Schlombs and Coon are 2020 Norberg Travel Grant Recipients

We are pleased to announce that the 2020 awardees of CBI Norberg Travel Grants are Associate Professor of History, Rochester Institute of Technology Corinna Schlombs and Columbia University Department of History doctoral student Ella Coon.

Dr. Schlombs is a past Tomash Fellow and she recently published Productivity Machines: German Appropriations of American Technology from Mass Production to Computer Automation (MIT, 2019). Her next book project is on the comparative history of German and U.S. data entry in the financial industry, looking at office automation, gender, race and class. Her travel grant is to support this important research. Most key punch operators were women and the critical work they did was monotonous, low skilled, and low paid labor. This has long been an under examined side to data processing and computing history, and Schlombs’ research will add significantly to many literatures. Her path-breaking research project in part builds upon the work of three other past Tomash Fellows who have worked on gender, professionalization, and labor, Profs. Mar Hicks, Nathan Ensmenger, and Janet Abbate. Schlombs plans to draw on about a half dozen of our collections including the Robert V. Head Papers and the James Cortada Digital Hand Records.

Coon is a Richard Hofstatdter Fellow at Columbia. She earned her BA from Columbia and a Master of Arts at the New School for Social Research before entering Columbia’s doctoral program in history. At the New School, she was a fellow at the Heilbroner Center.

Despite significant literature on some aspects of the business history of computing, especially on IBM in the U.S., there has been limited scholarship on mainframe multinationals’ operations in various subsidiaries around the world; and how these operations factored into to geopolitical strategies. For her Norberg-supported project, Ms. Coon is examining the operations, political economy, and technology transfer of the Control Data Corporation in South Korea, Romania, and South Africa. For this fascinating and important study, she will draw on the Control Data Corporation Records, the William Norris Papers, and the Robert Price Papers.

Jeffrey R. Yost

June 2020

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Norberg grantees 20-21

Associate Professor of History, Rochester Institute of Technology Corinna Schlombs and Columbia University Department of History graduate student Ella Coon.