Mary Bridges is a sixth-year graduate student in US history. Her research focuses on the international expansion of US banks in the early twentieth century. Under the direction of Professors Sarah Igo and Paul Kramer, her dissertation examines the way US banks’ establishment of branches around the world affected foreign relations, trade, and social orders. Her work focuses especially on the way in which US bankers working overseas assessed credit-worthiness, both before and after the creation of the Federal Reserve System, and how these practices influenced local relationships as well as the global economic status of the United States. Before graduate school, Mary worked as a journalist at Condé Nast, as well as a researcher and editor for several academic institutions. She holds a B.A. from Harvard in history and science and an M.A. from Yale in international relations.
Mapping the World for US Commerce: US International Banking Credit, and the Globalizing US Economy, 1900s -1930s
“Mapping the World for US Commerce” examines the overseas expansion of US banks in the early twentieth century by connecting large, macroeconomic changes with the daily realities and decisions of bankers working in the field. It argues that the internationalization of US banks should not be seen as a triumph of managerial capitalism but rather as an exercise in reliance on the US government for economic and political support. The study offers the first detailed analysis of the early US bank internationalization. Focused on the period when the United States shifted from being a debtor nation to becoming a major global creditor, the dissertation pairs an analysis of structural economic change with bankers’ practices and cultural judgments, which became embedded in the emerging architecture of US trade finance.