How did ordinary colonial people accomplish the daily buying and selling, producing and exchanging, that sustained their households? How did colonial traders put a ship of goods together, protect goods moving into foreign Atlantic empires, and communicate effectively with strangers during the early modern era? What kinds of skills and resources were necessary for ordinary colonists who circulated in local market places, or prosperous merchants who visited distant ports? This conference will explore the practical connections and mutual obligations between individuals in the early modern economies of local places and across the boundaries of frontiers and empires. Whether a widow tavern keeper in Montreal, or a merchant in Veracruz, or a stone mason in Charleston, imperial subjects had to know how to make a sale, evaluate forms of money, and judge a neighbor’s reliability or the value of goods. Many also had to write business letters, dun their debtors in newspapers, acquire marine insurance, charter ships, or visit bills of exchange brokers and bankers, all of which required particular expertise and particular paper forms. Some also engaged in legal disputes that required more expertise and paper forms. This conference will explore these and other connective sinews of skill and knowledge that joined colonists of all classes and cultures in their economic experiences across European empires.
The Library Company of Philadelphia’s Program in Early American Economy and Society invites proposals for papers. Please send a brief description of the research you wish to present and a CV no later than November 1, 2012 to Cathy Matson, PEAES Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org. The program committee will reply by the first week of December.
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