Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Launch of the National Strategy for Business Archives in Scotland

Monday, 27 December 2010

We are pleased to announce that the launch for the National Strategy for Business Archives will be held on 20th January at 5pm in Edinburgh.

The invitations have been sent and we've had a great response to our requests for case studies and will be unveiling them at the launch.

We have been fortunate to be offered the use of the Museum on the Mound by Lloyds Banking Group Archives as the venue which makes a great location to showcase business use of archives and museum objects.  Directions to the Museum are available on their website here.


Scotland's Hundred Oldest Companies Project

Monday, 20 December 2010

Over the next three months the I'll be working on a project to identify the record holdings of the 100 oldest Scottish companies still registered with Company House in Edinburgh.

The central outcome will be the development of a guide to the records of all the companies, including notes on the history and terms of use and access (this guide will be made available on the BACS website when complete). The companies on the list represent a cross section of Scottish business life, ranging from the companies managing community halls to large multinational firms, and this project will celebrate the richness of this diversity and heritage.

The purpose of the project is to create a valuable resource for future users and researchers of business archives; establish a project that can be used to increase the awareness of business archive use; and to reach out to businesses that may have valuable records and have not previously been approached by the BACS. The project will also be used to tie in with the launch of the Strategy for Business Archives in Scotland in January, raising the profile of business archives amongst record holders and record users alike.

I'll also be regularly posting my progress on here as the project launches early next year. I hope that I'll be able demonstrate some solutions and actions that can make use of the trapped value in business records, and perhaps put the spotlight on some previously under-appreciated collections.

I welcome any comments and suggestions...


Crisis Response Team

Friday, 17 December 2010

A Crisis Response Team was established by the Business Archives Strategy for England & Wales in 2009. This small team was been established to help co-ordinate rescue work and offer help and advice where business enter into receivership liquidation so that archives can hopefully be saved for the nation. The team works closely with local archive repositories and other organisations with an interest in business heritage.

At the first Implementation Group meeting of the Scottish Strategy is was decided that Kiara King (Ballast Trust Archivist) should become the new representative for Scotland.

If you are aware of any business that may be going into receivership or ceasing trading then please contact Kiara ( with information and the details will be circulated to the Crisis Response Team so that the appropriate action can be taken.  


New BACS Surveying Officer

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

David Luck has been appointed as the new BACS Surveying Officer, and will be updating this blog in the forthcoming months. Like David Powell, David will be based in Glasgow University Archive Services, and can be reached on the BACS address or at .


Guardians of heritage

Sunday, 14 November 2010

A great series of articles in the New York Times this weekend about luxury brands and how they use their archives.

The overview is here and discusses how business archives and archivists can reinforce key marketing messages, perpetuate brand myths and create PR narratives with examples from Chanel, Tiffany, Gucci and Pringle.

There are also individual detailed case studies from:

  • Aquascutum - whose Archivist states that “society has a new perception of the relevance of history nowadays.  My part is bringing that to life within Aquascutum.”
  • Christian Dior - their collection includes original haute couture samples as well as personal items belonging to Mr Dior such as travel albums and his handwritten collection of cooking recipes.
  • Liberty - whose prime users are their fabric design studio and the company are keen to use the archive for brand heritage but not be enslaved by it.
  • Patek Philippe - whose archivist believes that she has "more resources and that my work has a more active role in keeping the heritage alive.”
  • Salvatore Ferragamo - where the eldest of the Ferragamo children, Fiamma recognised the importance of the archives and "considered culture to be an essential element for the elaboration and understanding of company strategy... and besides being a system of records, the archive is also a place for memory in the dynamic sense.”


BACS Surveying Officer

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

The post of BACS Surveying Officer has been advertised here.


Business Archives website

Thursday, 28 October 2010

The SCA have kindly offered to provide web space for information about Business Archives in Scotland.

I will still be posting here with news and items of interest but the website will be where the case studies will go up on and any other resources that we develop.


