Development as a separate field
In Germany in the late 19th century, scholars in a number of universities, led by
Gustav von Schmoller, developed the
historical school of economic history. It ignored quantitative and mathematical approaches. Historical approach dominated German and French scholarship for most of the 20th century. The approach was spread to Great Britain by
William Ashley, 1860–1927, and dominated British economic history for much of the 20th century. Britain's first professor in the subject was George Unwin at the
University of Manchester).
 In France, economic history was heavily influenced by the
Annales School from the early 20th century to the present. It exerts a worldwide influence through its Journal
Annales. Histoire, Sciences Sociales.
Treating economic history as a discrete academic discipline has been a contentious issue for many years. Academics at the
London School of Economics and the
University of Cambridge had numerous
disputes over the separation of economics and economic history in the
interwar era. Cambridge economists believed that pure economics involved a component of economic history and that the two were inseparably entangled. Those at the LSE believed that economic history warranted its own courses, research agenda and academic chair separated from mainstream economics.
In the initial period of the subject's development, the LSE position of separating economic history from economics won out. Many universities in the UK developed independent programmes in economic history rooted in the LSE model. Indeed, the
Economic History Society had its inauguration at
LSE in 1926 and the
University of Cambridge eventually established its own economic history programme. However, the past twenty years have witnessed the widespread closure of these separate programmes in the UK and the integration of the discipline into either history or economics departments. Only the LSE retains a separate economic history department and stand-alone undergraduate and graduate programme in economic history. Cambridge, Glasgow, the LSE and
Oxford together train the vast majority of economic historians coming through the British
higher education system today.
Meanwhile, in the US, the field of economic history has in recent decades been largely subsumed into other fields of economics and is seen as a form of
applied economics. As a consequence, there are no specialist economic history graduate programs at any universities anywhere in the country. Economic history remains as a special field component of regular economics or history PhD programs in universities including at
University of California, Berkeley,
Northwestern University and