File B1978-0029 - Easterbrook, William Thomas James (oral history)

William Thomas James Easterbrook (oral history) [audio part 1] William Thomas James Easterbrook (oral history) [audio part 2] William Thomas James Easterbrook (oral history) [audio part 3] William Thomas James Easterbrook (oral history) [audio part 4]

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UTA 5001-B1978-0029


Easterbrook, William Thomas James (oral history)


  • Nov.-Dec. 1978 (Creation)

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4 sound tape reels (220 mins.)

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Biographical history

William Thomas (Tom) James Easterbrook was a professor of Political Science and Chair of the Department of Political Economy from 1961-1970.

He was born in 1907 in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in 1933 from the University of Manitoba. Five years later, he earned his Doctorate in Economics from the University of Toronto. He taught for a time at Brandon College, earning a Guggenheim fellowship for his research into the economic history of the Pacific Northwest, before joining the University of Toronto faculty in 1947.

Easterbrook wrote a number of books including Canadian Economic History, a textbook that he co-authored with Hugh Aitken; Farm Credit in Canada; and Approaches to Canadian Economic History, a work he co-authored with Mel Watkins. Easterbrook was also Chairman of the Department of Political Economy during an important period in its history. According to Stefan Dupré, who succeeded Easterbrook as chair of the Department from 1971 to 1974 [1], “[D]uring his decade from 1961 to 1970 as head of the family, [Easterbrook] literally created the modern Department of Political Economy, both in size and in scope.” [2] In addition to leading the Department during a time of rapid growth, Easterbrook was partly responsible for the creation of the Institute for Policy Analysis.

Easterbrook died in March 1985. He left behind a daughter, Jane, and two sons, Michael and Joel. Hs wife, Mary, predeceased him.[3]

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Oral history interview conducted by Paul A. Bator. Covers family background and early education through post- retirement activities, ca. 1934-1978. Focusses on his graduate work and career at Brandon College, University of California (Berkley), Harvard University and the University of Toronto's Dept. of Political Economy, its faculty, students and curricula, the effects of the Great Depression and World War II, information theory and the move to unicameralism at the University of Toronto.

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