and was taught by a British scholar named William Ashley. The work of the early economic historians concentrated on the general economic development of specific sectors and processes, particularly agriculture, industrialisation and commerce.
The field also included some remarkable women, such as Eileen Power, a Brit who found herself at the centre of the Economic History Society and the London School of Economics, until she died in 1940. Katharine Coman, an American, was another, who published a history text called Industrial History of the United States in 1905.
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