Schenectady's home for history
Alfred Winslow Jones (1900-1989) created the first hedge fund in 1949, but his motives may seem peculiar in retrospect. This “lifelong Democrat or (Norman Thomas) socialist” thought hedge funds — far from becoming bywords for inequality — might stabilize markets, produce conditions of common prosperity, and encourage socialist-style policies of wealth redistribution. Where and when did Jones learn his socialist ideals? As a schoolboy growing up in the G.E. Realty Plot during Schenectady’s Progressive Era turn to municipal socialism. Socialist Schenectady’s effects, it turns out, have reached far beyond the banks of the Mohawk…just not in the way its champions hoped.
David Huyssen is a U.S. historian and Visiting Scholar at the Free University’s J.F.K. Institute in Berlin. He is author of Progressive Inequality (Harvard U.P., 2014) and has taught history at Yale, Wesleyan, the New School, NYU, and the University of York (UK). His writing and commentary on capitalism and class relations have appeared in numerous U.S. and European venues — including the Los Angeles Times, BBC, Le Monde, and Deutsche Welle — and his latest academic article, “The ‘Background Conditions’ of the Hedge Fund in General Electric’s Schenectady” appeared in Transatlantica’s March 2021 issue. Huyssen grew up in New York.
This is a virtual talk presented on Zoom. Admission is $8, or free for members. To register as a non-member please visit schenectadyhistorical.org/tickets. Members do not need to register. A link for this program will be emailed to all Schenectady County Historical Society members the day of the virtual program.