Slavery’s Scientific Management: Quantification on Plantations in the American South and the West Indies

24 Sep 2015
4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

470 Stephens Hall

Event Type

Caitlin C. Rosenthal
Assistant Professor of History; University of California, Berkeley

Beginning in the 1780s, slave plantations in the British Caribbean began to use elaborate pre-formatted accounting ledgers to monitor plantation activities. This talk will examine these forms, exploring their use in sugar and cotton production in the British West Indies and their eventual dissemination to the American South. These detailed records reflect planters’ attempts to translate their power as masters into power as managers. They performed an array of calculations, from labor productivity rates to the appreciation and depreciation of human capital, and their techniques foreshadow the rise of scientific management in the late nineteenth century.

This event is sponsored by CSTMS.
Additional sponsorship comes from:  Berkeley Program in Science and Technology Studies • Office for the History of Science and Technology
Office for the History of Science and Technology