Finding Business Archive Collections


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These are the slides used during the Meet the Archivist event on 9th November 2012 at the University of Glasgow.

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  • The records of Scottish businesses, business-related bodies and industrialists provide crucial commentary not only on Scotland’s economic, political and social development, but also on that of the UK and many countries around the world. Business Assets Records are a business asset. They contain information vital for business continuity and are necessary to meet both short and long-term legal obligations. They provide internal information relating to an organisation’s successes and failures which are used to inform the thinking of current business leaders. They can drive competitive advantage and support and inspire business and product development. They can also aid marketing and decision making as well as providing evidence for legal and brand protection. Cultural Assets Socially and culturally, business is inclusive; it drives and funds national and local economies, touching the lives of all citizens whether they are business employees or consumers. Business success and failure defines communities – economically and physically - and consequently the people of those communities. It is critical for social cohesion and cultural identity that the business legacy is neither forgotten, nor captured only in transient human memory.
  • Advantages: Can pre-date statutory records More frequent Wealth of information Issues: Using records for a purpose for which they were not designed A fraction of companies records exist Vary in detail and scope Access restrictions
  • For example Scottish Screen has categories like Employment, industry and industrial relations, Construction and engineering & Ships and shipbuilding,
  • See GUAS website for business collections Many collections are old and were first catalogued
  • Provenance and original order important Provenance proves truth of documents - an audit trail
  • Description enough to identify and select record - to decide whether you want to see it or not Increasingly more description for web based resources
  • Whether you start broad or with a specific company, the National Register of Archives website is the best one to use as your starting point. Search for a name, like McGregor.
  • Summon that aims to provide a unified search tool for library users. The goal of this tool is to provide access to all of a library’s content, print and electronic, through a single search box.
  • Finding Business Archive Collections

    1. 1. Finding Business Archive CollectionsKiara King, Ballast Trust Archivist
    2. 2. What are Business Archives?Business archives are the historicalrecords of for profit businesses,business-related bodies andbusinessmen and women.Why are they important?As Scotland’s businesses andindustries were and are crucial inshaping its economic and socialdevelopment, so business archivesnaturally have a wider value tosociety. They can be found in mostarchive repositories.
    3. 3. Types of records found in business archivesCorporate Records Production Records• Memoranda and Articles of Association • Technical plans/drawings • Models/prototypes• Minute books Employee Records• Share registers • Staff files• Letter books • Accident booksFinancial Records • In-house magazines• Annual reports and accounts Marketing & Sales Records• • Advertisements Balance sheets • Sales ledgers• Account books • Packaging• Ledgers
    4. 4. How to start: identifying possible sources
    5. 5. Online resourcesAll of these links will be available catalogues•••• (Scotland)• (England & Wales)• (film archives)•••••
    6. 6. Using archive catalogues• Different types for levels of description• Collection level descriptions – Collection guides – Subject based source lists and guides• Item or piece level descriptions – Catalogues (online, word lists, paper copies)
    7. 7. Arrangement• Records only make sense in context of the archive as a whole and in context of the objects and activities of creating organization• Arrangement - to reveal the structure of the archive - provenance and original order• Not always possible - sometimes classification is necessary
    8. 8. DescriptionProvides user and manager of archives with information on: • Context of records • Physical characteristics • Intellectual contentOffers access points for the archivesDescription is a surrogate for the original recordArchives description is hierarchical and goes from general to specific (macro to micro)• Information given at highest level possible• Descriptive levels • Fonds (collection) • Series (class) • File (basic unit of handling) • Item (piece)
    9. 9. Finding archives - NRA Search
    10. 10. NRA Search result
    11. 11. NRA Search Links
    12. 12. NRA Search Organisations
    13. 13. Summon
    14. 14. Summon – filter by content for archival material
    15. 15. Remember: things to considerContext• Individual records cannot be viewed in isolation• Always look at the archive catalogue for similar or related material and secondary sources• What organisation/business created this record?• Why was it created? Is it a true record of the facts?Format• We make assumptions about documents without thinking• Format points to the type of information held within the record: printed hand- written or annotatedContent• Legible or illegible?• Why was this document created? By whom and for whom?• What is the informational content?