Author Archives: Andrea Twiss-Brooks

Celebrate GIS Day at the Library

Join us in celebrating GIS Day on Wednesday, November 14:

GIS Day at the Library
2-4 p.m.
Wednesday, November 14, 2018
All events held in Regenstein Library

Browse maps and atlases from Special Collections
Special Collections Research Center classroom

Discover CARTO and ArcGIS tools
RCC Walk-in Lab, Room 216

Bring your laptop and participate in a Map-a-thon using OpenStreetMap
Map Collection, Room 370

All UChicago faculty, students and staff are welcome. Stay for a short time or for the whole event.  No previous GIS experience is needed. Light snacks will be provided.

Meet new Social Sciences Data Librarian and Sociology Librarian Elizabeth Foster

Elizabeth Foster joined the Library as the Social Sciences Data Librarian and Sociology Librarian.  Elizabeth comes to Chicago from Georgetown University Library where she was the Public Policy and Social Sciences Librarian, providing reference, research and outreach services, workshops and orientations, as well as developing collections in several subject areas.  Elizabeth has a Masters of Information Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with a minor in Sociology from Kenyon College in Gambier, OH.

Elizabeth Foster

Elizabeth Foster (Photo by John Zich)

Barbara Kern interviewed Elizabeth to find out how she plans to work with faculty and students.

Elizabeth can be reached at ehfoster@uchicago.edu, 773-702-8699, and Regenstein Library Room 261.

Q: How did you become interested in social sciences data?

A: I’ve always been someone who wants to know the details. Data allows you to see information at a really granular level. Throughout my career, I’ve worked with a lot of library users who want to research contemporary social problems. Data lets them take a look behind the scenes and develop their own conclusions.

Q: What are the greatest opportunities and challenges in working with research data?

A: Research data is available in a variety of formats—print, online, and disks—and none of it is consolidated in one place; it is easy to miss something valuable if you don’t know where to look. There’s an opportunity to make data discovery more seamless. In addition, the process of organizing, preserving, and sharing data and research workflows can be complicated. There are a lot of great tools that can help researchers open up their data, methods, and findings to new audiences.

Q:  What are some of the highlights of your work with the sociology faculty and students at Georgetown University?

A: I worked closely with two sociology faculty members to provide instruction to their students. In their sophomore year, they would come to the library and get an introduction to social sciences literature. In their senior year, they would return to learn more about research skills and subsequently apply them to their thesis projects. It was a great chance to work with students throughout multiple courses and help them produce original research.

Q: How will you work with social sciences faculty and students at University of Chicago in your new role?

A: I will help social sciences faculty and students discover, evaluate, and use datasets and other information resources. I will also help researchers manage and share their original data using various tools and technologies, such as the DMPTool and Knowledge@UChicago. I plan to offer consultations and workshops on data topics and social sciences resources.

Q: What was a particularly interesting project you have worked on with social sciences data?

A: I helped a student find information in Factiva to update a World Bank dataset on food price riots. We followed the authors’ methodology and found sources so she could tag them with prescribed codes and add them to the dataset.

Q: What is your favorite thing about the city of Chicago so far?

A: I love the lakefront. I grew up near Lake Erie and it is great to have access to a lakefront again. I also enjoy the museums, the food scene, and the architecture.

Expanding services for faculty in a changing environment

Brenda L. Johnson

Brenda L. Johnson, Library Director and University Librarian (Photo by John Zich)

Today’s scholarly environment presents an increasing array of challenges and opportunities for faculty and graduate students. New funding agency requirements call on researchers to present advance plans for openly sharing and preserving their data.  Researchers are seeking ways to obtain data in new formats, to visualize information in new ways, and to rescue and share data for new purposes.  Across disciplines, researchers are constantly challenged to find and adopt new tools and techniques. The Library is meeting this challenge by launching new initiatives, developing cutting-edge skills among our librarians, and bringing on new staff members who can assist researchers in this changing scholarly environment.

Stacie Williams

Stacie Williams, Center for Digital Scholarship Director

The Library’s new Center for Digital Scholarship (CDS) will be an umbrella for many of these services, facilitating the analysis of complex data, the visualization of theoretical relationships, the preservation of core research, and the sharing of research results. Stacie Williams, who joined the Library in August as the inaugural CDS Director, brings experience working with researchers in her previous position managing the Freedman Center for Digital Scholarship at Case Western Reserve University. Williams is working with subject librarians and faculty to identify priorities for establishing new spaces, technical infrastructure, and services that meet research and teaching needs.  Following are some of the key areas in which initiatives are already underway.

