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Colonial chic, jazz age fashion: It's all in Fraser's archive

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Colonial chic, jazz age fashion: It's all in Fraser's archive is the title of an article which appears in today's Herald about the launch of the new House of Fraser archive catalogue on Christmas Day.

The collection is held by the University of Glasgow Archive Services and is a fabulous record of the company's long history as well as being a great resource for social history, design and fashion students.  The article has input from the business as well with Gary Slattery, general manager at Frasers in Glasgow, saying:

With an impressive 162-year history there are many stories, images and more that we haven't been able to share with loyal Frasers customers. So, we're delighted the archive services at the University of Glasgow are able to share the store's history with people all over the world, thanks to the launch of their new online catalogue for the House of Fraser archive project.


Help Shape the Future of Scottish Archives and Records

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

The Scottish Council on Archives has been a great supporter of the National Strategy but they do more than support business archives, they are:

 The lead body for the advocacy and development of archive services in Scotland. We are committed to developing a national strategy to take the archival community in Scotland forward. We support historic archives in local authority record offices and elsewhere, modern records management and electronic document management services, community archives, and activities such as conservation and preservation, as well as digitisation and learning. We also aim to promote archive services to the wider public by publicising initiatives such as the annual Archives Awareness Campaign.
In January they are holding an event to help determineits Strategic Framework for 2012-2014. There will be a consultation event on Wednesday, 11 January 2012, in the Mitchell Library Glasgow (11.00am-4.00pm).

This is an opportunity for you  to help shape the future of Scottish archives and records through in-depth discussion of the guiding principles, vision, themes and objectives which will shape how the SCA moves forward over the next three years.  The SCA feels that it is essential that the strategy reflects the needs and aspirations of the entire sector and all its stakeholders.

If you would like to attend please RSVP to by the 5 January 2012.  More details are available here.


Data Mapping Project Begins

Thursday, 15 December 2011

After successfully obtaining funding from the Archives and Records Association research and advocacy fund,  the National Strategy for Business Archives in Scotland is pleased to announce the start of a six week Data Mapping Project with Cheryl Brown as Data Mapping Project Officer.

The Data Mapping Project will review and enhance existing information about business archive collections in Scotland, with the objective of creating a single improved master dataset. Using this dataset the project will present information about business collections online in a flexible and interactive format.

This will allow collections for a particular industry or geographic area to be viewed in map or timeline format. This improved accessibility will provide a fresh way to look at business archives collections in Scotland as well as enabling other means of interpretation and will benefit creators, custodians and users of business archives.

To ensure that an accurate and up to date snapshot of Scottish business archive collections in 2011 is captured, any individuals or organisations holding business archive collections not included in the National Register of Archives or other online sources are invited to contact the project at

If you have collections to include, please email Cheryl Brown by Monday 30th January 2012 with the following details (where known) for each collection:
• Reference
• Title
• Date
• Description
• Extent

We are interested in unprocessed collections so please include any collections that have yet to be catalogued.


Business Archives at Christmas

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Christmas can be a good time for business archives to showcase their collections.  Two lovely examples reflecting the need to buy presents or prepare for Christmas financially are from the House of Fraser Collection and the Royal Bank of Scotland Group Archives.

[Image from here]
This advent calendar is showcasing images from the House of Fraser Collection which is held by the University's Archive Services as part of its business collections.
The House of Fraser Archive provides a wealth of information on the company’s history. It includes the records of the company’s management in addition to the records of individual stores across the United Kingdom.
The calendar will lead up to the launch of a new online catalogue for House of Fraser on the 25th of December.

A second example is the RBS Advent Calendar from Royal Bank of Scotland Group Archives.  This advent calendar publicised through their twitter account and using images from their flickr.

[image from here]
All the images have more detailed information available about them on the main RBS Heritage site.  For example the screenshot below shows a 'Notice announcing Nottingham & Nottinghamshire Bank's Christmas Bank Holidays, 1896'.
In the week before Christmas 1896 this cardboard notice was displayed in the banking hall of one of our Nottingham branches, declaring that the banks would be closed on Saturday 26 December – Boxing Day – for a bank holiday. Boxing Day was one of four days each year that had been officially designated by the Bank Holidays Act of 1871 as holidays in England, Wales and Ireland. Scotland had its own designated holidays on slightly different days.
You can read the full description here


Business Records at TNA

Saturday, 10 December 2011

The National Archives has a very helpful resource on researching their business collections available on their website here.

One of the best things about it is that it explains what the National Register of Archives (NRA) is and how to use it.  This online register is one of the first places I start with when looking for business archive collections.

It is possible to search The National Archives (NRA) for the records of businesses using the corporate name index. Information about prominent industrialists can be found on the personal name index, while details of the records of families involved in business can be located in the family name index.


The Business Archivist in the 21st Century

Thursday, 8 December 2011

The ICA's Section on Business and Labour Archives has announced details of their International Business Archives Seminar to be held in Copenhagen next April.

The title is "With Constant Care… the Business Archivist in the 21st Century" and the flyer for it can be viewed here.  More details will be released in January 2012 but the event will run for 2 days over 16-17 April 2012 in the A.P. Moller - Maersk Headquarters in Copenhagen.

It will include presentations on:
  • Trends in general management strategy 2012-2015
  • Archives management in Mergers & Divestments
  • Organisation – how to position yourself
  • Sustainability in archives
  • Electronic Records Management – cases from the real world


BAC Archive Workshop

Friday, 25 November 2011

The Business Archives Council is holding an archive workshop for new researchers in London on Thursday 8th December.