Business Archives for Family History

Friday, 15 October 2010

On Wednesday this week I gave a presentation to the Central Scotland Family History Society about using business archive collections for family and local history.  My slides are available on slideshare and below:


Implementation News

Thursday, 7 October 2010

The first meeting of the Implementation Group is happening next week on Tuesday.  We are going to be discussing the first year action plan and the launch so that should mean that I will be able to report on some progress this time next week hopefully!


Business Archives at the University of Glasgow

Thursday, 16 September 2010

The University of Glasgow Archive Services have put together this great video about their collections. It includes information about the the Scottish Business Archive and the collections this contains.


Publicising the national strategy

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Plans are ongoing for the official launch of the national strategy for business archives in Scotland but in the meantime we are publicising it where we can.  One such event is the the European Business History Association's conference this week at the University of Glasgow's Centre for Business History.

We hope that business historians will be interested in the strategy and particularly the actions aimed at increasing the use of business archives for academic research purposes.

To help with the publicity, I've created a small leaflet that I thought I would share here as well for downloading and printing (although it is a full colour leaflet so make sure you set it to print black and white).


Strategy is now available

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

The National Strategy for Business Archives in Scotland can now be view and downloaded here.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has helped David and I to produce this document.  A launch for the strategy is being planned and details will be posted here once they are finalised but we hope the launch will take place in the Autumn.

Any comments about the strategy can be sent to me at or


Pringle to form an Archive

Monday, 26 July 2010

Pringle of Scotland have launched an appeal to the public to help it create an archive of its 195 year history.  They are looking for objects, documents, photographs and memories of the company and the brand.  This information will help form the basis of a company archive in Hawick.

The company is hosting a ‘Day of Record’ at the site of the former factory in Hawick on Thursday 12th August (10am - 6pm).  This will be an Antiques Road Show style day for local people to come along and bring in their treasures and share their memories of the company.

To find out more about the day please email:

To find out more about the history of pringle, there is a brief overview provided by a heritage in luxury.


RBS Archive news

Friday, 16 July 2010

Congratulations to the Royal Bank of Scotland Archives who have had one of their collections recognised by the UNESCO Memory of the World Register.

Thanks to Alison Turton for the following information sent to ARCHIVES-NRA:

"Following on from the announcement yesterday from David Dawson, Chair of the UNESCO UK Memory of the World Working Group, RBS Group Archives is pleased to announce that a collection of its documents has been inscribed on UNESCO’s new UK Memory of the World Register.

The inscribed archives relate to the Company of Scotland Trading to Africa and the Indies. Dating from the 1690s, they tell the story of a failed Scottish attempt to build a trading colony at Darien, in present-day Panama. The scheme’s catastrophic failure prompted an economic collapse that was instrumental in forcing Scotland towards political Union with England, finally enacted in 1707. As a result the archives are uniquely significant in documenting the economic circumstances underlying the foundation of modern Scotland.

The nomination for the UNESCO register was made by the RBS archive team with the National Library of Scotland, which also holds Company of Scotland records.

To coincide with the launch of the UK Memory of the World Register, we have refreshed our online teaching resources for schools, which include materials based on the story of the Darien scheme and the Company of Scotland archives. This resource is available in English and Gaelic on our new website at:

We’ve also added to the information available in our online archive guide about the Company of Scotland archive - just type ‘RBS Heritage Online’ into your browser."


A Living Archive - Dundee University & Canongate Publishers

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

With thanks to Patricia Whatley for this information via Scotarch:

The University of Dundee Archive and Canongate publishers have joined together to create a 'living archive'.  The University is to be the custodian of the Canongate Archive, which will include all the publications produced, draft manuscripts, artwork and marketing material and accounts. The University Archive is also working with Canongate to ensure that significant electronic records, including emails and texts, are included in the archive on an ongoing basis, which will provide a full record of the company and its ongoing development within the digital age.

This is a great example of partnership working for a business archive, particularly for such an important literary collection.  From the press release it is clear that the company have recognised that "having the expertise and knowledge of the University’s Archive Services to help us record and document our past, present and future is a generous gift and a wonderful opportunity." (Jamie Byng, Publisher and Managing Director of Canongate Books.)  More information about the archive is available here.