Data preservation and sharing

Nora Mattern

Nora Mattern, Scholarly Communications Librarian

The Library is expanding Knowledge@UChicago, the University’s digital institutional research repository, to better support the needs of data preservation. Led by new Scholarly Communications Librarian Nora Mattern, the Library is migrating Knowledge@UChicago to a new platform that was initially developed at CERN to support high energy physics. The new Knowledge@UChicago will launch in January and will provide funder-compliant solutions for researchers to share and preserve their code, data, and research results.  Mattern also provides consultations on good data management practices, writing data management plans, and copyright.

The Library is also partnering with the Energy Policy Institute at Chicago (EPIC) to host a Council on Library and Information Resources Postdoctoral Fellow in Energy Economics Data Curation, Ana Trisovic. Trisovic is focusing on the particular challenges EPIC faculty face in collecting and preserving energy data, which is often available only from private industry or difficult-to-use government websites. She will be building a clearinghouse for EPIC’s data to facilitate discovery and reuse, as well as developing solutions for preserving and sharing the code that researchers use to analyze their data. Trisovic will use the skills she gained earning a PhD in Computer Science and her experience developing similar preservation solutions at CERN, applying them to the field of energy economics.

Data acquisition and use

Kristin Martin

Kristin Martin, Director of Technical Services

The challenge of acquiring data for research is shared by many disciplines. For example, the Library subscribes to thousands of electronic books and journals, but researchers interested in data mining these texts cannot easily do so using the vendor’s PDFs, which are intended for individual reading. Kristin Martin, the Library’s Director of Technical Services, excels at working with publishers to provide alternative access that is optimized for data mining.  The Library’s subject specialists can work with faculty across the disciplines and with Martin to seek such alternative access.

Elizabeth Foster

Elizabeth Foster, Social Sciences Data Librarian

Elizabeth Foster, the Library’s new Social Sciences Data Librarian, can take this one step further, not only helping researchers find and acquire relevant data, but also helping them transform that data, for example, by formatting it to match the requirements of a particular tool.  Foster will offer workshops and will be developing data analysis consultation services, with a focus on using R and Stata.

Geospatial analysis

Cecilia Smith

Cecilia Smith, GIS and Maps Librarian

Faculty in many disciplines are exploring the ways spatial and temporal analysis and visualization can be used to gain new insights into their data. Cecilia Smith, the Library’s new GIS and Maps Librarian, can consult on the use of GIS information and geospatial tools to analyze and visualize trends in data from mapping the shifts in the border of the Roman Empire over time, to plotting the incidence of traffic accidents in relation to red light cameras, to mapping the impact of environmental factors on health outcomes, and more.  Read “Opening a GIS Hub at Crerar Library” for more information.

At-risk data and data rescue

Sarah G. Wenzel

Sarah G. Wenzel, Bibliographer for the Literatures of Europe and the Americas

Researchers interested in documenting historical trends are often stymied when early data are in analog formats not conducive to data analysis.  Heritage data–such as weather data and astronomical observations–are often the only evidence remaining of ephemeral or disappearing phenomena.  The Library is currently partnering with the Humanities Division to ensure that the UChicago Digital Media Archive’s linguistic and ethnomusicology recordings made by former faculty are converted from fragile magnetic tape to a digital form that can be used by researchers today. We are also working with the Ivy Plus Libraries on a web archiving project. Sarah G. Wenzel, Bibliographer for the Literatures of Europe and the Americas, co-developed a proposal with a colleague at Columbia University to create a digital archive of comics and artists’ websites.  Currently, more than 150 websites are being actively archived by this project and can be found at archive-it.org/collections/10181.

The expert and talented staff members of the Library are committed to expanding services that meet faculty needs in this changing environment. We look forward to working with you and encourage you to visit our Center for Digital Scholarship web page and to contact your subject specialist, Stacie Williams, or Elisabeth Long, Associate University Librarian for Information Technology and Digital Scholarship, to discuss your research needs.

