Harris, Seymour Edwin, 1897-1974

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Epithet: Professor of Harvard University, economist

British Library Archives and Manuscripts Catalogue : Person : Description : ark:/81055/vdc_100000001123.0x00033e

Seymour Edwin Harris (Sept. 8, 1897 - Oct. 27, 1974), economist, teacher, author, and public servant, was born in New York City, the son of Augusta Kulick and Henry Harris. He received his B.A. from Harvard in 1920 and his Ph.D. from Harvard in 1926. His doctoral dissertation was awarded the David A. Wells Prize in 1927. Harris began his teaching career at Princeton as an instructor in 1920. He left that post in 1922 to return to Harvard as an instructor and to pursue graduate work in economics. Upon receipt of his doctorate, Harvard promoted him to lecturer (1927); he became assistant professor in 1933, associate professor with tenure (belatedly) in 1936, and full professor in 1945. Harris was appointed Lucius N. Littauer professor of political economy on July 1, 1957, a post he held until 1963. Between 1955 and 1959, he chaired Harvard''s economics department. When he retired from Harvard in 1963, he became chair of the economics department at the University of California, San Diego. In the late 1930''s along with Alvin Hansen, Paul Samuelson, and John Kenneth Galbraith, Harris popularized Keynesian theory in a nation philosophically distrustful of the federal government and committed to individualism and private enterprise. He was a prolific author, writing more than fifty books in his career. Not all his works were well received. For instance, one reviewer, professor Robert Lekachman, charged that in Harris''s Economics of the Kennedy Years and a Look Ahead (1964), the exposition was unclear, the statistics undigested, and the text ill-organized, but laid these "disfiguring marks" to "hasty composition." That this explanation was probably correct and that the faults were not endemic may be inferred from the success of Harris''s other books. Harris also served as editor of the Review of Economics and Statistics (1943-1964) and as associate editor of the Quarterly Journal of Economics (1947-1974), and was editor of the volumes Postwar Economic Problems (1943), Saving American Capitalism (1948), Schumpeter, Social Scientist (1951), and The Dollar in Crisis (1961). Harris''s books on health--The Economics of American Medicine (1964) and The Economics of Health Care (1975)--and on education--How Shall We Pay for Education? (1948), The Market for College Graduates (1949), More Resources for Education (1961), Higher Education (1962), Economic Aspects of Higher Education (1964), and Challenge and Change in American Education (1965)--were ahead of their time. In the mid-1990''s, for example, the United States was the only large industrial nation without a national health plan, and its public educational system was underfinanced and under critical attack for teaching mathematics and science poorly and for trying to do too much, as in sex education. Harris criticized physicians for their high earnings, claiming they were more interested in income and status than in public service. He did note, however, that their higher incomes reflected longer working hours (sixty hours per week was not uncommon) and the shifting of travel costs to consumers (most doctors had given up house calls by the 1960''s). At the same time, he claimed that hospital services and drugs were overpriced; hospital daily charges had risen at two and a half times the rate of income growth over the period 1948-1963, with most gains going to salaries and wages of professional staffs. To fund future medical costs he favored private insurance plans, cautioning that cost containment was necessary to protect consumers. In education Harris recommended more realistic financing by the federal and state governments to keep education abreast of inflationary price changes. Further, he suggested that public colleges charge tuition with heavy subvention for students from low-income families through long-term loans (as long as forty years). He wanted to substitute user fees for tax underwriting of public college costs. Harris, however, was not ideologically bound to the private market approach. In an article in a Catholic journal he endorsed the policy of federal aid to private colleges, including those with religious affiliations. On the other hand, he maintained on constitutional and economic grounds that private primary and secondary schools should not receive public aid. Harris''s public service included serving as chief consultant (1961-1967) to Secretary of the Treasury Douglas Dillion, for which he received the Treasury Department''s highest honor, the Alexander Hamilton Award. Presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson, and presidents Lyndon B. Johnson and John F. Kennedy sought his advice. (Prior to his death, Kennedy had intended to appoint him to the Federal Reserve Board; Johnson did not appoint him to the vacancy, however, which was a major disappointment.) In the 1950''s, when Japanese exports to the United States began to grow, Harris chaired the New England Governors'' Textile Committee, a group that requested legislative help to stem the flood of Japanese textiles to the United States.

From the description of Harris, Seymour Edwin, 1897-1974 (U.S. National Archives and Records Administration). naId: 10677980

Harris was an attorney in New York City.

From the description of Correspondence to Alma Mahler, 1957. (University of Pennsylvania Library). WorldCat record id: 155863416

Harris (1897-1974) (Harvard, A.B., 1920; Ph. D., 1926) was Littauer Professor of Political Economy at Harvard.

