Spotlight on the Archives: Frank W. Fetter (1899-1991)

This installment of Spotlight on the Archives turns to Frank W. Fetter (1899–1991). Fetter was a historian of economics who taught at Princeton University, Haverford College, and Northwestern University. In the 1920s, Fetter served with the Kemmerer Commission of Financial Advisers to Government, working in Chile, Bolivia, Ecuador, Poland, and China. His papers contain numerous photographs taken in those countries. From 1950 to 1973, was a director of the National Bureau of Economic Research.

The collection of his papers highlights the academic and consulting experiences of a twentieth-century American economist and documents Fetter’s intellectual development as an historian of economic thought. There is some material on his professional service for the Kemmerer Commission, following his father, Frank A. Fetter, who was a key participant in the Commission.

The largest series in the collection are the Publications Series and the General Research Series; there are also some materials pertaining to his teaching. His publications and research focused on the study of the history of economics, in particular inflation and international economic thought.

In 1982, Fetter was made Distinguished Fellow of the History of Economics Society.

A transcript of a 1974 interview with Fetter can be found on the website of the Harry S. Truman Library. Fetter worked with Office of the Lend-Lease Administration (1943-44) and the Department of State (1944-46).

The photo shows Frank W. Fetter as a graduate student at Princeton in 1926. Frank W. Fetter Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.

For more photographs of items in the Fetter Papers, see our Facebook page.