Scientific reproducibility, data management, and inspiration

“Science moves forward by corroboration–when researchers verify others’ results,” the journal Nature states in its July special edition on Challenges in Irreproducible Research.  “There is a growing alarm about results that cannot be reproduced. . . . Journals, scientists, institutions and funders all have a part in tackling reproducibility.”

Stefano Allesina discusses a data management plan with Elisabeth Long, who points sto the plan on screen.

Librarian Elisabeth Long (left) discusses a data management plan with Professor Stefano Allesina. (Photo by Joel Wintermantle)

Science faculty across the disciplines are increasingly taking up the challenge to publish their research in ways that are more easily reproduced, and librarians are collaborating with these researchers to ensure that rigorously collected data, metadata, and algorithms are preserved and made accessible to the research community.

“Many of these efforts revolve around teaching, planning, and practicing excellent data management throughout the research life cycle, from grant writing to publication,” said Elisabeth Long, Associate University Librarian for Information Technology and Digital Scholarship.  “The University of Chicago Library is offering a growing set of data management research and teaching services that help UChicago scientists win grants and produce and publish reproducible results that will shape the future of their fields.”

Teaching good data management from the beginning

The UChicago Biological Sciences Division recently played a leading part in improving graduate education in its discipline by developing a National Science Foundation-funded course called Responsible, Rigorous, and Reproducible Conduct of Research: R3CR.  All UChicago first-year BSD graduate students are required to take the course, learning how to use current methods in computational biology in an ethical and reproducible way.  Elisabeth Long has partnered with the course’s creators, Professors Victoria Prince, Stefano Allesina, and Stephanie Palmer, to provide a class session that introduces students to the principles of data management in the lab setting.

“Biology produces a lot of data, and we have seen the kind of mistakes that people can make that are terrifying,” Professor Allesina said. “Elisabeth talked a lot about how you make sure that you’re keeping your data safe throughout your thesis research: how you should name your files, where you should save your files, how you make sure they are saved for posterity, and where there are institutional repositories or online repositories where you can publish your data.”

The Library is partnering with researchers across campus to develop practices and tools that can facilitate the kind of recordkeeping and data curation that is currently demanded of scientists.  Librarians are offering workshops and training sessions that prepare University of Chicago students to graduate with exceptional data management and preservation skills.

Electronic lab notebooks and data management plans

This Autumn Quarter, the Library’s new Center for Digital Scholarship begins offering drop-in consultation hours and customized one-on-one sessions to work with faculty on their data management plans, choosing between the University’s Knowledge@UChicago research repository and disciplinary archives for preserving and sharing research outputs.

The Center will also offer advice on selecting and using research management tools such as electronic lab notebooks and the Open Science Framework.  Research management tools provide platforms where faculty can centralize all their research activities, enabling easy file management, version control, protocol sharing, analysis activities, email, and other interactions between members of a lab. “One challenge confronting researchers is choosing from among the many existing systems,” Long said. “The Center for Digital Scholarship’s consultation services can pair librarians with individual faculty members, or bring sessions to your labs to explore the best solution for your particular research scenario.”

When the data don’t stand alone

Complex research workflows that present particular challenges for reproducibility often occur in fields where data are processed multiple times before final analysis. “In such cases, preserving the data alone is insufficient to support reproducibility,” Long explained. “The computational code for processing the data must also be preserved along with its relation to the data at various stages of processing.”

Marco Govoni, a researcher at the Institute of Molecular Engineering and Argonne National Laboratory, has been developing a tool for mapping and documenting these relationships.  Qresp: Curation and Exploration of Reproducible Scientific Papers (at qresp.org) guides the researchers through the process of documenting the relationship between the datasets, scripts, tools, and notebooks that were used in the creation of a scientific paper. Librarians are working with Govoni to explore ways in which the Library could support his work and potentially integrate it with the Library’s new institutional repository platform.

Data and inspiration

In consulting with librarians, faculty sometimes discover unexpected sources of data, inspiring new research projects.  When Long was talking to the R3CR class about data management and how they will submit their dissertations to ProQuest, a national dissertation repository, Professor Allesina began to consider the value its metadata could provide for the study of careers in science.  “There’s a lot of interest in trying to see if we can improve the situation in the sciences by increasing representations, for example, of women or minorities,” Allesina explained, “but one thing that we lack is some sort of longitudinal analysis, because once PhD students are out the door, it’s very difficult to find them again.”

