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The Leatherby Libraries is proud to be the repository of the personal library of Milton and Rose Friedman. Since 2003 the library received over 4,000 books and bound volumes. The collection is available for students to use with a special bookplate honoring Milton and Rose Friedman. There are over 175 rare books in the collection, including a 1707 treatise on the cost of corn in England, and many archival items, such as Friedman’s Ph.D. diploma from Columbia University.
The Milton and Rose Friedman Reading Room display was made possible by a generous gift of Dick and Pat Wallace.
Milton Friedman was one of the most important economists of the 20th century in two quite different senses—as a scholar changing the beliefs of economists and as a public intellectual changing the world. His scholarly work was largely responsible for replacing the post-war Keynesian understanding of the causes and cures of inflation and unemployment with what is now called monetarism. As a writer and speaker addressing the general public, he played an important role in moving public opinion, in the US and elsewhere, away from reliance on government ownership, control and regulation and towards support for free markets and private orderings. In the role of a public intellectual writing books such as Capitalism and Freedom and, with his wife Rose Friedman, The Tyranny of the Status Quo, creating the popular television series “Free to Choose,” giving public lectures and writing a regular column for Newsweek, Milton Friedman argued not only for his views on inflation and unemployment but in favor of free markets and individual freedom on a wide range of issues. As a member of President Nixon’s Commission on the Volunteer Army he was largely responsible, according to the reports of participants, for its final conclusion--unanimous support for ending the draft. He argued against price and wage controls, against exchange controls, in favor of free trade and floating exchange rates, against the War on Drugs, in favor of permitting educational choice through school vouchers.
Travelling abroad, he argued the virtues of free markets to a wide variety of people, including fellow intellectuals and heads of state, in a wide variety of societies--communist, western, and third world. His arguments, pointing out the evidence and explaining the reasons for the success of markets and the failure of central planning played an important role in the shift away from government planning and control that has improved the lives of hundreds of millions of people in countries such as China and India.
To those who knew him, Milton Friedman was extraordinary not only as an academic but as a person. He was willing to talk with anyone from President to cab driver, answer letters from anyone. His skill as a debater was legendary--George Stigler once quipped that everyone likes to argue with Milton, especially when he isn’t there--yet his professional opponents, figures such as Galbraith and Samuelson, were personal friends. His death not only deprived the economics profession of one of the most influential economists of the 20th century and the world of one of its strongest voices for individual freedom, it deprived a very large number of friends and relatives of one of the finest human beings they had had the good fortune to know.
Milton Friedman’s friendship with Chapman began in May 1992, when he gave the Induction Address at the inauguration of President James L. Doti, who had been a doctoral student of his in the early 1970s. The Friedmans visited Chapman again in May 2001 for the dedication of the Milton Friedman bust, which stands just east of Bertea Hall, near the south entryway to the campus.
At that dedication ceremony, President Doti announced the naming of the Milton and Rose Friedman Reading Room in the Leatherby Libraries. This room houses the personal library collection as well as memorabilia and mementos generously bequeathed to Chapman by the Friedmans as a result of their friendship and esteem for the university.
Milton Friedman passed away in November 2006. President Doti fondly recalled his teacher and mentor, saying, “While we physically lost perhaps the greatest champion of freedom of our time, the legacy of this thoughtful and wise man will endure forever.”
Born: Brooklyn, 1912
Principal books, by date of publication:
Income from Independent Professional Practice with Simon Kuznets (1945)
Chapman University Leatherby Libraries
One University Drive Orange CA 92866