The workshop aims to explore ways in which new research students can identify and use business records in a surprising variety of different research fields. Participants will be able to explore the vast and varied materials available at many of the UKs major and minor business archives. Now in its fourth year, this event will be hosted by The Rothschild Archive. Following a successful formula from previous years, the day will commence with an archives skills workshop run by eminent academic historians, followed by a buffet lunch, where participants will be able to meet the archivists.
Find out more here including the full timetable featuring archives and archivists from The Baring Archive, HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group, London Metropolitan Archives, The National Archives and the Rothschild Archive.


BACS & ARA event

Thursday, 24 November 2011

A reminder that tomorrow (Friday 25 November), the Business Archives Council of Scotland (BACS) and Archives and Records Association Scottish Region are holding a joint financial records conference sponsored by CAIS Dundee to introduce members of both organisations to the records of financial institutions.

It will provide a ‘hands-on’ opportunity to use the records of the Alliance Trust, one of Dundee’s prominent Investment Trusts and learn more about using financial records.

The Annual Joan Auld lecture founded in memory of Dundee’s first University Archivist will follow lunch and the day will conclude with the Regional Meeting of the Association and the AGM of BACS.

Find out more in the programme.


Welsh Business Archives

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Another Welsh initiative is the Wales Powering the World blog which is a project looking at Welsh Industry through Archives.

This Archives and Record Council Wales collobarative project was funded by the Pilgrim Trust under the National Cataloguing Grants Scheme. Ten of the most valuable un-catalogued business collections from north and south Wales were catalogued and are now available through their holding repositories. The collections were:

They are holding a workshop on Friday 27th January in Swansea at the University Archives on the subject of business archives and their use for researchers.


NLS OneSource Business Database

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

The National Library of Scotland has released information about a new business database that will provide free global business information for Scottish companies.

This database is part of its SCOTBIS service - The Scottish Business Information Service which is a national information service for Scottish businesses, based on the extensive business resources at the National Library of Scotland.

The OneSource Global Business database provides information on more than 17 million companies worldwide, including almost three million in the UK. In addition, there is information on specific industries and company executives, together with news, reports and analysis.


Welsh Copper

Monday, 21 November 2011

A website all about Welsh Copper has been lauched. The website is a learning legacy site using the resources created for the Global and Local Worlds of Welsh Copper knowledge exchange project.

It makes many of the resources generated for various of the project's initiatives freely available and is packed full of information about copper's industrialisation in Wales and how it impacted upon world trade. Highlights include exhibition guides with downloadable resources relating to the recent major exhibition at the National Waterfront Museum, Swansea, and that now accompany the travelling exhibition.

It is aimed primarily as introductory material that can be used in the class or seminar room or just by those interested in learning more about this fascinating aspect of industrial history and heritage.

It also has information about copper business archives, including news about a survey of copper archives that the project has undertaken.


100 years of Harris Tweed

Thursday, 17 November 2011

There is an event tomorrow Friday 18th November at The Old School in Shawbost, Isle of Lewis to mark 100 years of the Harris Tweed Orb organised by Harris Tweed and The Islands Book Trust.

[Image from here]
See the flyer for more details.
This one-day event, arranged by the Islands Book Trust at the request of the Harris Tweed Authority, will mark the centenary of the Orb by reviewing the history of this vitally important and distinctive island industry, celebrating its successes and achievements, and reflecting on the current and future challenges it faces.
Thanks to the Hebridean Archive Service blog for the tip-off about this event.


More infographics

Another lovely example of an infographic.  This time showing the history and company development of the many different US Airlines.

[Image from here]
This graphic was designed and created by Larry Gormley of HistoryShots. From the website:
The purpose of this graphic is to uncover and explain how the industry was created and how it arrived at its present form. At the core is a full genealogy of over 100 US airlines from the major airlines to the small local service carriers. Folded into the genealogy is the relative market share of passenger traffic for each airline. This allows the viewer to understand how the industry was controlled for many decades by the Big Four and how this dominance was quickly replaced by a number of other airlines.


Data Mapping Project

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

The NSBAS Implementation Group are pleased to announce that the Archives and Records Association have approved a grant from their research and advocacy fund for a Data Mapping Project in Scotland.

The data mapping project aims to create a single consistent and clarified dataset for business archive collections in Scotland that will provide improved and flexible information for creators, custodians and users of business archives.

It will do this by locating and mapping business archive collections and collecting policies in Scotland. The focus will be the verification of data about known business archive collections to inform the National Strategy for Business Archives in Scotland. Analysis of the results of this data collation will provide information that will inform many other areas of the strategy and create a project methodology that can be shared with partner organisations in the rest of the UK.

The project will:
  • Gather and disseminate information on business archives for use by heritage professionals, researchers and businesses to improve management of and access to collections. 
  • Develop and share a methodology for carrying out a survey of collections. 
  • Add value to existing data and share this enhanced data with owners.
We will have a project officer working on this in December and have been very fortunate this week to receive extracted data from the National Register of Archives.  This contains information about over 6,000 business archive collections which we plan to check, update and map so that users will be able to search the data by geographic area, time period and industry sector.  This ability will in turn help to identify collecting strengths and weaknesses and reveal gaps in the collections across Scotland to inform surveying policies and other work.

We will be posting about the project here on the blog as we get started and it progresses.  If you have any questions then please email Kiara or


Guinness Was Good for Us

Monday, 14 November 2011

The Scottish Oral History Centre is holding a workshop today in Glasgow at 5:30pm called 'Guinness Was Good for Us: Understanding Corporate Culture Through Oral and Visual Approaches' by Prof Tim Strangleman.

