Recent Faculty Accomplishments to Note: Wendy Woloson

Dr. Wendy Woloson, a Professor of History here at Rutgers University-Camden, recently received a Rutgers subvention grant to offset publication costs related to her upcoming book, Crap: A History of Americans and Their Cheap Stuff, forthcoming from the University of Chicago Press.

Additionally, her article, “‘Fence-ing Lessons’: Child Junkers and the Commodification of Scrap in the Long 19th Century” has just been published in Volume 61.1 (February 2019) of Business History, in a special issue on “Changing Secondhand Economies.” Below is the abstract of the article. 

This article considers the circulation of junk in nineteenth-century American markets, concentrating on its various stages of commodification – and the people responsible for that commodification – as scrap was transformed from worthless garbage found on the streets into lucrative materials suitable for industrial use. The study adds to historians’ understanding of the emergence of capitalism, whose formation happened as much from the bottom up as the top down. The often-overlooked populations who engaged in petty and often illegal entrepreneurship, including the children discussed here, had a very real impact on the emerging economy. Looking at scrap more clearly elucidates the processes of commodification and the logic of capitalism at work – the transformation of miscellaneous, valueless goods into aggregated abstractions with significant economic worth.

Congratulations, Dr. Woloson! We look forward to hearing of your continued successes.