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This collection contains materials relating to the life and career of Mancur Olson, a Distinguished Professor of Economics at the University of Maryland from 1970 to his death in 1998. As a leading economist in the late 20th century, Mancur Olson was involved with the Southern Economic Association as well as the development of the IRIS Center, an economic research center, located at the University of Maryland. The collection in its entirety is a reflection of worldwide economic research and development in the late 20th century. Areas of concentration within the collection include, but are not limited to, collective action, welfare, income of racial minorities, social reporting, Nordic economies, social security, economics in communist nations, and economic growth in the American South. The Papers of Mancur Olson consist of correspondence, journal articles, publications, photographs, pamphlets, course materials, and other texts used by Olson in his research and career as a professor and economist.
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This collection contains restricted material, please check the series and folder listings for additional information.
Photocopies of original materials may be provided for a fee and at the discretion of the curator. Please see our Duplication of Materials policy for more information. Queries regarding publication rights and copyright status of materials within this collection should be directed to the appropriate curator.
166.50 Linear Feet
The Papers of Mancur Olson span the years 1944-1998 with the bulk of material dating between 1960 and 1998. The Papers of Mancur Olson consist of correspondence, journal articles, publications, photographs, pamphlets, course materials, and other texts used by Olson in his research and career as a professor and economist. Areas of concentration within the collection include, but are not limited to the collection covers collective action, welfare, income of racial minorities, social reporting, Nordic economies, social security, economics in communist nations, and economic growth in the American South.
Mancur Lloyd Olson, Jr. was born on January 22, 1932 in Grand Forks, North Dakota to a farming family of immigrants from Norway. In 1959 he married Alison Gilbert and had three children: Severin, Sander, and a daughter named Ellika. He died from a sudden heart attack in College Park, Maryland, on February 19, 1998.
Mancur Olson achieved a B.S. degree from North Dakota Agricultural College in 1954. He was a Rhodes Scholar at University College, Oxford, and received his M.A. degree from Oxford University. He then went on to complete his Ph.D. in Economics from Harvard University in 1963. Harvard University Press subsequently published his doctoral dissertation in 1965 as The Logic of Collective Action. From 1963 to 1967 he worked as an Assistant Professor at Princeton University. He was appointed Deputy Assistant Secretary of the US State Department of Health, Education and Welfare from 1967 to 1969. In 1969 Mancur Olson joined the Faculty at the University of Maryland as an Assistant Professor. In 1970 he became a Professor of Economics and seven years later he was awarded the status of Distinguished Professor of Economics.
Mancur Olson conducted research on a variety of subjects in economics, including but not limited to, collective action, welfare, income of racial minorities, social reporting, Nordic economies, social security, economics in communist nations, and economic growth in the American South. Throughout his career he worked closely with the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and the National Science Foundation to further develop research in Economics. He served the Southern Economic Association as a member of the Executive Committee in 1978-80, as President-Elect in 1980-81, and as President in 1981-82. In 1982 he published The Rise and Decline of Nations which examined the economic changes that occurred in various nations worldwide after World War II.
He was also President of the Public Choice Society and of the Social, Economic and Political Sciences Section of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and past Vice-President of the American Economic Association.
At the University of Maryland he led the creation of the IRIS Center in 1990 within the Department of Economics. The IRIS Center was established to provide a vehicle for intensive research and thinking about the dynamics of economic development, and to apply these research insights in the context of real-world development challenges. The IRIS Center continues to be an inspirational organization for students of economics and researchers alike. Mancur Olson's last book, Power and Prosperity: Outgrowing Communist and Capitalist Dictatorships was published poshumously. This text explores how economies are affected by different political systems such as fascism, communism, and democracy.
The Mancur Olson Papers consist of one series.
The collection was donated to the Univeristy of Maryland by Mancur Olson's wife, Allison Olson in August 1998.
This collection has been minimally processed. The organization of the collection reflects the order in which they were received. Loose papers were placed in acid-free folders. Duplicate copies of publications were disposed of.
Part of the Special Collections and University Archives