The February 2011 issue of The American Economic Review celebrates 100 years of publication. Featured in this issue is the first article published in AER in 1911: “Some Unsettled Problems of Irrigation” by Katharine Coman.
Coman received her bachelor’s in philosophy from the University of Michigan in 1880 (economics would not become a department until after Coman’s graduation that same year). While at Michigan she studied political economy with U-M President James Burrill Angell (at that time political economy was taught by the current professor of moral and intellectual philosophy, who was nearly always the president of the University or the senior member of the faculty). It was Angell who recommended Coman to Wellesley where she would, during the course of her career, teach rhetoric, economics, history, and sociology. Coman convinced Wellesley administration that economics was a subject “both suitable and necessary to the education of women” and in 1883, she taught the first course in political economy offered at Wellesley. By 1885—and not yet 28 years old--she was named full professor of history and economics. She retired in 1913 as professor emerita and died in 1915. The Katharine Coman Professorship of Industrial History was established at Wellesley in 1921.
Coman was the only woman among the AEA founders in September 1885.
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