Commons, John Rogers

Commons, John Rogers,

1862–1945, American economist, b. Hollansburg, Ohio, grad. Oberlin, 1888. Influenced by the other social sciences, Commons tried to broaden the scope of economics, especially in his noted Legal Foundations of Capitalism (1924) and Institutional Economics (1934). He was also interested in immediate social problems, chiefly those dealing with labor, and served on many government commissions. Commons was one of the editors of A Documentary History of American Industrial Society (10 vol., 1910–11) and History of Labor in the United States (4 vol., 1919–35).


See his autobiography, Myself (1934); biography by L. G. Harter (1962).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Commons, John Rogers


Born Oct. 13, 1862, in Hollandsburg, Ohio; died May 11, 1945. American economic historian and sociologist. Professor of economics at the University of Wisconsin from 1904.

Commons was the founder of what is known as the Commons-Wisconsin orientation in the American historiography of the labor movement. He was the first in American historical science to single out the economic factor as a determining aspect in the development of the labor movement. At the same time, he remained a vulgar economist, advocating pragmatism in the evaluation of the tasks and nature of the movement.


Labor and Administration. New York, 1913.
Industrial Goodwill. New York, 1919.
Trade Unionism and Labor Problems. Boston-New York, 1921.
Industrial Government. New York, 1921.
History of Labor in the United States, vols. 1–4. New York, 1918–35. (Coauthor.)
Institutional Economics, vols. 1–2. Madison, 1959.
Legal Foundations of Capitalism. Madison. 1959.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Commons, John Rogers

(1882–1945) economist; born in Hollandsburg, Ohio. He was both an economic theorist and a renowned labor historian. Without ever completing his graduate studies, he was able to secure teaching positions including a professorship at the University of Wisconsin in 1904. An active policymaker, he drafted early employment and union legislation in Wisconsin and then at the federal level.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
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