[Image from here]
The workshops are open to all and held in Room 4.02 of the McCance Building at the University of Strathclyde.

More information here.


Financial Records Training

Thursday, 27 October 2011

On Friday 25 November, the Business Archives Council of Scotland (BACS) and Archives and Records Association Scottish Region are holding a joint financial records conference sponsored by CAIS Dundee to introduce members of both organisations to the records of financial institutions.

It will provide a ‘hands-on’ opportunity to use the records of the Alliance Trust, one of Dundee’s prominent Investment Trusts and learn more about using financial records.

 The Annual Joan Auld lecture founded in memory of Dundee’s first University Archivist will follow lunch and the day will conclude with the Regional Meeting of the Association and the AGM of BACS.

Find out more in the programme.


The business of running an estate

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

The Dorset History Centre (which is the archives service and local studies library for Bournemouth, Dorset and Poole) has created an online educational pack using its manorial records.

The pack has been designed for school pupils and is pitched at key stage 3 students and contains assorted resources for teachers.

Manorial records are the records of manors which were "areas of land and property belonging to a single landowner - the lord of the manor. They were estates which included land for growing crops and grazing animals, and a manor house. Manors had their own courts which dealt with local disputes and property transactions."

So its a great example of early business records being used to teach children.


Family businesses

Saturday, 22 October 2011

The Institute for Family Business has published research which reveals the 10 oldest family businesses in the UK.  Nine of these had been trading for over 200 years and the Financial Times highlights the oldest which is a butchers called R.J. Balson & Son that started trading in in 1535. Another article about it is available here.

The ten companies are:

  • RJ Balson and Son (butchers)
  • R Durtnell & Sons (construction)
  • C Hoare & Co (private bank)
  • Morning Foods (cereals)
  • Aspall Cyder (juice & vinegar)
  • Lock & Co (hat maker)
  • Toye, Kenning & Spencer (military manufacturer)
  • Folkes Group (real estate)
  • Berry Bros & Rudd (wine merchant)
  • Salts Healthcare (surgeons’ instrument manufacturer)


Catalogue of Dreams

Friday, 21 October 2011

The University of Worcester Research Collections is holding a conference relating to its Kays Archive collection on Tuesday 15 November.

Date: Tuesday 15 November 2011
Time: 9.30am-4.30pm
Venue: Charles Hastings building, City Campus, University of Worcester
Attendance is FREE. Lunch will be provided.

Established in 1890, Kay & Co Ltd of Worcester became one of the largest mail-order companies of the 20th century. Offering interest-free cash credit, Kay & Co Ltd made both fashionable and functional living available to consumers outside the metropolis, selling everything from clothes to carpets, cheerful homewares to live chickens.

This day-long conference explores how the imagery and text of the Kays catalogues, 1920-2000, offer a prism through which to view the development of aspirational living and body image presented to consumers during the 20th century. Further details and booking forms are available here.

You can see over 1500 images that have been digitised at world of kays as part of their JISC funded project.


Changes for McEwan's & Younger's

Monday, 10 October 2011

The Scotsman reports on the sale of McEwan's and Younger's to the Bedfordshire-based brewing company Wells and Young's.

You can read about the acquisition on the Wells and Young's website as well, where their Managing Director Nigel McNally says:

“This is a significant and major acquisition, and secures the future for the much loved McEwan’s and Younger’s brands. We are hugely excited about these fantastic Scottish ales joining our stable, they bring a wealth of opportunities to our business which we will realise through brand investment, innovation and exploiting export potential. We are committed to maintaining the rich Scottish heritage of the brands. We will continue brewing McEwan’s draught ales at the historic Caledonian Brewery and we will set up a small Scottish office to support the brands and our range of beers.”


Business Archives in the FT

Monday, 3 October 2011

Another great article from the Financial Times about menswear fashion brands who are using their heritage and archives to inform their collections and brand identity.  It includes examples from Burberry, Wolsley, Belstaff and Denham.  Belstaff's chief executive Harry Slatkin is quoted as saying that:

Belstaff is an iconic English brand. When you find a brand that has such a rich history, you pay homage to it and you don’t change it. The challenge is adding modernity and making it current to today’s modern world.


RBS Archives on twitter

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

The Royal Bank of Scotland Archives are on twitter as @RBS_Archives and last week they launched a new twitter account for @Johnofthebank to allow them to tweet the 18th century diary of John Campbell, the cashier in charge of RBS during the Jacobite uprising in 1745.

From their press release: His diary records how he paid the rebels in gold from reserves held in Edinburgh Castle and the first tweet will be his diary entry from 14 September 1745, the day he took the bank's valuables to the Castle in anticipation of the Jacobites' arrival in the city. Ruth Reed, Archives Manager at RBS said:
"The diary was ideal for Twitter as it was written in small, daily sections, often with several different entries throughout the day. We're excited about using a new technology to tell a very old story, and hope it will bring this fascinating part of history to a whole new audience."


Donate a memory

Thursday, 15 September 2011

The Museum of Brands in London is holding a donate a memory day on monday 26th September from 10 am to 4.30 pm.

This is a free event for senior citizens only to celebrate their childhood memories and pass them on to the next generation. A team of volunteers will be on hand to gather visitors' memories in a digital memory bank.


Archives Matter

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

The Scottish Council on Archives recently launched their Archives Matter brochure.

