Childs, William R. 1951-
Childs, William R. 1951-
Born March 3, 1951. Education: University of Texas, Austin, B.A., Ph.D.
Office—Department of History, Ohio State University, 204 Dulles Hall, 230 W. 17th Ave., Columbus, OH 43210. E-mail—[email protected]
Writer, historian, and educator. University of Texas, Austin, and University of Georgia, Athens, former instructor; Ohio State University, Columbus, professor, 1984—. Contemporary American Theatre Company (CATCO), Columbus, member board of directors (president, 1998-2000), historical consultant.
ChoiceOutstanding Academic Book, 1986-87, for Trucking and the Public Interest: The Emergence of Federal Regulation, 1914-1940.
Trucking and the Public Interest: The Emergence of Federal Regulation, 1914-1940, University of Tennessee Press (Knoxville, TN), 1985.
(Editor, with Scott B. Martin and Wanda Stitt-Gohdes) Business and Industry, Marshall Cavendish (New York, NY), 2003.
The Texas Railroad Commission: Understanding Regulation in America to the Mid-Twentieth Century, Texas A&M University Press (College Station, TX), 2005.
Contributor to The Encyclopedia of the United States in the Twentieth Century, 1996; editor, Essays in Economic and Business History, 1994-98.
A professor of American history at Ohio State University, William R. Childs has focused on the intersection and interaction of the economy on politics and culture. He takes these interests into the books he has penned as well. His 1985 title, Trucking and the Public Interest: The Emergence of Federal Regulation, 1914-1940, provides a close examination of federal legislation and regulation of the trucking industry. Working with others, Childs also helped to edit the eleven-volume Business and Industry, a reference work aimed at secondary-school students. David A. Flynn, reviewing this work in the Reference & User Services Quarterly, found it a "unique and beautiful multivolume reference work that will help young people and others begin to learn about principle business concepts that impact so much of their daily lives and their future." Almost four hundred articles fill the volumes of this reference work, accompanied by sidebars, charts, and plentiful color photographs. Pioneers of industry (with a focus on Americans such as Henry Ford and Martha Stewart) are profiled, company histories are provided (including old-style economy with General Electric, and new style with Amazon.com), and business concepts from globalization to recession and credit are defined and explained in alphabetical order. A comprehensive index, glossary, and the text of important documents in industry and business are provided in the eleventh volume. School Library Journal contributor Jonathan Betz-Zall also had praise for Business and Industry, noting that individual entries "are clearly written using lively language and realistic … examples." Betz-Zall further observed that the work overall nicely balances "brevity" with "depth." Like other reviewers, a Booklist contributor concluded, "Presenting basic business information in a clear, readable style accessible to the intended audience, this set is recommended for high-school and public libraries."
In his 2005 book, The Texas Railroad Commission: Understanding Regulation in America to the Mid-Twentieth Century, Childs looks at the history of a little-known state agency "with uncanny parallels to today's [business] headlines," according to Antioch Review contributor Barbara Epstein. The same reviewer termed the book "a fascinating … account of the origins of administrative law." The Texas Railroad Commission was established in 1891, and Childs takes the reader back to the time of its inception, looking at the political and economic debates that led to its creation. Once established, the commission, for half a century, had sweeping powers to regulate railroads, oil and natural gas, and motor carriers. Childs examines not only the political climate, but also profiles two of the commissioners, John Reagan and Colonel Ernest O. Thompson, who led the body through hard times. Epstein felt that readers would acquire a true understanding "of the people and politics that shaped … petroleum production in Texas." Writing on Humanities and Social Sciences Online, Christopher Jones noted, "Without clinging to ideological extremes, Childs explores the history of the Texas Railroad Commission (TRC) in order to illustrate the rise of commission-style regulation in America." Jones went on to praise the resulting book: "[Childs's] account is a rich social history that combines law, politics, economics, policy, people, and culture to tell a complex and balanced story. In particular, Childs argues that law and culture have shaped American regulation in ways that accounts focused on ideology or industry structure often fail to grasp." Similarly, EH.Net contributor Gary Libecap thought the work was a "well-written, carefully-researched, and very useful book" that would help to explain the origins of the regulatory role of government.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Historical Review, February, 1988, Otis L. Graham, Jr., review of Trucking and the Public Interest: The Emergence of Federal Regulation, 1914-1940, p. 247; February, 2007, Richard J. Orsi, review of The Texas Railroad Commission: Understanding Regulation in America to the Mid-Twentieth Century, p. 251.
Antioch Review, summer, 2006, Barbara Epstein, review of The Texas Railroad Commission, p. 579.
Booklist, March 1, 2004, review of Business and Industry, p. 1228.
Business History Review, autumn, 1986, Bruce E. Seely, review of Trucking and the Public Interest, p. 509; autumn, 2006, Andrew W. Foshee, review of The Texas Railroad Commission, p. 557.
Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, March, 2004, L.K. Miller, review of Business and Industry, p. 1275.
Journal of American History, December, 1986, Joel W. Eastman, review of Trucking and the Public Interest, p. 788; September, 2006, Diana Davids Hinton, review of The Texas Railroad Commission, p. 576.
Journal of Southern History, February, 2007, George Harrison Gilliam, review of The Texas Railroad Commission, p. 207.
Library Media Connection, August-September, 2004, Robert T. Carter, review of Business and Industry, p. 81.
Reference & Research Book News, May, 2004, review of Business and Industry, p. 110.
Reference & User Services Quarterly, winter, 2004, David A. Flynn, review of Business and Industry, p. 130.
Reference Reviews, January, 2004, John Lawrence, review of Business and Industry; June, 2004, Blanche Woolls, review of Business and Industry.
School Library Journal, August, 2004, Jonathan Betz-Zall, review of Business and Industry, p. 56.
EH.Net,http://eh.net/ (March, 2006), Gary Libecap, review of The Texas Railroad Commission.
Humanities and Social Sciences Online,http://www.h-net.org/ (February 24, 2008), Christopher Jones, review of The Texas Railroad Commission.
Ohio State University, Department of History Web site,http://history.osu.edu/ (February 24, 2008), "William Childs."