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The Making of the Modern World

“Salt is said to be the common instrument of commerce and exchanges in Abyssinia; a species of shells in some parts of the coast of India; dried cod at Newfoundland; tobacco in Virginia; sugar in some of our West India colonies; hides or dressed leather in some other countries; and there is at this day a village in Scotland where it is not uncommon, I am told, for a workman to carry nails instead of money to the baker’s shop or the alehouse.”
—Adam Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1776), in a passage on the history of currency.

The Making of the Modern World is one of the library’s newest databases and a very rich resource for researchers in history, particularly researchers interested in economic, political, and social history and their intersections. The database is based on two major collections of historical materials from the Goldsmith’s Library at the University of London and the Kress Collection at the Baker Library at the Harvard Business School. In fact, when of microforms collection of the 60,000 titles from the two collections was first published in 1972, it was popularly known as the Goldsmith-Kress Collection. Fortunately, AU students and faculty can now easily access all of this material plus some additions from other libraries from the comfort of their very own desktops rather than scanning through unindexed microforms. They can also search much more easily by keyword, author, title, and subject. The specified years of coverage are 1450 to 1850, and the majority of the materials are in English, though other European languages are well-represented. 

The collection contains an amazing range of materials. Books are reproduced in full-image exactly as they were published so it is possible to see and to read such landmark authors as Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, and John Stuart Mill in their original editions in the way that the authors and/or their publishers intended them to be read. The inclusion of serial publications with such titles as the Farmer’s Magazine, the Quarterly Magazine of the Independent Order of Odd-fellows, and the Revue des Economistes extend the coverage dates beyond 1850 and well into the late nineteenth century. Some of the topics that can be easily researched in the Making of the Modern World database are trade, commerce, finance, poverty, wealth, slavery, transport, women and gender studies, the new worlds of North and South America, and early forms of socialism and socialist thought. Altogether 61,000 works are available with full-text searching of more than twelve million pages. Special search access points include languages and illustrations of all types. 

For additional information about using this database, please contact a reference librarian.