The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Foster, William Trufant (1879–1950)

  • Robert W. Dimand
Reference work entry


The educator and heterodox monetary economist William Trufant Foster was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on 18 January 1879, and died in Winter Park, Florida, on 18 October 1950. After his father’s early death, Foster worked his way through high school and Harvard University, graduating first in his class in 1901. After teaching at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, he returned to Harvard to take an A.M. in English in 1904, followed by a Ph.D. from Teachers College of Columbia University. His exceptional success as a teacher of rhetoric and a textbook author, and the vision of an ‘ideal college’ presented in his doctoral dissertation (published in 1911), led to his remarkably early promotion from instructor to full professor at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, in 1905, and his appointment at the first president of Reed College in Portland, Oregon, in 1910. Foster served as an inspector with the American Red Cross in France after US entry into the First World War. Health problems from overwork, together with controversy over his pacifism, led Foster to resign from Reed College in December 1919. He then became director of the Pollak Foundation for Economic Research, founded in Newton, Massachusetts, by his Harvard classmate Waddill Catchings, an investment banker.


American Economic Association Catchings, W. Foster, W. Great Depression Growth, models of Harrod–Domar growth theory Hoover Plan Monetary policy rules Paradox of thrift Pollak Foundation Recessions Underconsumption 

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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert W. Dimand
    • 1
  1. 1.