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HBS Adds Economist Brimmer’s Papers to Special Collections

Harvard Business School’s Baker Library at dusk.
Harvard Business School’s Baker Library at dusk. By Amy Y. Li
By Anna M. Kuritzkes, Crimson Staff Writer

Harvard Business School’s Baker Library has added the accumulated works of Dr. Andrew F. Brimmer, a prominent economist, the first African American federal reserve governor, and a former HBS faculty member, to its permanent Special Collections.

The papers, donated by Brimmer’s wife after his passing in 2012, include scholarly work spanning his entire career. Brimmer’s research career kicked off when he was a Fulbright scholar in India in 1951. He later served as a governor of the Federal Reserve system, a professor at HBS, and an employee in the private sector.

During his time in the private sector, he worked as a consultant and served on the boards of multiple prominent companies, including Dupont and United Airlines, according to his daughter Esther.

A press release from Baker Library stated that the collection includes “subject files, correspondence, research files, teaching records and files,” and other forms of written and audiovisual documentation. Senior Director of Baker Special Collections Laura A. Linard said the works amount to 500 boxes of material, or 17.3 gigabytes digitally.

“[The collection] includes 50 years’ worth of research on the structure of the American economy,” Esther Brimmer said. “It includes his actual published papers and also the notes and documentation that show up underlying the articles and other work.”

Linard said the collection was incredibly comprehensive, covering a large span of time in meticulous detail, and will provide “wonderful” in-depth data for researchers at HBS.

“It really adds to the resources we have in terms of financial history,” Linard said. “Brimmer was an expert on international monetary policy, and so the extent of materials that cover this area in terms of international trade, et cetera, is really helpful.”

In addition to his macroeconomic research, Brimmer also studied the status of African Americans in the national economy as reflected through wage statistics and other economic indicators, Linard said. The press release asserted “several items” from Brimmer’s collected works are currently being highlighted in an exhibit at Baker Library as a part of the African American Student Union’s 50th anniversary celebration.

“We very much wanted the collection, and then we knew when we were doing the exhibit that we wanted to highlight some portion of this,” Linard said.

Linard said she was very excited to see the ways in which HBS students and faculty, as well as academics around the globe, will use the collection.

“There's so many ways that the collection could be used—so many different arenas,” Linard said.

“I think that being able to contribute to a larger intellectual debate on that is something that would have made my father very proud,” Esther Brimmer said.

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