Librarian Nora Mattern, Professor Stefano Allesina, and a sketch of a computational pipeline. (Photo by Joel Wintermantle)

At Allesina’s request, Long put him in touch with the Library’s Director of Technical Services, Kristin Martin, who worked with ProQuest to obtain the name, institution, and year of graduation for dissertation authors from the U.S. and Canada from 1993 to 2015.  He is now planning to combine that metadata with publication data from Scopus to track the length and locations of scientists’ careers in academia.

Such a study raises specific reproducibility challenges.  In working on a grant proposal to the National Science Foundation to support this research, Allesina turned to Nora Mattern, Scholarly Communications Librarian, and Debra Werner, Director of Library Research in Medical Education, for advice on how to integrate proprietary data owned by ProQuest and Scopus into the data management plan.  “How much can you share with other scientists?” Allesina asked.  “Can you share some summary statistics of the data?  Can you share de-identified data? If you imagine that someone wants to repeat my analysis of PhD students, will they have sufficient data?” Mattern and Werner helped him to structure the data management plan and to consider the legal implications.

When Allesina came to the United States from Italy, he was surprised at the role he found librarians taking in the digital age.  “Here librarians are thinking forward,” he said.  “Nowadays we have this mass of information. How do we navigate that? How do we organize it? How do we make it searchable? I am always amazed that people can be so helpful. I was dreaming of this data about PhDs, and I talked to Elisabeth, and she said ‘let me look into that.’ After a few weeks, I got gigabytes of data.”

His advice to colleagues: “Run it by a librarian before giving up.”

To consult with a librarian on data management and scientific reproducibility, talk to your Library subject specialist or email data-help@lib.uchicago.edu.

 

Opening a GIS Hub at Crerar Library

Location is important. Tracking the movement of contagious disease helps contain its spread. Demographic geography influences access to financial and retail services. Virtualized medieval cities provide opportunities to explore the contexts of historical events. Each of these phenomena can be studied with GIS.

GIS and Maps Librarian and students with map of Chicago on monitor

GIS and Maps Librarian Cecilia Smith (center) discusses mapping tools and resources with (from left) students Paul Gilbert, II, College ’20, and Emil Sohlberg, College ’20. (Photo by Joel Wintermantle)

Geographic information systems, or GIS, is used to analyze locational information across disciplines such as public health, environmental science, sociology, economics, policy, history, and many more. Faculty and students are increasingly integrating GIS into their research, and opportunities to learn the technology are growing at the University of Chicago.

Thanks to a generous gift from the Kathleen and Howard Zar Science Library Fund and support from the Library Council, the University of Chicago Library is developing a GIS Hub at the John Crerar Library to enable geospatial research and learning activities on campus. The Hub will be located in Crerar’s Kathleen A. Zar Room, named in honor of the late director of the science libraries. Brenda Johnson, Library Director and University Librarian, sees the new Hub as critical to supporting research on campus. “The GIS Hub at the Library will provide faculty, students and staff from every discipline at UChicago with access to important technology and resources and, very importantly, the ability to consult with a GIS Librarian with expert knowledge,” she said.

Eight workstations in the Hub will offer GIS software, including QGIS, GeoDa, and ArcGIS. Large, high-resolution monitors will allow detailed visualization work. The GIS Hub will facilitate individual and collaborative work. Instructional technology will also provide a venue for geospatial workshops and demonstrations.

As the new GIS and Maps Librarian, I will support faculty and students through consultations on gathering and exploring geospatial data, spatial literacy, and visualizing geographic information.  I will also offer workshops on working with GIS data and getting started with the software. At Chicago, I will build on my recent experience as a Clinical Assistant Professor and the Geospatial Librarian at Texas A&M University Libraries, where I collaborated on research projects with faculty from geography, sociology, anthropology, history, urban planning, and ecosystem science. The Early Modern Shipwreck project at modernshipwrecks.com is a good example of one of my collaborations with faculty where I provided geospatial expertise.

The GIS Hub opens to the campus community in Fall 2018, located with the new Media Arts, Data, and Design Center on the first floor of the newly renovated Crerar Library. The Media Arts, Data and Design Center will open in early Winter Quarter.  This co-location is an exciting opportunity for faculty and students to access technological and maker resources for interdisciplinary research and learning.

