Matt Lowenstein

Above image: The “Asia Realty” building, Frank Raven’s offices on Sichuan Rd.

Matt Lowenstein (PhD Student, History)
“An American Banker in Shanghai: Frank J. Raven in Historiographical Perspective”
Friday, October 20th, 3-5 p.m. Wieboldt 301N?
Discussant: Spencer Stewart (PhD Student, History)

Please join us Friday (10/20) from 3-5pm, as we host Matt Lowenstein (PhD Student, History). He will present a draft of his article in progress, which he summarizes as follows:

In 1904, a 29-year- old veteran of the Spanish-American War arrived in Shanghai to take up work as an engineer. It was the beginning of a brilliant career and a charmed life. Frank Raven would go on to form a number of financial and property ventures, most notably the American-Oriental Banking Corporation. His reputation and social standing were ratified in accolades from the Shanghai American School, the Rotary Club, the American Club, and, his crowning glory, election to the Shanghai Municipal Council. But in 1935, silver poured out of country. With depositors lining up at the door, Raven was forced into liquidation. In the subsequent proceedings, the courts discovered criminal improprieties and sentenced Raven to five years in federal penitentiary. The literature treats Raven as the archetypal Great American Huckster, heir to a long tradition of confidence men, snake oil salesmen, and patent medicine cranks. For some, Raven represents American imperialism at its ugliest: greed unvarnished by higher ideals. For sympathetic scholars, he was a victim of a federal government intent on disciplining Americans abroad. This historiographical essay, relying on archives in Washington, Shanghai, and New York, and on Raven’s personal diaries, seeks to present Raven in his own terms. By taking him seriously as a financier, it hopes to open a new perspective on the history of Chinese finance during the Republican period.

The paper is available directly below, or at this link. If you have not received the password, or have questions about accessibility, please feel free to contact Helina Mazza-Hilway ( or Susan Su (


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