According to their website this publication seeks to achieve these objectives:

  • to serve as an introduction to the world of archives 
  • to act as a source of information that will encourage exploration and enquiry 
  • to be a persuasive advocacy document highlighting the importance of the archives and records management sector. The publication is both informative and visually attractive, filled with thought- provoking commentary and stunning images.
The brochure includes examples of business archives and why they matter.  It discusses company heritage with Lloyds Banking Group, technical records with the Ballast Trust and using archives for marketing with Diageo.

Its a great brochure, full of lovely pictures, quotes and examples and is full of inspiration about how to use archives and make them work for you.


Thomas Cook celebrates 170 years

Saturday, 27 August 2011

with this great infographic:

A History of British Holidaymaking in Numbers brought to you by Thomas Cook holidays

Rather nicely, they also provided the html code for the infographic to allow other people to embed the image on their website which is what I've done here.  I found it via this site which notes that the facts and information came from their in-house archivist.


Managing a Small Repository

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

The Religious Archives Group Conference theme this year is “On a Wing and a Prayer”: Managing the Small Repository.

Looking at the programme there are some similarities in the issues faced by religious archive with those owners of small business archives face.  The conference seeks to

address the needs of those running small repositories and, in the present economic climate, will, we feel, strike a chord with many. There will be presentations on what can be done to preserve materials on a tight budget and another on inventive ways of promoting your collections.
For those working with small business archives, it might be worth enquiring if you can attend and go along on the 27th September to see what lessons can be learned from our colleagues in the religious archives group.


Lyle & Scott 'Archive Exchange'

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

On Saturday 28th August Lyle & Scott are are hosting the ‘Archive Exchange’ at the Beanscene in Hawick.

Lyle & Scott was founded in Hawick in 1874 and is immensely proud of its roots in the Scottish Borders. You can clearly see the influence of archive and heritage designs in the company's vintage, heritage and archive range of clothing collections
This is an event to kick-start our campaign to restore the company’s archives. We are on the lookout for any vintage Lyle & Scott memorabilia you may have – garments, historical documents, photographs or cuttings from newspapers – and asking you to bring them along to be photographed for our record. To say thank you we are offering a brand new Lyle & Scott item in exchange!  So please come along and share you stories over a cup of tea.
For more information about the event please contact or 0207 467 7519

You should also check out their blog for a post about branding their vintage collection, it describes the process of researching the brand and its yellow eagle logo using the archive collection here in Scotland.


Old Shops of Stornoway

Tomorrow evening (Thursday 11th August) there is a joint event being held in Stornoway by Tasglann Nan Eilean Siar (Hebridean Archives) and the Stornoway Historical Society about old shops and businesses in Stornoway.


Pringle Archive Exhibition

Friday, 5 August 2011

Good news for those of you in Edinburgh during the festival this month. The Pringle Archive Project 1815-2011 is appearing as an exhibition at Harvey Nichols, St Andrew Square, from August 3 to 24.

Gordon Drummond, director of Harvey Nichols Edinburgh, says:

We are delighted to be showcasing the rich history of one of Scotland's most iconic brands and to highlight the importance of the Scottish textile industry and its contribution to international fashion.

For details, call 0131-524 8388 or read about it here, here and here.


New Case Study Plans

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

After the great selection of case studies we put together for the launch in January, we'd like to do more!  We are planning to produce some more of these in the Autumn and would like to know if there are any stories out there of business archives in Scotland that you think should be told or would like to find out about particular companies and sectors.

We're open to suggestions and will do our best to put together a selection as interesting and diverse as the last bunch.

Scottish Business Archive Case Study
Please leave us a comment below or email me with suggestions and thoughts.


New blog

Sunday, 24 July 2011

I spotted a new blog today called Taking Account of our Past and it will document the process of cataloguing accountancy papers.

From the blog:

The Taking Account of our Past project is based at Wolverhampton Archives and Local Studies and its purpose is to catalogue the collection of Smith, Son and Wilkie, a chartered accountancy firm who were based in the city. This project has been funded by a grant from the National Cataloguing Grants Programme for Archives, which is administrated by The National Archives. The grant of £36,000 has enabled the service to appoint Kimberley Benoy as a cataloguing archivist to work exclusively on this 18 month project.


Business History Matters: The Modern Corporate Archive

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Interesting post from the Business History Matters people about the importance of a corporate archive in today's business climate. In particular the fact that

an archives’ relevance to larger business goals is crucial. Companies should
make sure that users’ needs are met, and that the content derived from archival
materials serves marketing and communications objectives, with mechanisms in
place to support continuous improvement and/or expansion.
Read more about The Modern Corporate Archive


Major business accessions to repositories in 2010

The National Archives has published the results of its 2010 annual 'Accessions to Repositories' survey.

In this survey, the National Archives collects information from over two hundred record repositories throughout the British Isles about manuscript accessions received in the previous twelve months.

