Date of Award

Spring 1994

Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Ruff, Julius R.


I consider myself to be one of the luckiest persons alive because, since I was a preschool child, I have known that I wanted to be a teacher. I attended school with the intended goal of becoming a teacher, and before I was ten years old I decided that history would be my chosen field. When I was a senior in college, my professors urged me to attend graduate school and become a professor of history. This dissertation is the final requirement in a life-long quest to become the thing that I have wanted since I was a child, a teacher. Now, I must evaluate the reasons why I have chosen this profession and this particular topic. Ever since I was a child I have been fascinated by trains, planes, ships, and all types of vehicles. My grandfathers and my father were all mechanics, and I spent hours watching them as a child. I have always been interested in building things, organizing things, and making them work. Perhaps that is why my love of history and things mechanical have combined into my studies of transportation and transportation networks. During my graduate studies, I wrote papers on Charlemagne's empire-building policies, the expansion of the Medici and Fugger banks into European networks, the plight of American shipping during the Napoleonic Wars, and the trade of iron and coal during the inter-war period. This work on French railroads is simply the latest work in a trend. Upon the suggestion of my advisor, I began examining the archival records of the various French railroad companies, and after discovering that few English-language works existed, I decided to proceed with a study of railroads. At the time I chose the topic in 1992, Francois Caron had done the most recent work in the field. His Histoire de l'exploitation d'un grand reseau: la compagnie du chemin de fer du Nord, 1846-1937, which was first published in 1973, provided the immediate inspiration for selecting a Single road. In the years since 1992, many new works have appeared and there has been a minor Renaissance of French industrial studies. As well as works from established historians such as Caron and Francois Crouzet, a new generation of historians has recently taken interest in the French railroads. Some of the more recent scholarship includes the comprehensive work of Georges Ribeill and several works by English speaking historians such as Frank Dobbin and Alan Mitchell. Hopefully, this study will add to the new interest in railroads and contribute to the growing debate between the British and French paradigms of industrialization.



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