Week of Students: Muhammad Shehryar

Here at the RBMSCL, we’re celebrating this first week of classes by taking a closer look at a few of the wonderful student (undergraduate and graduate, Duke and non-Duke) employees who help make this place run. We wouldn’t know what to do without them, and we’d have a lot less fun, too. Thanks, y’all!

Muhammad ShehryarI still remember how excited I got in September of 2010 during a seminar given by a professor and a graduate student on their work in the Economists Papers Project collections at the RBMSCL. After a couple of meetings with Bruce Caldwell, director of the Center for the History of Political Economy at Duke, I was told that I would be working at the RBMSCL on the Paul Samuelson Papers. Fast-forwarding through a couple of hectic semesters, I started working on the papers in the first week of July. Mark Wilson, an associate professor from University of West Virginia, would work alongside me during this time.

I spent the first week familiarizing myself with the collection and reading through bits and pieces of Samuelson’s extensive work. From then onwards, I focused on the Unpublished Writings Series, 26 boxes of papers, notes and fragments, and informal correspondence on an amazing variety of topics that were never published. I worked on it for almost five weeks, organizing all the papers into categories, arranging them alphabetically and chronologically, and providing an overall description of the series to aid researchers.

One of the highlights of working on this series was that I found out that Samuelson wrote extensively on topics outside of economics. His writings on thermodynamics, mathematics, and population and sex ratios were extremely impressive. While organizing the correspondence boxes, I noticed that Professor Samuelson interacted frequently with Robert Solow, Franco Modigliani, and Robert Merton—all Nobel laureates after him—and I found out that all three of them have their papers at the RBMSCL, too! After spending the last ten days or so consolidating the boxes and updating the online finding aid, I finally shipped off a massive collection of 158 boxes to the Library Service Center, where it joins the rest of amazing archival collection that is the Economists Papers Project.

Post contributed by Muhammad Shehryar, M.A. student in Duke’s Department of Economics and graduate student employee with the RBMSCL’s Technical Services Department.