There is a business category for the results, the results of which can be seen here.  Some of the highlights in Scotland include:

  • Joseph Brown, stonemason, Banff: working papers, incl specifications for projects in Banffshire and Nairn 20th cent (DD1485) - Aberdeen City Archives
  • Craigenlow Quarries Ltd, Dunecht: minute books, slides and films 1946-1979 (Acc 477) - Aberdeen University, Special Libraries and Archives
  • Matthew Wright & Nephew Ltd, timber merchants, Irvine: ledgers and cash books 1854-1912 (10/45) - Ayrshire Archives
  • Weir Group plc, pump manufacturers: records from Alloa works incl predecessor companies 1900-1986 (PD 253) - Clackmannanshire Archives
  • Uniroyal Ltd (formerly North British Rubber Co Ltd), rubber goods and chemical manufacturers, Newbridge: minutes, share, financial and staff records, etc 1856-1986 (GGD701) - Dumfries and Galloway Archives
  • James MacLaren & Sons, architects and surveyors, Dundee: architectural drawings 1862-1896 - Dundee City Archives
  • Don Brothers, Buist & Co Ltd, jute and flax spinners and manufacturers, Dundee: Buist family personal and business papers c1806-1945 (2010/398) - Dundee University Archive, Records Management and Museum Services
  • Edinburgh and Leith Master Plumbers' Association: records 1911-1970 (Acc 831) - Edinburgh City Archives
  • Christian Salvesen Ltd, transport and logistics company, Leith: diaries of Dr IM Macintosh when with the company 1956-1962 (E2010.32) - Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections
  • Falkirk & Larbert Water Trust: letter books, accounts, meter survey books 1890-1970 (A1263) - Falkirk Council Archives
  • McLay, McAllister & McGibbon, chartered accountants, Glasgow: additional ledgers and cash books 1899-1976 (ACCN 3436) - Glasgow University Archive Servives
  • William Wilson & Son, tartan manufacturers, Bannockburn: tartan pattern book c1830 (GH) - Heriot-Watt University Archive, Records Management and Museum Service
  • Highland Railway Co: records c1890-1970 (D1212) - Highland Council Archives
  • James Fleming, general drapers, Blairgowrie: records c1920-1953 (10/38) - Perth and Kinross Council Archive
  • John Baxter (Chemists) Ltd, Cambuslang: records c1920-1989 (Accession 1146) - Strathclyde University Archives


Darien Scheme Exhibition

Friday, 8 July 2011

The National Library of Scotland and the Royal Bank of Scotland have engaged in a joint venture to create an exhibition of their material relating to the Darien Scheme. It celebrates the inclusion in 2010 of the archives of 'The Company of Scotland Trading to Africa and the Indies' in UNESCO's UK Memory of the World register.
The result of this is an exhibition 'The key of the universe': Scotland and Darien, 1695-1707 which will run from 1 July to 31 August at the National Library of Scotland.

To mark the exhibition opening there was an article in The Scotsman on Wednesday 6th with RBS Archivist Laura Yeoman.


The Edible Archive

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

The Scottish Council on Archives is appearing on Radio Scotland today on the Kitchen Cafe show to discuss the Edible Archive project.

This project is part of the Archives Awareness campaign for 2011 and the SCA "is inviting archives and members of the public across Scotland to contribute recipes from their collections and personal cookbooks. Your contributions will be included in an archival cookbook, The Edible Archive."

So far contributions include examples from business archives in images like this one from the Jackson Elphick & Co. Ltd company who were actually bathfounders, enamellers and sanitary engineers.  But this image of a kitchen range was found in a trade catalogue in their collection held by Glasgow University Archive Services.

Image courtesy of University of Glasgow Archive Services
from Jackson, Elphick & Co Ltd Collection, GB 0248 UGD 122/3/1/10
taken from here


Nestlé opens archives facility in York

Monday, 4 July 2011

This weekend Nestlé opened  a new archives facility in York.  Paul Grimwood, Nestlé UK chief executive and chairman said "the archive demonstrated how serious Nestlé UK was about preserving and promoting its history in the UK."

Full details about the archive are available in this news article in the Yorkshire Press.
A tin of Rowntree chocolates sent to soldiers in the Boer War
{image from here}


Co-operative plans for anniversary

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

In 2013, the co-operative will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the CWS - the Co-operative Wholesale Society.  A new business history of the group is planned for publication then and a team has been put together to research the company

There is more information in a leaflet here.


Cork Business Archives

Friday, 17 June 2011

Cork City and County Archives have a new online exhibition that "explores the commercial heritage of Cork through its historical archives."

The exhibition is called Cork: Merchant City and features a variety of items from different collections within the archive including examples from shipping, brewing, provisions, distilling and retail industries.

There's also a great article in the Irish Times about the family dynasties behind many of the businesses.

Thanks to ArchivesIreland on twitter for this infomation.


Scott's Men

Thursday, 16 June 2011

The Scotts' Exhibition at the McLean Museum starts on Saturday 25th June until 10th September 2011.  The exhibition marks the 300th anniversary of Scotts' of Greenock.

Download a poster here.


STICK: BP's Shale Oil Archive Returns Home to West Lothia...

Friday, 10 June 2011

From the STICK blog: BP's Shale Oil Archive Returns Home to West Lothia...: "Today is an exciting day at the Museum of the Scottish Shale Oil Industry in Livingston as we have just taken delivery of the first batch of Scottish Shale Oil Industry records which have been transferred on long term loan from the BP Archive..."


More Scottish business archives join the UNESCO Register

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

The National Library of Scotland has had its John Murray Archive selected by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)  as one of the 2011 additions into the UK Memory of the World Register.

Martyn Wade, National Librarian and Chief Executive Officer of the National Library of Scotland, said: "To have been included in the register last year was thrilling. To have been included again so soon is recognition of depth and quality of our archives here in Edinburgh. It is especially pleasing that the John Murray Archive has been selected for the register following our recent acquisition of the collection and our commitment to make it accessible to the nation."
Other Scottish inclusions are the Bank of Scotland Archives and The customer account ledgers of Edward Backwell, 1663-1672 at the Royal Bank of Scotland Archives.  The ledgers are the earliest systematic set of banking records to survive in the United Kingdom.

