Sidney Pollard

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Siegfried (Sidney) Pollard (21 April 1925 – 22 November 1998) was a British economic and labour historian, and Professor at the University of Sheffield. He pioneered the study of the role of economic management in the processes of industrialization - an industrialization which he thought was best examined at regional levels rather than national levels.[1][2][3]


Siegfried Pollak was born in Vienna to Moses Pollak and Leontine Pollak. They were Jews from Galician. His father had come to Vienna before 1914, and his mother had come shortly after the beginning of the First World War to escape anti-Semitic riots. His father was a traveling salesman, and his mother had been a teacher before marriage. They were relatively wealthy, which allowed their son to attend a private secondary school. This school made students aware of the Jewish tradition to mediate and was therefore an early target of anti-Semitic attacks.

After annexation of Austria to the German Reich in 1938, the family lost their home and the father was dismissed. The family was able to let Pollard leave with the Kindertransport programme to the UK, but the parents had to stay behind. Pollard never saw his parents again, and their fate remains unknown.

In England he first attended an agricultural school, which prepared for a later life in a kibbutz in Palestine. In addition, he took correspondence courses. At the age of sixteen Pollard went to Cambridge and worked in a nursery. He graduated from his correspondence, and was admitted to the London School of Economics in 1943.

Pollard however volunteered in the British Army, and in this context anglicized his name. He remained in the army until 1947 as interpreter in occupied Germany. After his return he studied in Economics and graduated after two years. Later he also obtained his doctorate with a thesis on the history of shipbuilding in Britain in the period 1870 to 1914.

In 1952 he started his academic career at the University of Sheffield as Assistant Lecturer. Since 1963 he was full professor of economic history. Recognized as outstanding economic historian he was Visiting Professor in universities in Israel, the US, the German Democratic Republic, the Federal Republic of Germany, and in Australia. In 1971 he was invited by the University of California, Berkeley. However, the authorities refused him the permanent work permit because of his temporary membership in the Communist Party. Therefore, he continued to teach in Sheffield.

In 1980 he moved to the University of Bielefeld, to the new Department of Economic History. After his retirement in Bielefeld in 1990 he returned to Sheffield. The local university honored him in 1995 with the honorary doctorate.


Pollard's work on economic and labour historian focussed on Anglo-American developments, which he compared with contemporary research. In his earlier work, he devoted himself especially to the social consequences of industrialization. Starting point was his 1959 published work on the history of the labor movement in Sheffield. This work was followed by studies on trade union. In the mid-1960s his research started focussing on the development of modern management.

Since the 1970s he particular focussed on industrialization research. He did not take industrial development as a nation-state process, but described it as a regional phenomenon. He published his first essay on regional industrialization in 1973. In 1981 he published Peaceful Conquest. His reinterpretation of industrialization was inline with the research of Alexander Gerschenkron. In 1997 Pollard published his Marginal Europe, in which he describes the diminishing of former industrial zones since the late Middle Ages.

Selected publications[edit]

  • Pollard, S. (1962) The development of the British economy 1914-1950 multiple editions to The Development of the British Economy: 1914–1990 (4th ed. 1992)
  • Pollard, S. (1965). The Genesis of Modern Management: A study of the industrial revolution in Great Britain. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
  • Pollard, S. (1981). Peaceful conquest: The industrialization of Europe, 1760-1970. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Pollard, S. (1990). Wealth & poverty: An economic history of the twentieth century. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Articles, a selection:


  1. ^ Renton, D. (2004). Sidney Pollard: A life in history. London: Tauris Academic Studies
  2. ^ Haynes, Mike (2006) 'Sidney Pollard', Socialist History, 28 , pp. 87-9.
  3. ^ Renton D. , Sidney Pollard : The Refugee Historian, (Accessed April 2012)

External links[edit]