Colston Warne

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Colston Estey Warne (August 14, 1900 – May 20, 1987) was a professor of economics and one of the founders of Consumers Union (along with Arthur Kallet), in 1936. He served as president of the board of directors from 1936 to 1979. He also served as President of the International Organization of Consumers Unions (IOCU) from 1960 to 1970.

Early life[edit]

Warne was born in 1900 in the Finger Lakes region of New York.[1] His father managed a country store, farmed, and participated in the local Presbyterian church.[1] Warne attended nearby Cornell University where in 1921 he graduated with a master's degrees in economics.[2] While there he met his future wife, Frances Lee Corbett, who was studying home economics.[1] He also began studying the writings of Thorstein Veblen with Veblen's friend and supporter Herbert J. Davenport.[1][3] In 1925 Warne earned a doctorate in political economy from the University of Chicago.[2] He taught at the University of Pittsburgh and later became professor of economics at Amherst College from 1930 until his retirement in 1969.

At Amherst, his courses on labor history were highly popular during the 1930s. After World War II, he participated in the required sophomore American Studies course, where he edited several of the "Problems in American Civilization" anthologies produced in that course and widely imitated. After his retirement, under President John William Ward, Amherst awarded him an honorary doctorate.

Un-American Activities[edit]

He testified before the House Un-American Activities Committee, when it investigated charges of Communism in the consumer movement. Speaking in 1954 to have Consumers Union removed from the list of subversive organizations, Warne said, "I am an upstate New York Yankee... I am not a Communist."[4]


He is an Ordo Honoris brother of the Kappa Delta Rho fraternity, having initiated into the Beta chapter at Cornell University.


Warne died May 20, 1987 in Bedford, Massachusetts.


  1. ^ a b c d Brobeck 1997, p. 619.
  2. ^ a b Brobeck 1990, p. 138.
  3. ^ Silber 1983, p. 23.
  4. ^ Hudson 1987.


Further reading[edit]