Information about the other collections that have been added is availble here and include several business related collections:


Pringle's Day of Record

Monday, 23 May 2011

A feature article in today's Telegraph reports on the Day of Record event that Pringle held in Hawick in August last year.  Following on from the event a 12-piece archive collection was created by the MA students at Central Saint Martins in conjunction with the specialised knitwear craftspeople in Hawick.

The project was designed to:

Flesh out Pringle's practically non-existent archive and create a collection off the back of its findings. 'When I first arrived at the company and visited the factory, I asked about the archive and people laughed,' explains Benoit Duverger, Pringle's managing director, who started at the company a year after the brand ceased manufacturing in Hawick in 2008. 'I was shown a room with a couple of boxes stuffed with jumpers. That was all that was left after a flood in 2005 swept everything away. Hopefully today will give us back what the flood took.'
'We nearly did get to a point where we forgot who we were, what we'd achieved and our innovations,' Duverger says. 'Rediscovering our archive will put us in touch with our history. It is fantastic meeting people who had first-hand working knowledge of designing or working in our factories. They're able to explain techniques we haven't used for decades so that we can bring them back.'
Read more about it here on the official website.  Other articles about this project have appeared in Vogue (July 2010) and on the Central Saint Martins' blog (May 2011).  There is also an interview with Prof Louise Wilson here.


Stoddard-Templeton Archive Open Day

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

University of Glasgow Archive Services is hosting an open afternoon for the Stoddard-Templeton Archive on Friday 20th May, between 2 and 4pm.

The Archive combines the design and corporate records of James Templeton & Co Ltd and Stoddard International plc, two of Scotland's leading carpet designers and manufacturers.

{design for glasgow cathedral carpet from the blog}
This event is designed to highlight the potential of the Archive for research and teaching, and is aimed at academic staff, postgraduate students and heritage professionals. This will be an informal event, with items from the Archive on display and short presentations throughout the afternoon. Full details are available in this flyer.

Please contact Claire Paterson to book a place, or drop in during the afternoon.


125 years of Coca-Cola

Monday, 9 May 2011

To mark its 125th anniversary Coca-Cola is planning a summer of celebrations with commemorative packaging, advertisements and promotions (more details in the press release)

{Image from here}
For this celebration they have created several different online sites, from a live online 'thank-you' that linked to facebook, twitter and youtube to a virtual walk through of their 125 year history and archives at the very best of coca-cola where they have selected the 125 most important items from their collections to show people and are also hoping to gather stories and memories of Coca-Cola from users.

As a brand it makes great use of its business archive and this a great example of what a huge organisation can do to celebrate its heritage.  Their archive team also have a long-running blog called Coco-Cola Conversations which is worth checking out.


Social Enterprise, Victorian-style

Monday, 18 April 2011

One of the surprises of the 100-Oldest Companies project was discovering that many Scottish companies were initially started to bring benefit to the local community.

Of the 100-Oldest, the Corstorphine Public Hall and Cupar Corn Exchange Companies were both set-up to build and then manage their titular facilities for the public good, addressing important needs in their respective localities. Many of the subscribers were local men and women (though some of the shareholders in Cupar were members of the landed gentry), and neither company sort to make any profit from their investment.

Of the other companies still surviving, The Dean Grounds Association raised money for tennis lawns, which it then handed to the Dean Tennis Club, and the previously mentioned Leith Cemetery Company provided a much needed service (at affordable prices) to the people of Leith.

Although we may think of companies as a means to maximise profit, this sort of publically spirited enterprise actually pre-dates many larger, money-making businesses incorporating themselves: most large firms regarded limited liability companies with suspicion until the 1890s and 1900s. Perhaps when current politicians talk of the need for social enterprise and community investment, they could do worse than look to the past for examples of success.

Photo of the Cupar Corn Exchange tower, taken from wikipedia. The owner is user:kilburn


Diary of events

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

The Managing Business Archives website now has a diary of events related to business archives and business history across the UK and wider world.


Managing Business Archives website

Monday, 21 March 2011

I've mentioned the Managing Business Archives website before here which is a great resource containing detailed advice for caring for business archives and a great selection of case studies.

I'm pleased to say that there is now a link to the Scottish strategy in their links and news sections and in time we hope to add our case studies to the website.


TNA podcasts on Business History

Thursday, 17 March 2011

The National Archives (TNA) has a very successful series of podcasts which contains some useful talks related to business archives and history.  Some examples include:

This looks to be something that will be developed and added to in the future as the Business Archive Advice Manager has mentioned here.


Survey Work for the 'Scotland's 100-oldest Companies Project'

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Two very different companies allowed me access to their records within the last week for the 100-oldest Companies project.

The first was the Edinburgh Crematorium Limited, who allowed me to survey the surviving records of the Leith Cemetery and Cremation Company. These records consist of a small, but perfectly formed, collection going back to the company's foundation in 1887.

Though the business is not well-known outside of Leith, its story is an interesting one of local people addressing a local need for a cemetery, which they then ran until increasing overheads prompted the sale to Edinburgh Crematorium in the 1960s. You can find more in my entry on the project wiki here. I looked through the records on site in the peaceful surroundings of the Lodge at the entrance to Seafield Cemetery in Leith.

The second was KPMG, who gave me access to the records of a company formed at much the same time, the Quays group. Interestingly the company started life as the Cathcart Cemetery Company, though by 1910 they had become Alexander Holdings, the holding company of the first Ford Motors sales dealership in Edinburgh. In 2000 it became Quays Group, a property investment company operating in Poole, until it went into administration in 2004.

