Abbott Payson Usher

Abbott Payson Usher (1883  – June 18, 1965)[1] was an American economic historian. The Society for the History of Technology (SHOT) has awarded the Abbot Payson Usher Prize, named in his honor, annually since 1961.[2]

In the late 1920s Usher, the American historian Lewis Mumford and the Swiss art historian Sigfried Giedion began to systematically investigate the social consequences of technology.[3] In A History of Mechanical Inventions Usher argued that technological innovation was a slow, collective process with many contributors, not relying on the genius of great inventors.[4]

In 1963 Usher was awarded the Leonardo da Vinci Medal by the Society for the History of Technology (SHOT).


  • The History of the Grain Trade in France, 1400–1710. Harvard University Press. 1913. ISBN 0-374-98063-2.
  • An introduction to the industrial history of England. Houghton Mifflin. 1920.
  • A History of Mechanical Invention. McGraw-Hill. 1929. (Harvard University Press, 1954; Dover Publications, 1988 ISBN 0-486-25593-X)
  • The early history of deposit banking in Mediterranean Europe. Harvard Economic Studies. 75. Harvard University Press. 1943.


  1. Smith, Thomas M. (Autumn 1965). "Memorial: Abbott Payson Usher (1883-1965)". Technology and Culture. 6 (4): 630–632.
  2. "The Usher Prize". Archived from the original on 2009-06-02. Retrieved 2009-10-06.
  3. Cutcliffe, Stephen H. (1989). In Context History and the History of Technology: Essays in honor of Melvin Kranzberg. Lehigh University Press. pp. 88–89. ISBN 978-0-934223-03-4.
  4. Molella, Arthur P. (October 2005). Technology and Culture. 46 (4): 779–796. doi:10.1353/tech.2006.0027.CS1 maint: untitled periodical (link)

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