Canongate, founded in 1973, is one of the most exciting, dynamic and innovative publishing houses in the world, with a stable of international names bursting with literary talent and original ideas - David Simon, Barack Obama, Yann Martel, Philip Pullman - yet its roots are firmly Scottish and it retains the spirit of the Scottish Canon.


So long, farewell...

.... to David who has moved to Stornoway to become the Project Manager for the new Archives Service for the Western Isles.

"The new Archives service will support the preservation, awareness and access to the archive collections in the Outer Hebrides by increasing the level of professional support and advice available to public agencies. It will build on the richness of local archive collections, and promote the Gaelic language, culture and heritage of the Western Isles."  More information about the project can be found in this press release.

I'd like to wish him the best of luck and say a huge thank you for working to develop the strategy.

I should also mention that if you wish to get in touch about the strategy then please email either the BACS ( or me ( and not David anymore. 


Next steps

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Now that we've had all the responses in, thank you again to all who contributed, what will we be doing next?  The next step is to finalise the strategy and plan for its launch (probably after the summer).  As well as doing this we also need to plan for the actions we want to implement in the first year and work these up into detailed pieces of work that we can assign to willing stakeholders and partners.  For example, creating a centralised online list of all the business collections in Scotland is one of the main outcomes we hope to acheive in the first year.

Is there anything you particularly want to see in the first year's actions.  Bearing in mind that the actions included in the strategy are general ones that we'll implement over a 5 year period, what should be prioritised and what needs to happen first?


Consultation responses

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

The closing date for the consultation was last Friday and we have been pleased with the responses which have included lots of insightful comments and a good range of respondents:

Archivists - 30%
Records Managers - 30%
Users/Researchers - 40%
Work in a Business - 20%
(NB some respondents classed themselves as both archivists and records managers which is why the numbers don't add up.)

We will be extending the consultation period for this week as well so if you haven't responded then there is still time, even if you just want to jot down some ideas in an email and send it to

Information about the consultation is available here.



Monday, 26 April 2010

The Consultation Draft of the National Strategy for Business Archives in Scotland is now available for comment. 

The Consultation Draft is available as a pdf file, if you require Adobe Reader it can be downloaded from here.

Responses can be submitted in the following ways:

  • Send general responses or comments to

  • Complete the consultation response form online.
  • Download and complete our consultation questionnaire and return it to:
    BACS Surveying Officer
    c/o Archives Services
    University of Glasgow
    77-87 Dumbarton Road
    Glasgow G11 6PW
    Email: bacs
Further information about the strategy and its development can be found on the BACS website and elsewhere on this blog.


Cataloguing grant for Business Archives

Good news for business archive collections in the UK.  In support of the English and Welsh National Strategy for Business Archives, the Business Archives Council (BAC) has announced a new £2000 cataloguing grant for business collections.

The aim of the grant, in funding the cataloguing of a business collection in either the private or public sector, is to:

  • provide financial support for institutions/businesses that manage business archives
  • reach collections that have not yet been prioritised but have potential academic or socio-historical value
  • create opportunities for archivists or para-professionals/volunteers to gain experience in listing business collections
  • make more business collections accessible 
More information can be found on the Managing Business Archives website and application forms can be downloaded from the Business Archives Council website.


The consultation is coming...

Friday, 23 April 2010

... first thing next week.  We'll be making the consultation draft available for comments and suggestions from any interested parties.

You will be able to respond using an online survey, our consultation response form by email with general comments or also by leaving you comments on this blog.


Managing Business Archives

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

One of the main resource outcomes of the English and Welsh strategy has been the Managing Business Archives website.  It provides examples of best practice in managing business archives and has lots of information to help businesses manage their collections.  It includes information on:


The Men In Grey

Monday, 8 March 2010

"Accountancy has a reputation for dullness but its history is the history of civilisation itself" according to this article in the BBC News online Magazine published on Friday. The article looks at the almost silent role of "grey" accountants in history. By looking at events such as the Holocaust and Highland Clearances, it demonstrates how the records created by these individuals are a key source for telling the stories of these events.

Financial records are an often neglected record type commonly found in business archives. I don't think this is so much because of a fear of maths or numbers but because of what can seem the baffling relationships between cash books, day books, ledgers and the double entry book-keeping system. So, this light-hearted yet informative article in the BBC News Magazine really brought home the value of these records and their potential.

