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Museum of American Finance and Augustana College Launch New Financial History Institute

The Museum of American Finance and Augustana College today announced the launch of The Thomas Willing Institute for the Study of Financial Markets, Institutions, and Regulations, an initiative that will fund and support student research fellowships and educational outreach programs. The Institute will include an online resource and will feature public and Internet speaking engagements by the Institute’s director, Dr. Robert E. Wright, the Nef Family Chair of Political Economy at Augustana College.

The Institute’s website,, features an extensive glossary of business, economic, and financial history terms and includes links to important research websites. In addition, research fellowships worth $2,500 each will be offered to two Augustana students in the summer of 2011.

“Student research is a very important part of what we do here,” said Augustana President Rob Oliver. “We’re thrilled that the Thomas Willing Institute will allow students to conduct research in the crucial but underappreciated topic of financial history and to share their findings with the world.”

David J. Cowen, president of the Museum of American Finance, said the Museum is pleased to cement its long-time relationship with Wright in this manner.

“Bob Wright has helped the Museum in several capacities in the past, and the new Institute will allow us to work even more closely together in our efforts to spread the benefits of financial education throughout this great country of ours,” Cowen said. “It is also appropriate at long last to honor and bring alive the legacy of Thomas Willing.”

The Institute is named in honor of Thomas Willing (1731-1821), a Philadelphia merchant and politician who became America’s first commercial banker, its first central banker and an important supporter of the nascent marine and life insurance industries. More information and a cartoon video about Willing are available on the Institute’s website.

Funding for the Institute is provided by Augustana College, the Nef Family endowment and the Museum of American Finance.

About the Museum of American Finance
The Museum of American Finance, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, is the nation’s only public museum dedicated to finance, entrepreneurship and the open market system. With its extensive collection of financial documents and objects, its seminars and educational programming, its publication and oral history program, the Museum portrays the breadth and richness of American financial history, achievement and practices. The Museum is located at 48 Wall Street, on the corner of William Street, and is open Tues–Sat, 10 am – 4 pm. For more information, visit or connect with the Museum on Facebook or Twitter.

About Augustana College
Founded in 1860, Augustana College in Sioux Falls, S.D., is a selective, residential, comprehensive college of the Lutheran Church. Committed to enriching lives and fostering development, Augustana combines a foundation in the liberal arts with professional skill and advanced study, leading the Templeton Guide to include the College among those that inspire students to lead ethical and civic-minded lives. With nearly 1,800 students from 25 states and two dozen countries, Augustana was ranked the No. 6 baccalaureate college in the nation for its efforts to advance social mobility, research and service by Washington Monthly; has been named a “Best Midwestern College” by The Princeton Review; and is listed as a “Great School, Great Price” by U.S. News & World Report. Augustana celebrates its sesquicentennial during the 2010-2011 academic year.

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