Francis Marion University history professor John A. Britton and professor Jorma Ahvenainen of the University of Jyvaskyla in Finland have completed a unique collaboration in the field of global business and communications history.
Britton and Ahvenainen pooled their research for what eventually became the article titled “Showdown in South America: James Scrymser, John Pender, and United States-British Cable Competition,” which appeared earlier this year in the Business History Review, a professional journal published by the Harvard Business School.
Britton is an FMU Board of Trustees Research Scholar and Gasque Professor of History and has produced several publications in the field of communications history. Ahvenainen is the author of three books on submarine cable history and recently retired as professor of history at the University of Jyvaskyla.
The two historians have been working collaboratively since 1998. In 2002, they attended the symposium “Submarine Cables: Prelude to the Internet” hosted by the Dibner Institute of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. This symposium included participants from the Sorbonne, the London School of Economics and Political Science, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the U.S. State Department, Roosevelt University, Texas A & M University, and George Washington University.
“A decisive but little-known chapter in the history of global communications involved the competition between two entrepreneurs headquartered in two nations that were, at least on the surface, enjoying friendly relations,” said Britton. “England’s Sir John Pender headed the world’s largest submarine cable enterprises centering on the Eastern Telegraph Company based in London. His rival from the United States was newcomer James Scrymser, a native New Yorker who found a gap in the Pender cable empire in Chile, and in 1890-1891 moved quickly to take advantage of it.”
Britton and Ahvenainen’s collaborative study examines in depth the competition between Scrymser and Pender for control of international communications in Chile.
#13 / 8-18-04