Warren J. Samuels (1933-2011)


On this blog, we like to overstate quite a bit our irreverence towards the establishment and in particular our senior colleagues.

Several posts have been written in which we have challenged the prevaling views and methodologies in HET and criticized the way young scholars are sometimes treated with some condescension by more established peers. Yet there is no denying that we are also the products of this establishment that we sometimes take to task. One instance of this relation is that most of the contributors of this blog - if not all of them - have received the Warren J. and Sylvia J. Samuels Young Scholars Award, which allowed us to participate in the HES meeting without having to pay for it - at a time where most of us were graduate or post-graduate students with only meagre stipends. Therefore, it is with great sadness that we have learnt of the death of Warren J. Samuels on August 17.

Warren Samuels was one of the greatest historians of economics. With a few others, such as Bob Coats and Mark Blaug, he contrbuted to the institutionalization of the discipline. As Editor of the annually published Research in the History of Economic Thought and Methodology, he insisted on the use of letters, notes and addresses in HET by publishing an Archival Supplement. The creation of the Samuels Young Scholars program testified to his commitment to the regeneration of HET until the end of his life. I guess his legacy will live through this continuing program but of course, Samuels will mainly be remembered for his influential articles, books and edited volumes such as “The Physiocratic Theory of Economic Policy,” in the Quarterly Journal of Economics (1962), The Classical Theory of Economic Policy (1966), The Economy as a Process of Valuation (with Steven G. Medema and A. Allan Schmid, 1997), Economics, Governance and Law: Essays on Theory and Policy (2002), Essays on the History of Economics (with Willie Henderson, Kirk Johnson, and Marianne Johnson (2004). Our deepest sympathy goes to his family and closest friends. He will be greatly missed in our profession.

PS: Ross Emmett has written a more complete obituary on the SHOE list website.

Share your perspective