For questions regarding GIS resources at the Library, please contact me at ceciliasmith@uchicago.edu.

Librarians collaborate with faculty to help students gain vital research skills

In an era of social media, disinformation, and fake news, helping students learn how to evaluate information is more important than ever. While the University’s Core Curriculum teaches undergraduates to critically examine texts, survey responses indicate that students also need help learning to identify, assess, and use sources beyond the syllabus. Librarians are available to work with faculty to design tailored assignments and resources that teach research skills that meet course-specific objectives.

Survey results indicate the value of Library instruction

Librarian Rebecca Starkey with 3 students working on laptops.

Rebecca Starkey, Librarian for College Instruction and Outreach (standing), works with students to enhance their research skills. (Photo by Jason Smith)

In 2017, the Library conducted a survey of undergraduates in order to learn more about their experiences at UChicago. Results demonstrated that students expect to have opportunities to conduct original research while at the University and believe that the research skills developed at UChicago will be essential for their future careers. Once here, however, respondents were uncertain who on campus had responsibility for helping them develop the skills needed to successfully find and use information.

Fortunately, survey responses clearly indicated that Library instruction positively affects students’ perceptions of their research skills. While only 38% of survey respondents reported having attended a library program or orientation, those who received this instruction consistently gave higher ratings to their abilities to evaluate academic sources, make ethical use of information, and form evidence-based conclusions than did those who had not received such training. Respondents who had participated in Library programs were also less likely to start their research with general search engines and nearly twice as likely to begin at the Library’s website.

Librarians create course-specific resources for faculty

University of Chicago librarians have experience collaborating with faculty and instructors to design programs, assignments, or course-specific resources that help students meet learning objectives while improving their research skills. Below are some examples of ways the Library can help:

  • Humanities students are asked to locate a review article about an art exhibition, theater performance, or film. A librarian teaches students how to locate review articles, highlighting the differences between academic sources with those in newspapers and magazines. The class also learns how to critically evaluate arts blogs and websites.
  • For a public policy class studying immigrant communities in Chicago, a librarian teaches students how to find U.S. Census data for neighborhoods.
  • For a psychology course focusing on adolescent mental health, librarians create an online guide to help students locate studies on the impact of anti-bullying programs on teenage suicide.

If you are interested in exploring options for your course, contact Rebecca Starkey, Librarian for College Instruction & Outreach at rstarkey@uchicago.edu.

Law resources for University faculty

The D’Angelo Law Library subscribes to dozens of legal databases with historical and current law and scholarly commentary to support the University of Chicago community. Legal research tools thought of as primarily for the Law School are useful for a variety of scholarship and teaching in other disciplines.

ProQuest’s Legislative Insight, Regulatory Insight and Supreme Court Insight offer efficient and comprehensive ways of exploring legal sources.  Legislative Insight organizes the legislative history of each enacted federal law.  You can search by the popular name of the statute (e.g., Americans with Disabilities Act), by citation or keyword.  Results include committee hearings and reports, congressional debates and votes, and executive signing statements.  Regulatory Insight  connects researchers with federal regulations created pursuant to congressional authority.  Supreme Court Insight, which includes opinions, dockets, oral arguments, and briefs from cases from 1975 to 2017, also facilitates understanding the judicial process.

History of Supreme Court Nominations - Volume 23 on Elena Kagan

From Hein Online’s History of Supreme Court Nominations – Volume 23 on Elena Kagan

Another core legal resource, HeinOnline, is a treasure trove, from complete back files of academic law journals to historical collections of state and territorial laws to the Pentagon Papers.  Included among the collections are Gun Regulation and Legislation in America and Slavery in America and the World: History, Culture & Law.  HeinOnline has an impressive range: the English Reports, Full Reprint begins with 1220 while the History of Supreme Court Nominations concludes with Justice Elena Kagan.

Searching for “law” in the Library’s database finder tool produces 284 hits, from the American Civil Liberties Union Papers, 1912-1995 to WorldTradeLaw.net.  Explore!

For questions about using legal resources, Ask a Law Librarian.

Archives of two giants of economics

Gifts of the papers of George Stigler and Harry G. Johnson will expand our understanding of economics at Chicago

George Stigler in front of Rosenwald Hall and a headshot of Harry Johnson

George Stigler (left) and Harry G. Johnson (right). Special Collections Research Center, The University of Chicago Library.

