On this page you can find some useful resources and links covering the following topics:


 Support and advice for businesses, archivists and users

Online resources on business archives

Training material on different types of business records, guides for researchers, advice for businesses, educational resources: 

Financial records: overview of the history of accounting; common types of records and their function; issues of appraisal

Technical records: understanding technical records; describing and using maps and plansmaking technical records more accessible

Corporate Memory: a guide to managing business archives

Guides to researching business history: business records held in the UK; researching records of a business; companies and businesses records; mines and mining records; tracing people in business and trades

Podcasts: new initiatives and developments; finding company archives; case studies: 'The role of the past at Fortnum and Mason' and the 'Roche Historical Collections and Archive' 

Internet for Archives: guide on how to use online resources to find archive or primary sources material for your research

Glossary of business records: some definitions of types of business records, from the Royal Bank of Scotland archive.

Interactive educational resource: discover the world of finance past and present, from the Baring archive.

Using Archives: A Guide for the Inexperienced: guide on how to find and use archives, from the Archives Hub website.

Resources for students

Business records are a valuable resource of information for students and academics doing research in a variety of subjects. To name some: social, financial, business, economic, and business history; architecture; manufacturing; engineering; fashion; marketing.

Where do I start?

First of all you need to find out where the records are and if they are accessible. The best place to start is The National Archives catalogue The National Archives website.

Records of local businesses are often kept at local record offices. You can find their contact details using The National Archives website.

Many companies keep their records and make them available to the public. Check individual company website's for details.

Below you can find a list of useful websites and guides on how to locate business records and how to use them.

Companies House website: to find out information about UK companies, including previous names and if they have been dissolved.

Reading list for those starting out researching a company's history, from the Business Archives Council website.

Guide for researchers using business archive, from Business Archives Council of Scotland.

Guide to key records held by businesses, from the Managing Business Archives website.

Guide to users of business archives, from the Scottish Council on Archives.

Guides to researching business history, from the UK National Archives: business records held in the UK; researching records of a business; companies and businesses records; mines and mining records; tracing people in business and trades.

Internet for Archives: guide on how to use online resources to find archive or primary sources material for your research.

Using Archives: A Guide for the Inexperienced: guide on how to find and use archives, from the Archives Hub website.

Financial records: overview of the history of accounting; common types of records and their function; issues of appraisal. From the Business Archives Council of Scotland website.

There are many associations that are always available for help and advice. See 'Support for businesses, archivists and users' above.

You can also download our leaflet.

Business History websites

Resources for business historians and researchers:

Association of Business Historians

European Association for Banking and Financial History

European Business History Association

Centre for Business History in Scotland

LSE Business History Unit

The Business History Conference

Continuing Professional Development for business archivists

Business Archives and Records module, Centre for Archive and Information Studies, University for Dundee.

Archive Service Accreditation

Archive Service Accreditation is the new UK-wide standard for archive services launched in summer 2013. The scheme, administered by The National Archives (TNA), defines good practice, identifies agreed standards and offers accredited services 'a badge of external recognition and endorsement'.  Archive Service Accreditation replaces TNAs' Standard for Record Repositories and its self-assessment programme for local authority archives in England and Wales.

The Archives and Records Association's Section for Business Records (SBR) sees the new standard as a valuable, inclusive means of measuring good practice across the entire archive community and it recommends that its members should consider applying for accreditation.  The SBR has highlighted five points that services should be aware of if deciding to take part in Archive Service Accreditation:

  1. Suitability: Is the process suitable for my Archive?  Most likely!  The scheme is intentionally inclusive and open to any archive that meets the eligibility criteria.  The assessment process is scalable enabling a wide variety of archive services of differing sizes to apply for accreditation status
  2. Preparation: Being fully prepared for the accreditation process is essential.  Potential applicants need to be aware of what is required for a successful application before embarking on the process.  Archive services should not use the scheme as a driver for developing policies and procedures; these requirements, along with others, should be in place before the accreditation process is embarked upon
  3. Commitment: Participation in the scheme is a large commitment both in terms of time and staffing.  The process generates a fair amount of paperwork, but this is to be expected given the level of detail the standard requires, and potential applicants need to consider the provision of adequate resources to complete the process
  4. Promotion: Achieving accredited status is an excellent way of promoting your Archive, and possibly the institution as a whole, to stakeholders, users and peers.  Whilst an Archive will know that it operates an efficient, well-run service, validation of this by a high-profile external organisation (TNA) is important. As a cross-sector standard, accreditation also enables Archives from different disciplines to directly compare their services
  5. Contacts: Further information and contact details concerning the Archive Service Accreditation scheme can be found on The National Archives website.