Henry Chalmers papers , 1919-1958

Overview of the Collection

Chalmers, Henry, 1892-1958
Henry Chalmers papers
1919-1958 (inclusive)
13.75 linear feet, (13 containers)
Collection Number
Coll 241
Henry Chalmers was an economist who worked in state and national offices. His collection consists of memoranda, position papers, special studies, and correspondence relating to economic affairs.
University of Oregon Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives
UO Libraries--SCUA
1299 University of Oregon
Eugene OR
Telephone: 5413463068
Access Restrictions

Collection is open to the public. Collection must be used in Special Collections and University Archives Reading Room. Collection or parts of collection may be stored offsite. Please contact Special Collections and University Archives in advance of your visit to allow for transportation time.

Additional Reference Guides

Paper finding aid with additional information available in Special Collections & University Archives.

See the Current Collection Guide for detailed description and requesting options.

Funding for production of this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).

Historical NoteReturn to Top

Henry Chalmers (1892-1958) was an economics expert. His main interest was in the economic history of the 20th century. His career spanned thirty years, beginning around 1919 with his work on the Tariff Commission. Prior to this he worked as a statistician for the New York State Board of Health.

In 1921, Chalmers was appointed chief of the Division of Foreign Tariffs with the Department of Commerce. From 1921 until World War II, Chalmers was an important player in world economic issues of great consequence such as the Smoot-Hawley Tariff and the Most-Favored Nation Principle. During the war he was a special economic advisor and continued in this type of advisory position throughout the 1950s.

He was most popular in the 1950s for his yearly articles on world economics, which he began writing in 1926. These articles were published in book form as World Trade Policies (Berkeley University Press, 1952).

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The Henry Chalmers papers consist mainly of correspondence, memoranda, and reports relating to issues and events in world economic history from the 1920s-1950s. The collection is a solid group of papers on modern economic history and bureaucratic workings from the period. The organization of the collection is based on the manner in which it was received. The box titles (U.S. Foreign Trade, Economic Conferences and Congresses, etc.) came from a general inventory made for the collection in 1962, and so may or may not be original.

However, the subject headings came from the major file headings of Chalmers' original file system, with some necessary simplification and clarification. The file names are not, for the most part, original, and generally reflect the material type. The organization is roughly chronological with the box headings and within subject headings, once again with exceptions to provide greater clarity and unity.

Henry Chalmers was a foreign tariff expert and much of the collection deals with tariffs and tariff-agreements and regulations. Of particular interest are subject headings such as the 1930 Smoot-Hawley Tariff and GATT negotiations from the early years. A common material type throughout the collection is reports from U.S. embassies in foreign nations which give a flavor of world opinion and U.S. diplomatic relations.

Notable subjects include war- and postwar-time, and German penetration of markets from the 1930s. It must be noted also that more wartime materials can be found under the heading Economic Aspects of WWII. This section includes reports on the "European War" and material on controls of economic relations with Latin America and Japan.

Latin American economic relations play a considerable role in the collection, especially in the Customs Unions and Trade Agreements section. This section consists of historical materials on past customs agreements and planning for a future customs agreement. Of other interest relating to Latin America are the materials on the International Conference of American States held in Bogotá in 1948. This conference, at which Henry Chalmers was a delegate, saw the formation of the Organization of America States (O.A.S.) which has played an important role in modern Latin American history. Also of interest are the clippings and reports on the disturbances that rocked Bogotá and Colombia during the conference and of which Henry Chalmers was a firsthand observer.

Returning to Europe, the Customs Unions section contains important background materials on the development of the organization that would eventually grow to become the European Common Market. This material relates to both pre- and postwar Europe. The subheading of regional groupings, Europe, also contains material on German relations with various Eastern European nations in the 1930s, one of the hot issues of the coming World War.

Of European and world interest is the International Conferences and Congress section in the material on the International Monetary and Economic Conference in London 1933. Set against the backdrop of the Great Depression, the background materials of this conference suggest a world in which the principal leaders and experts are desperately trying to save a system that they know to be on the point of complete collapse. Once again Henry Chalmers is on the periphery. Of particular interest is the correspondence of this sub-heading, along with the Whaley-Eaton News Service Reports (6/45), conference chronology (7/2), various reports such as "The State and Economic Life" (7/20), the diaries of Sallie Chalmers (7/22), speeches by Soviet delegates (7/49), and "The Plan to Save the World" (7/50) and Open Letter to Cordell Hull (11/26) for radical viewpoints. In short, this section shows the depth of the attitudes and problems of the World Economic System in the early 1930s.

The Selected Memoranda were bound and of great importance to Henry Chalmers. The personal section is actually fairly barren of any personality with the exception of various biographical essays and a series of correspondence between Chalmers and the publishers of his book, World Trade Policies.

A 2010 Accession consists of correspondence, newsletters, publications, biographical information, articles and a book by Chalmers.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Economic policy--History--20th century
  • Economics--History--20th century
  • Economists--Oregon
  • Economists--United States
  • Foreign trade regulation--United States
  • Tariff--United States--History--20th century

Personal Names

  • Chalmers, Henry, 1892-1958
  • Chalmers, Henry, 1892-1958

Geographical Names

  • Europe--Economic conditions--20th century
  • Latin America--Economic conditions--20th century
  • United States--Economic conditions--20th century

Form or Genre Terms

  • Correspondence
  • Memorandums
  • Reports