Profile Major Works Resources

Charles Franklin Dunbar, 1830-1900.

Portrait of C.F. Dunbar

Charles F. Dunbar was the head of Harvard economics during the first quarter-century of its existence. 

A self-trained economist of the Classical and apologist stripe, Dunbar's background was in Harvard Law. From 1856 to 1869, Dunbar was part-owner and editor of the Boston Daily Advertiser.  After two years of training in economics in Germany and England, Dunbar was appointed to the first separate chair of political economy at Harvard in 1871, replacing the controversial Francis Bowen.  Dunbar's courses relied primarily on classical texts, like Smith, J.S. Mill, Cairnes and Fawcett.

Dunbar took on a wide variety of duties at Harvard, serving for a while as dean (1890-95).  Dunbar collaborated in President Eliot's man in his attempt to recast Harvard as a modern research university.  Dunbar's first research student was Stuart Wood, and he served as mentor to younger colleagues like Silas M. Macvane, J.L. Laughlin and Frank W. Taussig.   Dunbar was also the founding editor of the Quarterly Journal of Economics in 1886.  

Schumpeter would later write dryly of Dunbar, "And so, though not a great economist in the sense appropriate to this book, he was a great economist in the sight of God." (Schumpeter, 1954: p.866)



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Major Works of Charles F. Dunbar

  • Extracts from the Laws of the United States relating to Currency and Finance, 1875 [bk], [1881 ed]
  • "Economic Science in America, 1776 - 1876", 1876, North American Review (Jan), p.124 [moa], [1904 repr]
  • Chapters on Banking, 1885 [bk]
  • "The Reaction in Political Economy", 1886, QJE (Oct), p.1-27 [js] [repr]
  • "Deposits as Currency", 1887, QJE (Jul),  p.401-419 [js] [repr]
  • "Ricardo's Use of Facts", 1887, QJE, (Jul), p.474-76 [js], [repr]
  • "Notes on Early Banking Schemes in England", 1888, QJE, (Jul), p.482-90 [js] [repr]
  • "Some Precedents followed by Alexander Hamilton", 1888, QJE, (Jul), p.32-59 [js] [repr]
  • "The Direct Tax of 1861", 1889, QJE,, (Jul), p.436-61 [js] [repr]
  • Laws of the United States relative to Currency, Finance and Banking, from 1789 to 1891. 1891 [bk] [1893 ed], [1897 ed]
  • Chapters on the Theory and History of Banking, 1891 [bk] [1901 ed.], [1917 ed., ed. Sprague]
  • "The Academic Study of Political Economy, 1891, QJE, , (Jul), p.397-416 [js] [repr]
  • "The Bank of Venice I", 1892, QJE (Apr), p.308-35 [js][repr]
  • "Appendix: The Banco Del Giro of Venice", 1892, QJE, (Apr), p.371-97 [js])
  • "Accounts of the First Bank of the United States", 1892, QJE (Jul),  p.471-74 [js] [repr]
  • "The Bank-Note Question", 1892, QJE,  (Oct), p.55-77 [js] [repr]
  • "The Bank of Venice, II", 1893, QJE, (Jan), p.210-16 [js]
  • "The New Income Tax", 1894, QJE , (Oct), p.26-46 [js], [repr]
  • "Appendix: The Income Tax of 1894", 1895, QJE, (Jan), p.223-34. [js]
  • "State Regulation of Prices and Rates", 1895, QJE, (Apr), p.305-32 [js]
  • "The Safety of Legal Tender Paper", 1897, QJE, (Apr), p.223 [js] [offp], [repr]
  • "The Career of Francis Amasa Walker", 1897, QJE, p.437-48 [js]
  • "The National Banking System", 1897, QJE (Oct), p.1 [js] [repr]
  • "Can We Keep a Gold Currency?", 1899, QJE (Apr), p.314 [js] [repr]
  • Economic Essays, 1904 (ed. Sprague) [bk] including unpublished:
    • "The Crisis of 1857" (c. 1875, p.266)
    • "The Crisis of 1860" (c. 1875, p.294)
    • "State Banks in 1860" (p.314)
    • "The Establishment of a National Banking System" (p.330)
    • "The Circulation of the National Banks, 1865-1900" (p.346)




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Resources on C.F. Dunbar

  • "Review of Dunbar's Chapters on Banking and Dunbars Laws relating to Currency, Finance and Banking", by E.R.A. Seligman, 1891, PSQ (Sep), p.571 [js]

  •  "Dunbar, C.F.", 1899, National Cyclopedia of American Biography, v.9

  • "Charles Franklin Dunbar, Professor of Political Economy in Harvard University ", 1900, QJE (Feb) p.285 [js]

  • "Charles Franklin Dunbar" by F.W.Taussig, 1900, Harvard Monthly [p.187]

  • "Charles Franklin Dunbar", by F.W. Taussig, 1901, Proc AEA [js]

  • "Professor Dunbar" by J.L. Laughlin, 1900, JPE
  • "Introduction" by F.W. Taussig to C.F. Dunbar's Economic Essays, 1904  [bk]
  • "Charles Franklin Dunbar", by Charles W. Eliot, 1908, in J.T. Morse, Sons of the Puritans, p.59-93 [bk], [av]
  • "Old Generation of Economists and the New", Alfred Marshall, 1897, QJE [p.1]


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