The University of Chicago is world renowned for the “Chicago School of Economics” and the 30 Nobel laureates in economic sciences who have been UChicago faculty members, students, or researchers. Yet, among historians of economics, definitions of the “Chicago School” continue to be debated.  Three recent gifts to the University of Chicago Library—the papers of Nobel laureate George Stigler, PhD’38, the papers of international trade expert Harry G. Johnson, and funding to organize the Johnson papers and create an online finding aid—will expand scholars’ understanding of the many ways Chicago has shaped the field of economics.

The University of Chicago Library is home to collections of more than 30 economists and 21 Nobel laureates, including seven Nobel Prize-winning economists:  Gary Becker, Ronald Coase, Robert Fogel, Milton Friedman, Merton Miller, Theodore Schultz, and George Stigler.   “These three generous new gifts will enable scholars to explore the history of economics in new ways,” said Brenda Johnson, Library Director and University Librarian.  “They strengthen our University Archives and demonstrate the Library’s ongoing commitment to being a vital center of University of Chicago history and the home of Nobel Prize winners’ research.”

Nobel laureate George Stigler’s papers

Draft of Nobel Prize speech, "The Process and Progress of Economics" with edits

Draft of Nobel Prize speech, with black handwritten edits by George Stigler and red printing by Stephen Stigler, November 29, 1982. Special Collections Research Center, The University of Chicago Library.

Frequently thought of as one of the leaders of the “Chicago School,” George Stigler came to the University of Chicago as a graduate student in 1933, received his PhD in 1938 and returned to Chicago as a professor from 1958 until his death in 1991.  He was awarded the 1982 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences “for his seminal studies of industrial structures, functioning of markets and causes and effects of public regulation” and was hailed by the Journal of Law and Economics as “a towering figure in the history of law and economics” and the first to win a Nobel Prize for work in the field.

Stigler is widely known for developing the “Economic Theory of Regulation,” which argues that political and economic interest groups use the coercive and regulatory powers of government to shape laws and regulations that benefit them.  He also shaped the education of a generation of undergraduates as the author of The Theory of Price, a textbook on free market economics that places its subject in historical context.  He initiated the study of the economics of information as a field, arguing that knowledge is costly to acquire and that consumers and businesses therefore must make decisions about how much information to acquire, as they do with goods and services.

Handwritten letter from Milton Friedman to George Stigler

Letter from Milton Friedman to George Stigler, August 23, 1946. Special Collections Research Center, The University of Chicago Library.

George Stigler’s son Stephen M. Stigler also became a faculty member at University of Chicago.  Currently the Ernest DeWitt Burton Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of Statistics and the College and member of the Committee on Conceptual and Historical Studies of Science, Stephen donated his father’s papers to the University of Chicago Library, where they are available for research in the Special Collections Research Center.  A long-time supporter of the Library, chair of the faculty Board of the Library from 1986 to 1989, and chair of the University of Chicago Library Society from 2011 to 2014, Stephen said the papers clearly belonged here: “I never had a thought that they’d go anywhere else because the University of Chicago was such an important part of my father’s life.”

The papers include 70 linear feet of research and teaching materials, correspondence with economists such as Milton Friedman, photographs, and ephemera. Stephen Stigler anticipates that scholars may be particularly interested in some of the short, unpublished pieces that explore economic issues and, in some cases, politics.  “He was very interested in politics—not politics as something to push forward, but he thought when people voted a certain way or acted a certain way politically, they were furthering their own interests, and that’s not always obvious from what they did,” Stephen explained.  “People sometimes do what could at first glance look foolish, and you wonder why they did it, but if you study it enough, you can find that there is a rational story you can tell to explain what they’re doing.  You learn a lot about human behavior in the process.”

International trade expert Harry G. Johnson’s papers

Harry Johnson with others seated around a table with plates and cups

Harry G. Johnson (second from left). Special Collections Research Center, The University of Chicago Library.

