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Bubbles, Panics, and Crashes: A Century of Financial Crises, 1830s-1930s

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Detail, Somerset County, Maine map, Baker Library Historical Collections

One year after the sub-prime mortgage crisis, this website presents a small collection of historical materials and information surrounding four financial crises in the 19th and early 20th century: the Panic of 1837, the Panic of 1873, the Bankers' Panic of 1907, and the Great Crash of 1929. Each section includes a brief explanation of the crisis, including causes and consequences, and between four and six primary sources, including maps, images of bank notes, title deeds, and letters. These sources highlight the complexity of crises and their increasing internationalization over time, as well as issues surrounding historical interpretation of the crises.

The website also includes sections on the Waltham Watch Company, which drew on lessons learned during the Panic of 1937 to mechanize the production of watches; and the real-estate boom of the early 1920s, which has been used recently by economists and historians to better understand current connections between real estate markets and financial crisis. Finally, a bibliography of close to 30 works on the history of these crises, links to manuscript collections, trade publications, and financial databases, give website visitors suggestions for further study.