Double entry booking can seem like a dark art to many, but if you speak to a historian of accounting (they do exist) they'll tell you that it is the most important development in the world. Ever.

Jolyon Jenkins will cover more on this subject in a ten-part series A Brief History of Double-Entry Book-keeping daily on BBC Radio 4 from Monday 8 March at 1545.

A couple of years ago, the Business Archives Council of Scotland ran a training day for archivists on financial records and the double entry system books of accounts. The training materials explaining the main books of accounts and tracing transactions through various documents from this day are available on the BACS website here.


King Coal! Archive film and talk in Bo'ness

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Brian Murray of the Scottish Mining Museum and a former coal surveyor will be introducing a film show at Bo'ness Hippodrome on Wed 28 April 2010 at 11 (refreshments available from 1030).

Launched in conjunction with the BFI's "Britain's Industrial Heritage" project, the archive films used provide an insight into an industry which came to define 20th century Britain. Early films will include "A Day in the Life of a Coal Miner" (1910) to 1940s animation and 1980s documentary footage shot during the Miners' Strikes. The Scottish ballad, "The Blantyre Explosion" will also feature, commemorating the disaster at Dixon's Colliery at High Blantyre in 1877 in which over 200 miners perished.

Tickets costs:
Screening plus refreshments: £5.25
Screening only: £2.60

The Hippodrome, 10 Hope Street, Bo'ness, EH51 0AA.
Box Office: 01324 506850


Consultation is Coming!

Well, this does seem to be dragging on a bit but we're almost there with the final draft of the strategy. We're waiting on a little information from a key partner and ironing out a couple of corners and then we will be ready to put it out to public consultation.

Kiara and I would like to thank all the people who have taken the time to speak to us, answer our questions and generally allowed us to pester them in getting this far with the draft. Thanks!


Insights from banking archives

Friday, 19 February 2010

An article in last weekend's Times discusses new insights into the life of Lewis Carroll from his bank account records.  Read more. (Thanks to Maria Sienkiewicz for sending this to the Archives-NRA Listserv.)

There has also been a bit of discussion on the listserv about the records of nationalised banks eg Northern Rock and whether they should be considered public records and what this would mean for their long-term preservation and care.  The discussion raised some interesting points (see here) and emphasised again the importance of a business archives strategy and its successful implementation to protecting vulnerable business archives from all sectors.

It turns out the Northern Rock records have been deposited with Tyne and Wear Archives.  Details here.


December into January

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Whoops, we've been a bit quiet of late but hopefully that will be remedied over the coming weeks!

The final draft of the Business Archives Strategy for Scotland is in the final throws of preparation and should be public within the next few weeks for comment. Watch this space for more news!

Scotland is now formerly represented on the Crisis Response Team that has been established by the Business Archives Strategy for England & Wales. This small team has been established to help co-ordinate rescue work and offer help and advice where business enter into receivership liquidation so that archives can hopefully be saved for the nation. The team will work closely with local archive repositories and other organisations with an interest in business heritage.

It is recognised by the English & Welsh strategy that business, trade and industry do not stop at the border between Carlisle and Berwick. So, for example, First Quench owners of the Thresher and Victoria wine retail chains is very much and English company. However, they also owned the Scottish chain of Haddows so it is sensible that Scotland takes an interest in the records of the parent company and offers support. Scotland is represented on the team by David Powell, the Surveying Officer of the Business Archives Council of Scotland.


About This Blog

This blog will provide information about the development of a National Strategy for Business Archives in Scotland. It will also be used to provide general updates about Business Archives in Scotland.

This blog is written by Kiara King, the Ballast Trust archivist. Updates on the Data Mapping Project are written by Cheryl Brown, project officer.


The Business Archives Strategy for Scotland was published in August, read it here. Keep an eye on the blog for more news about business archives and the strategy's implementation.

You can also contact us at any time with thoughts and contribute your comments to the blog!

Contact us

Please contact us if you have any comments or suggestions.

Kiara King (Ballast Trust Archivist)