From the description of Papers of Seymour E. Harris, 1930-1974 (inclusive). (Harvard University). WorldCat record id: 76973333

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Harvard University. Dept. of Economics. Records of S. E. Harris, 1956 May. Harvard University Archives.
referencedIn Gilbert, Richard V. (Richard Vincent), 1902-1985. Papers, 1939-1948. Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
referencedIn Paul A. Freund papers Harvard Law School Library Langdell Hall Cambridge, MA 02138
referencedIn Papers of Alexander Gerschenkron Harvard University Archives.
referencedIn League for Industrial Democracy. League for Industrial Democracy. Pamphlets, 1922-1978. Cornell University Library
creatorOf Seymour Harris Papers. 1946 - 1961. Subject Files John F. Kennedy Library
creatorOf Vol. xxxviii. (ff. 248). 1934-1949.includes:ff. 6, 44 David Hutchison Macgregor, economist: Letters to Sir R. F. Harrod of David Hutchison Macgregor: 1926-1935. ff. 10, 163 Felix Frankfurter, Justice of the US Supreme Court: Letters etc., to Sir Roy ..., 1934-1949 British Library
referencedIn Gore Vidal papers, 1850-2020 (inclusive), 1936-2008 (bulk) Houghton Library
creatorOf Wright, David McCord, 1909-1968. Papers of David McCord Wright [manuscript], 1820-1953. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Isidore Sydney Falk papers, 1918-1984 Yale University. Department of Manuscripts and Archives
referencedIn Stevenson, Adlai E. (Adlai Ewing), 1900-1965. Adlai E. Stevenson papers, 1861-1990 (bulk 1952-1965). Princeton University Library
referencedIn Hudson, Manley Ottmer, 1886-1960. Papers, 1894-1960 Harvard Law School Library Langdell Hall Cambridge, MA 02138
referencedIn League for Industrial Democracy. Pamphlets, 1922-1978. Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives
creatorOf Hendrickson, Robert Frederick. Accounting procedures at Harvard College as practiced during the tenure of Treasurer John Davis, April 1810-February 1827. Harvard University Archives.
creatorOf Sharfman, I. Leo (Isaiah Leo), 1886-1969. Isaiah Leo Sharfman papers, 1914-1962. Bentley Historical Library
referencedIn William Ernest Hocking papers Houghton Library
creatorOf Harris, Seymour Edwin, 1897-1974. Papers of Seymour E. Harris, 1930-1974 (inclusive). Harvard University Archives.
creatorOf [Seymour Edwin Harris, biographical materials] University of Wisconsin - Madison, General Library System
referencedIn I. Leo. Sharfman papers, 1914-1962 Bentley Historical Library
referencedIn Congressional Papers of John F. Kennedy. 1946 - 1961. 1960 Campaign Files
referencedIn The Nation, records, 1879-1974 (inclusive), 1920-1955 (bulk). Houghton Library
referencedIn Falk, I. S. (Isidore Sydney), 1899-1984. Isidore Sydney Falk papers, 1918-1984 (inclusive). Yale University Library
creatorOf Harris, Seymour. Correspondence to Alma Mahler, 1957. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
Seymour Harris Papers John F. Kennedy Library
referencedIn Chester Bowles papers, 1924-1982 Yale University. Department of Manuscripts and Archives
creatorOf Harris, Seymour Edwin. Tables accompanying the economics of Harvard / Seymour Edwin Harris. Harvard University Archives.
referencedIn Chester Bowles papers, 1924-1982 Yale University. Department of Manuscripts and Archives
referencedIn Harvard University Archives Photograph Collection: Portraits, ca. 1852-ca. 2004 Harvard University Archives.
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Bowles, Chester, 1901-1986. person
associatedWith Falk, I. S. (Isidore Sydney), 1899-1984. person
associatedWith Gerschenkron, Alexander. person
associatedWith Gilbert, Richard V. (Richard Vincent), 1902-1985. person
associatedWith Harvard University corporateBody
associatedWith Harvard University. Dept. of Economics. corporateBody
associatedWith Hendrickson, Robert Frederick. person
correspondedWith Hocking, William Ernest, 1873-1966 person
associatedWith Hudson, Manley Ottmer, 1886- person
associatedWith John F. Kennedy Library. corporateBody
associatedWith Johnson, Lyndon B. (Lyndon Baines), 1908-1973. person
associatedWith Kennedy, Edward M. (Edward Moore), 1932-2009. person
associatedWith Kennedy, John F. (John Fitzgerald), 1917-1963. person
associatedWith Kennedy, Robert F., 1925-1968. person
associatedWith Keynes, John Maynard, 1883-1946. person
associatedWith League for Industrial Democracy. corporateBody
correspondedWith Nation (New York, N.Y. : 1865). corporateBody
associatedWith Onassis, Jacqueline Kennedy, 1929-1994. person
associatedWith Paul A. Freund person
associatedWith Schlesinger, Arthur Meier, 1917- person
associatedWith Sharfman, I. Leo (Isaiah Leo), 1886-1969. person
associatedWith Stevenson, Adlai E. (Adlai Ewing), 1900-1965. person
associatedWith Vidal, Gore, 1925- person
associatedWith Wright, David McCord, 1909-1968. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States


Birth 1897-09-08

Death 1974-10




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