Ferry de Goey (1959-2018)

business historian
Ferry de Goey

On 22 July 2018, our colleague Ferry de Goey passed away at the age of almost 59. Ferry was an internationally well-known economic and business historian, who not only contributed several books, some hundred articles and conference papers and some thirty book reviews to the field, but also played an important role in organizing the business history community in the Netherlands and internationally. He was one of a small band of historians who put the history of business in the Netherlands on a more scholarly basis and established connections with the international scholarly community. A conceptual, comparative and preferably interdisciplinary approach characterizes his extensive scientific work. Here follows a brief account of his career, and a complete list of his publications. We hope it inspires others to continue work on the topics Ferry studied and wrote about.

Ferry was born in 1959 in Willemstad on the Dutch Caribbean island of Curacao, where his father was a school teacher. After the family moved to the Netherlands in 1967, he finished secondary school, and studied geography and history at a teacher’s seminary. He continued his studies at the new History Department at Erasmus University, where he earned his MA 1986. Ferry then joined the staff of the recently established Center of Business History at the same department. He helped organize the International Conference on Business History in Rotterdam in October 1994, which became an annual event. This conference also led to the creation of the European Business History Association (EBHA). Ferry edited its Newsletter.

In 1990 he earned his PhD with a book on the establishment of industrial companies in the harbor of Rotterdam 1945-1975. His subsequent publications deal with an increasingly wide range of topics, including an edited volume which compares the Rotterdam and Antwerp harbors between 1880 and 2000 (2004), another one on entrepreneurs and institutions in Europe and Asia, 1500-2000 (with Jan-Willem Veluwenkamp, 2002), and one on American companies in Europe, 1890-1980 (with Hubert Bonin, 2008). His final monograph, Consuls and the institutions of capitalism, a global study of diplomacy and business, was published in 2014.

Ferry was an organizer as well as a researcher. His organizational activities included editorship of the major Dutch journal for the history of business and technology, coordinating an international project on entrepreneurship and institutions with Veluwenkamp, which resulted in the volume mentioned above, and the editorship of a series of volumes about Dutch business in the twentieth century (2002-2015), to which he contributed one volume, together with Jacques van Gerwen.

When  Ferry died, he had just embarked upon a transnational study of indentured labor, for which he had already collected a lot of material.

Jacques van Gerwen, Dick van Lente, Joop Visser