A contemporary of George Stigler’s, Harry G. Johnson came to the University of Chicago in 1959, holding the Charles F. Grey Distinguished Service Professorship in the economics department from 1969 until his death in 1977. He was extraordinarily prolific, writing 19 books and 500 scholarly papers and editing 24 volumes before his early death due to a stroke at age 53.  Focusing primarily on international economics and economic theory, he played a leading role in the development of the Heckscher-Ohlin model of international trade.  He was known for articulating the connections between the ideas of major postwar economic innovators and, according to biographer D. E. Moggridge, defined the vital issues that “set the profession’s agenda for a generation.”  An influential editor of the Review of Economic Studies, the Journal of Political Economy, the Manchester School, and Economica, Johnson was considered so important to the field that Nobel laureate James Tobin called the third quarter of the 20th century “the age of Johnson.”

A large group of people standing on a staircase, including Harry G. Johnson

Attendees at the International Economic Association South-East Asia Refresher Course in Economics, Singapore July – September 1956, Nanyang Siang Pau Photo Graphic Department. Harry Johnson (first row, far right). Special Collections Research Center, The University of Chicago Library.

Professor Johnson’s papers were donated to the University of Chicago Library by his children, Karen Johnson and Ragnar Johnson.  The 100 linear feet of materials include research and teaching papers, correspondence, and photographs. An additional gift, from David Levy, AM’70, PhD’79, will support the in-depth work of organizing the papers into an archival collection that will be ready for research. Additionally, an online finding aid, or guide, to the organized papers will provide a clear understanding of the contents of the collection.  “The power of the University Archives can’t be fully appreciated without finding aids,” said David Levy, a professor at George Mason University specializing in economics and the history of economic thought.

Professor Levy recalls his UChicago graduate school days enthusiastically. George Stigler served as the chair of his thesis committee, and Johnson acted as an additional reader.  “Every time I would talk to Harry, he would remind me that his first article was on David Ricardo, and my dissertation was on David Ricardo,” he said. Levy was particularly proud when, after a painful meeting with the committee, Johnson showed confidence in him by citing a paper he wrote in The Two-Sector Model of General Equilibrium.

Folded newspaper showing article on "The consequences of Keynes" on top of folder

Harry G. Johnson, “The Consequences of Keynes,” Times Literary Supplement, February 7, 1975. Special Collections Research Center, The University of Chicago Library.

Levy expects his gift will help future scholars better understand Johnson and his impact.  “Harry is one of the most important teachers at Chicago, but he’s not considered ‘Chicago School,’ which is actually sort of a problem for the history of ideas.  He’s not noted for free market advocacy,” Levy said. “Harry helped make the distinction between Keynes and Keynesians. He would combat myths wherever he saw them.  From my point of view, that’s his greatest contribution.”

A conference on “The Legacy of Chicago Economics” held at the University of Chicago in 2015 made it clear that the common perception of the “so-called Chicago School” has changed over time. At its origins in the 1930s, economics at the University of Chicago was not focused on promoting a single point of view or ideology, but rather about “finding an approach to studying economics.”  The gifts that make the archives of George Stigler and Harry G. Johnson part of the Library’s collections have the potential to change future researchers’ understandings of what the “Chicago School” was and how the University of Chicago—in the broadest sense—influences the future of economics.

Student access issues resolved

10/24/18, 6 p.m. update: All issues have been resolved. If you are experiencing any problems with access to Library services or spaces, please contact us at Ask a Librarian.


Many students’ access to Library buildings or online services was briefly interrupted this morning.  As soon as the Library became aware of the problem, Library staff began admitting students to the buildings while working on addressing the underlying problems. Access to Library buildings has now been restored, and we are working with University colleagues to resolve problems with access to online resources requiring login as quickly as possible.

If you are experiencing any problems with access to Library services or spaces, please contact us at Ask a Librarian.

We apologize for the inconvenience.

“Library Adventures in a Digital Age,” a history of medicine pop-up display

Library Adventures in a Digital Age

Join Dr. Mindy Schwartz, Professor of Medicine and Associate Program Director for Internal Medicine at the University of Chicago, in the Special Collections Research Center for a special pop-up display of rare medical history collections.

Library Adventures in a Digital Age:
Chicago Connections
Friday, October 26, 1:00 – 4:30 p.m.
Special Collections Research Center
Regenstein Library, 1st floor

View a selection of books and objects from our collections that enhance our understanding of the history of science and medicine, and learn how they can be used for research and teaching. A resource guide will be available.

For more information about the event, contact the Special Collections Research Center.