Business History

Corporations, local and national, have played a major role in American society. The story of enterprise is important to a full understanding of the history of politics, society and culture in America.

Statement of Practice

The American Association for State and Local History is a membership association comprising individuals, agencies, and organizations acting in the public trust, engaged in the practice of history, and representing a variety of disciplines and professions. The Association expects its members to abide by the ethical and professional standards adopted by appropriate discipline-based and professional organizations.

This statement of practices is designed to be a standard for the professional practice of collecting, preserving, and interpreting the history of America’s corporate past by American businesses. It is essential for corporate employees to understand that there are specific business benefits to a collections program, and that the collection of historical and archival materials is an active ongoing process designed to assist corporate planning and growth.

Business archives and museums exist and are important because they:

  • Contribute to an understanding of both the specific firm and the history of the local community
  • Contribute to a broader understanding of American social history
  • Contribute to a greater understanding of the history of the American family
  • Provide a tool for management training
  • Provide valuable public relations and advertising material
  • Preserve an institutional memory that serves corporate planning purposes
  • Provide an accurate legal record and resource for the corporation itself

It is important that corporations commit to making the preservation of their institutional history a priority, not only for their business interests, but also as an act of the public trust for the communities in which they reside and that they serve.

The following are recommended for the success of a business archive or museum program:

  • Adequate, continuing financial support to meet the challenge of caring for the historical memory of the institution in perpetuity, including resources for maintenance and growth
  • Secure, sound storage facilities where the care, conservation, and management of the company’s document and artifact collections are a top priority. Since historical collections are the bedrock upon which the practice of history rests, corporation should always act to preserve the physical and intellectual integrity of their collections
  • Sufficient, adequate staff who are professionally trained to acquire, care for, interpret or make available for interpretation the documents and artifacts of the corporation
  • Interpretation which is based on sound historical scholarship and accurately reflects the facts as they have been documented
  • Adequate planning and balanced program administration, which make historical records accessible for use by researchers, academics, and/or the public