Because I’ve been asked a couple times in the past few weeks, here’s a short reading list on the history of the Federal Reserve System.

Start with

Sanders, Elizabeth. Roots of Reform: Farmers, Workers, and the American State, 1877-1917. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999.

Read pp. 236-266 and also 471n125.

With this in mind one may then profitably turn to some of the following, depending on your particular interests.

Friedman, Milton and Anna Jacobson Schwartz. A Monetary History of the United States, 1867-1960. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1963. Particularly chapters 4-8.

Galbraith, John Kenneth. Money: Whence it Came, Where it Went. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1975. Particularly chapter 10.

Meltzer, Allan H. A History of the Federal Reserve, 1913-1951. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003.


Dewey, Davis Rich. Financial History of the United States. New York: Longmans, Green—you need the fifth or later edition. A classic and available in its entirety on Google Books.

And because the modern Federal Reserve is very much a product of the Great Depression,

Chandler, Lester V. American Monetary Policy, 1928-1941. New York: Harper & Row, 1971.

And if needs must: Edward Flaherty on Federal Reserve conspiracy theories.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, of course, but it seems to me a good way to start.