Dorfman, Joseph (1904–1991)
Historian of American economic thought, Dorfman was born in Russia in 1904 and educated at Reed College and at Columbia University, where he earned a Ph.D. degree in 1935 and taught from 1931 until his retirement 40 years later. Dorfman was a student of Clarence Ayres at Reed, and of Wesley C. Mitchell and John Maurice Clark at Columbia. Mitchell in turn had been a student of Thorstein Veblen. These four economists, all with institutional leanings, stand out among the formative influences that affected Dorfman’s early career. He made Veblen the subject of his doctoral dissertation, which was published under the title Thorstein Veblen and His America in 1934. This was at the time the only book-length appraisal of a modern economist that gave close attention not only to the subject’s writings but also to biographical detail, the contemporary climate of opinion, and the general social and cultural setting of the work.