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Nachruf für Toni Pierenkemper


Toni Pierenkemper, 1944-2019

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We announce with great sadness that Toni Pierenkemper died at his home in Münster, Germany, on July 19, 2019.

Pierenkemper held professorships in Saarbrücken (1989-1900), Frankfurt am Main (1990-1997), and Cologne (1997-2010), in addition to a guest professorship at Georgetown University.

Pierenkemper was born in Wiedenbrück (Westphalia) on October 17, 1944, and took an unusual route to a German academic career (called “The Second Way”). Rather than complete his secondary education, he took up an apprenticeship as a mechanic (Maschinenbau) at DEMAG, the German Machinery Company in Dortmund. Only afterwards did he complete his secondary education at the Catholic Overberg Kolleg in Münster. This led to his Abitur in 1966, which enabled him to start university studies in 1967.

Pierenkemper studied economics, sociology, and economic history at the University of Münster and the London School of Economics. He received his first degree in economics in 1972, an M.A. in sociology in 1975, and his doctorate in 1977, all from Münster. He completed his Habilitation (a more advanced degree required to hold a professorship in Germany) in 1984 at the University of Münster. From 1984 to 1989 he held a junior professorship at Münster.

He had wide-ranging scholarly interests. His doctoral dissertation on Westphalian industrialists long served as a standard reference for work on nineteenth-century German entrepreneurship. His Habilitation work dealt with German white-collar employees in industry, trade, and other parts of the economy. He continued this interest in labor markets and their institutional foundations. He also devoted considerable attention to the regional dimensions of industrialization.

Pierenkemper's advisor for his post-graduate work was Professor Richard Tilly, who supervised his doctoral dissertation and Habilitation. As a junior professor, Pierenkemper was attached to Tilly’s chair at the University of Münster. They continued to work together on various projects in the years after. Their joint work includes a book (in German) on the history of wire-weaving (1987) and an English-language overview of German economic history (2004).

Pierenkemper’s influence on German economic history extends far beyond his own research and writing. He was instrumental in the transformation of the series Jahrbuch für Wirtschaftsgeschichte (Yearbook of Economic History) into its current incarnation as a high-quality outlet for economic, business, and social history in Germany.  The Jahrbuch was founded in 1960 in the former East Germany. In 1992, following German unification, Pierenkemper led a group of scholars who ensured the periodical's survival. He served as editor-in-chief for the first decade.  He also served as the chair of economic history committee (Wirtschaftshistorische Ausschuss) of the German Economic Association (the Verein für Socialpolitik)

He leaves his mark on the dozens of younger scholars he mentored often formally, in their doctoral dissertation or Habilitationschift, but just as often informally, in the quiet word at a meeting or less quiet beer in the evening. His enthusiasm for economic history infected all who came in contact with him.

He retired from his professorship in 2010 but retained an active program of research and writing.

Pierenkemper was a doting father and husband, as well as a loyal and enthusiastic friend. He is survived by his widow, two daughters, and son.

 Richard Tilly, Münster

 Timothy Guinnane, New Haven

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