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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.


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)