Many consider Allan Meltzer’s A History of the Federal Reserve as the authoritative source on the history of the Federal Reserve System.[1] Meltzer’s work was published in three parts: Volume 1: 1913-1951; Volume 2, Book 1: 1951-1969; and Volume 2, Book 2: 1970-1986.

In FRASER’s early days, Bob Rasche, then the St. Louis Fed’s director of research and one of the key people responsible for the creation of FRASER,[2] approached Dr. Meltzer about digitizing the collection of source materials used in writing these seminal texts. Dr. Meltzer graciously agreed and his boxes of materials were sent to the FRASER team.

The project quickly evolved into much more than just digitizing the contents of the boxes. First, a database was created from the reference lists in the books. Using this database, FRASER librarians worked through the boxes of materials, matched the materials to the references, and scanned what we could. For published works not found in his boxes or with only partial photocopies, we turned to our own library collection and borrowed from other libraries. We contacted repositories holding archival collections used by Dr. Meltzer to request scans, and even sent some library staff members to offsite locations to locate and scan cited documents. Authors and publishers were contacted to request copyright permission to digitize and post items on FRASER. Finally, if unable to make items available on FRASER because of the inability to obtain scans or copyright permission, we searched various databases to identify links to the materials.

Two significant products resulted from this work. The first is a digitized collection of items cited by Dr. Meltzer. The second is the creation of a linked bibliography of all the sources cited by Dr. Meltzer, with links to available digital copies on FRASER or other sources.

The boxes of Dr. Meltzer’s source materials now reside with his papers in the archives at Carnegie Mellon University.

 

[1] For example, see Bordo, Michael D. “Review of A History of the Federal Reserve. Volume I (2003) by Allan H. Meltzer.” NBER Working Paper No. 11714, National Bureau of Economic Research, October 2005; http://www.nber.org/papers/w11714; Taylor, John B. “Review of Allan H. Meltzer’s A History of the Federal Reserve, Volume 2, University of Chicago Press, 2009.” http://web.stanford.edu/~johntayl/2011_pdfs/Review_of_Allan_H_Meltzers_A_History_of_the_Federal_Reserve_Volume2_Unpublished.pdf; and Nelson, Edward. “A Review of Allan Meltzer’s A History of the Federal Reserve, Volume 2.” International Journal of Central Banking, June 2012, pp. 241-6; http://www.ijcb.org/journal/ijcb12q2a7.htm.

[2] “FRED Remembers Bob Rasche.” The FRED® Blog, June 6, 2016; https://fredblog.stlouisfed.org/2016/06/fred-remembers-bob-rasche/.

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