Sadly, unlike at Seafield Cemetery, there was little of historic value left in the Iron Mountain store where KPMG, as company administrators, hold the records. There is more detail on the project entry.

However it was interesting to compare and contrast what survived from two companies that started with very similar aims, yet whose paths took markedly different turns down the road.

(Photo of Seafield Cemetery sourced from here)


Photography Collections of Financial Companies

With thanks to Carmen Hofmann for this information via ARCHIVES-NRA:

The European Association for Banking and Financial History (EABH) is calling for papers to be presented at the workshop: Photography Collections of (Financial) Companies - A Corporate Historical View to be held at ING, Amsterdam on Thursday 19 May 2011

The objective of the workshop is to learn more about the existence, importance and use of corporate photography collections in (financial) organizations for a broader public.

The widespread use of photography by companies led to the development of often extensive corporate photography collections, many of which were kept in relative obscurity in a company’s historical archives. The aim of the workshop is to put these corporate photography collections in the spotlight, with a focus on photography at financial companies. Where are these collections? How are they preserved and managed? Who knows about them? How are they used? How can we see these collections?

The program committee encourages the submission of papers with specific emphasis on the following areas:

  • Corporate photography collections in financial institutions
  • Corporate photography collections in museums and public archives
  • Use of corporate photography collections at exhibitions and in publications

The program committee will consider papers dealing with the topics mentioned above. The aim of the workshop is to encourage creative thinking and debate among the participants. As such, the program committee is especially interested in presentations that contain not only a theoretical aspect, but which in addition actively engage the audience in observation and discussion.

Archivists, curators, researchers, scholars, photographers or corporate-designers, interested in presenting a paper or outlining their field of work in relation to the topic, should send an abstract (of approx. 500 words) to: by Friday 11 March 2011.


BAC cataloguing grant

Friday, 25 February 2011

With thanks to Moira Lovegrove for posting the following information to Archives-NRA listserv:

In support of the National Strategy for Business Archives, the Business Archives Council (BAC) is delighted to announce that it is once again offering a 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
We envisage that the £2000 grant will be used over the equivalent of a 4-week period to fund an archive intern or temporary staff member (under professional supervision) to catalogue a discrete collection of business records. This can either be a detailed catalogue of a small collection or a top-level catalogue of a more substantial collection. Grant recipients should provide the BAC with an article for its newsletter, and the catalogue should be made available to the National Register of Archives (published by The National Archives). Any questions about the grant should be addressed to Karen Sampson, Honorary Secretary of the Business Archives Council, at or on 020 7860 5762

For more information – criteria and application form – see the BAC’s website

The deadline for applications is 30th June 2011.


Case study: G L Watson & Co. - investing in your brand and archives

Thursday, 24 February 2011

G.L. Watson & Co. was established in Glasgow in 1873 as the first dedicated yacht design office in the world. The firm has a long history which the archive supports with unique material on the evolution of yacht design, the America’s Cup, many famous yachts, their Owners, Crew and Builders. Noting the importance of the collection the company committed to its conservation and cataloguing.

(click image to enlarge)
The case study describes what a key resource the archive is for the company and why they have invested in it making it possible to house the entire archive within the firm’s Liverpool offices in an accessible manner.

The full case study is available here and there others can be found here.


Case study: Capturing the Energy- future-proofing industry

Monday, 21 February 2011

The Capturing the Energy project was established to promote wider recognition of the technical and cultural importance of the offshore oil and gas industry to the UK.

It has been a partnership project between business and Aberdeen University to create a permanent base at the University for documents and artefacts dating back over the 50 years since the industry was founded.

(click image to enlarge)
The case study concentrates on the early work between Total E&P and the University of Aberdeen to ensure the survival of records relating to the Total-operated Frigg Gas field, which straddled the UK-Norway median line and supplied up to a third of the UK's gas; the field ceased production in 2004 after 27 years. The project then grew in scope to try to capture the broader history of the UK offshore oil and gas industry.

The full case study is available here and the others can be found here.


Case study: RCAHMS - creative use, interpretation and community engagement

Friday, 18 February 2011

The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS) is one of Scotland’s National Collections and is responsible for information and archives about the built heritage of the nation.

It has an archive which preserves the accumulated results of 100 years of surveying, recording and interpreting the built heritage of Scotland. This collection is made up of 14.5 million items, including photographs, maps, drawings and documents, it provides a vivid and fascinating picture of the human influence on Scotland’s Places from earliest times to the present day.

(click image to enlarge)

The case study focuses on the project to catalogue the archive of the architect Sir Basil Spence which was gifted to the RCAHMS and spans his complete working life. Through the Sir Basil Spence Archive Project, it has been possible to reassess the work of Spence and to demonstrate the potential of architectural collections to encourage people of all ages to appreciate and explore their heritage.

The full case study is available here and the others can be found here.


Business connections: Aberdeen Maritime Museum receives funding from Mae...

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

The Aberdeen Maritime Museum has received £90,000 of funding from Maersk Oil to help with the refurbishment of its education suite.

Maersk Oil wants to leave a lasting legacy in the Granite City and believes the museum offers a unique opportunity for people to discover more about the industry which is playing such an important role in shaping its history.
Other areas of the Museum have also benefitted from funds raised through connections with business - the Energy Exploration Galleries are being renewed after Oil & Gas UK members raised the minimum £360,000 required for the project.

Full story here.


Case study: Lloyds Banking Group - identity and engagement

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Lloyds Banking Group has an extensive archive, which comprises some 6 km of records, stored at state of the art repositories in Edinburgh and London.

