Alan Sweezy Oral History Interview with Rachel Prud'Homme
- Other: 2016 February 17
An interview in two sessions in February-March 1982 with Alan R. Sweezy, professor of economics in the Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences. Professor Sweezy joined Caltech's humanities faculty in 1949, after having taught for several years at Williams College. He did his undergraduate and graduate work at Harvard. During the Depression, before joining the faculty at Williams, he worked in Washington helping to set up the new Social Security System, and later at the Federal Reserve Board. His interests in economic development led him to studies of population growth, and in the late 1960s he became active in Planned Parenthood, becoming national chairman in 1972. Along with Professor Harrison Brown, Sweezy was instrumental in launching Caltech's Population Program in 1970, sponsored by the Agency for International Development (AID). The program worked closely with the American Universities Field Staff to collect and analyze data on population growth and population policy in underdeveloped countries, and several influential conferences were held at Caltech in the early 1970s on these issues. In this interview, Sweezy recalls the genesis of the program and its demise in 1974, which he attributes largely to a change of focus in the humanities division. By then the division had shifted to a narrower and more mathematically oriented brand of social sciences; macroeconomics, with its larger studies of population, resource utilization, fiscal policy, etc., gave way to microeconomics. He also comments on the wide interests of his colleagues on the faculty and on the changes in the student body over the years.