The bank's archive includes records of several well-known Scottish brands, including Bank of Scotland and Scottish Widows. For the bank, the archive is a hugely rich resource, which it seeks to make use of in support of the business.

(click image to enlarge)

In the past, materials from the archive have been used to support milestone events such as company anniversaries. They are also regularly used at colleague training and orientation events, to inform and inspire staff with the history and heritage of the company.
The full case study is available here and the other case studies can be found here.


'Oldest Companies' Progress

Monday, 14 February 2011

The Scotland's 100 oldest companies project has passed the halfway mark as the fiftieth entry was posted up today on the project wiki. While the BACS Surveying Officer may pretend that it's been a solitary slog at the coal face, in actual fact the response from business, record-holders and interested researchers has been very enthusiastic. Thanks to everyone who has helped, a large 'thank you' page is being prepared on the wiki even now.

However while progress has been generally good, I have been unable to unearth anything on three companies. If anyone knows anything about The Scottish National Glass and Glazing Company Limited (SC001047, incorporated in 1881), Scottish Property Investment (SC001597 incorporated in 1887) or Spanish Real Property (SC000683, incorporated in 1876) please get in touch, either via here or the blog. Thanks.
(Photo is sourced from here)


Morton Young & Borland Textiles

The Independent has an article today (and the Scotsman also featured this story over the weekend here) about how the firm of Morton Young & Borland Textiles based in Newmilns, Ayrshire has been involved in supplying authentic period fabrics for the TV series Boardwalk Empire.

The company records are held privately but have been surveyed and the details of them are available on the National Register of Archives for Scotland website here.

**Update** Much better pictures here.


Case study: Scottish Business Archive - Supporting Business to Secure its Heritage

Saturday, 12 February 2011

The Scottish Business Archive at the University of Glasgow is one of the largest collections of business records world wide, and represents the business interests of Scotland from the eighteenth century to the present. The collections reflect the contribution and breadth of activity that Scotland’s business, industry and enterprise has made, and continues to make, to the world economy.

(click image to enlarge)

The Scottish Business Archive offers services to the Scottish business community, providing a corporate archive service. It works closely with the Business Archives Council of Scotland to offer advice and support to business on the management of information resources, and provide an off-site archive management service for heritage resources. This service offers business an alternative option for the professional management of its archives which minimises investment in property and staff.

By depositing their archives with the Scottish Business Archive, businesses are contributing to the nation’s heritage and cultural assets. Whilst it is rooted in the industrial concerns of the west of Scotland such as shipbuilding, railway locomotive manufacture, and textiles the Scottish Business Archive has grown to cover almost all types of business and industrial activity in Scotland and the UK. The 400 collections represent 1,000 companies, from banking, confectioners and distillers to retail, solicitors and undertakers.

The full case study is available here and there are a range of others here.


Solicitors' business records

Thursday, 10 February 2011

The Law Society has produced very useful guidance entitled depositing records and documents with public sector archives.

It is aimed at solicitors, office managers or personnel responsible for case files or storage of solicitors' files and records and hopes to:

reverse the trend of the destruction or sale of these historically significant legal documents and solicitors are encouraged to consider alternative options for their redundant items. This practice note provides advice on depositing old client documents or early records about your firm with the appropriate local authority record office.


Case study: Diageo - Brand Passion and Integrity

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

The Diageo Archive holds records relating to more than 1500 brands past and present, from those long established such as Johnnie Walker Scotch Whisky, Smirnoff Vodka and Tanqueray Gin to more recent innovative brands such as Baileys Irish Cream. The collections span 402 years of history with brands such as Bushmills Irish Whiskey having heritage and history dating back to 1608 and they tell the rich histories of these brands as well as our distillery sites, companies and people. From 18th century ledgers to the most recent annual reports, the archive materials authenticate and add texture to these rich histories.

The case study postcard featured an image of Johnnie Walker taken from original 1908/09 advertising campaigns  and used as part of the launch of Johnnie Walker Blue Label King George V in Madrid in 2008.

(click image to enlarge)

The case study demonstrates how with access to original source material, the Archive team can use their knowledge, passion and commitment to verify brand information and discover new brand truths giving sales and marketing teams a unique insight into the brand to support launches, celebrations and PR events by displaying and presenting materials from the Archive.

The full case study is available here and the other case studies here.


Case study: Tennent's - Celebrating and Marketing Your Heritage

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Tennent's lager has been made in Glasgow since 1885 and Tennent’s has a long and proud heritage which has been preserved in its business archive collection.

Since the 1980s Tennent’s have contracted out the storage and management of its archive, first to the Scottish Brewing Archive and more recently to the University of Glasgow Archive Service (which took on the management of all collections previously managed by the Scottish Brewing Archive). Through this arrangement, the University of Glasgow ensures the preservation of the archive in its archival repository and provides enquiry services for both Tennent’s staff and external researchers. In this way Tennent’s ensures the professional management of its heritage assets, utilises the archive to support its current business activities, and provides a research resource for the public.  Details about the collection can be found here.

The postcard created for the launch feature an image of Hugh Tennent taken from the advertising material.

(click image to enlarge)

The case study discusses how the fantastic and true tale of the brand’s heritage and entrepreneurial young founder, Hugh Tennent, was celebrated by the brand throughout 2010 in a major national advertising campaign.  Hugh’s innovative vision not only gave birth to Tennent’s Lager and new techniques for brewing in Scotland, but influenced a 125 year history of the brands creative and innovative advertising and sponsorships.

The full case study is available here and the other case studies here.


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)