The status of business archives within Scotland is stronger than elsewhere in the UK. As a result, Scotland has a wealth of business and business-related archives and expertise held within active business and collecting repositories. Scotland has taken a holistic approach to collecting business archives. Within business collections themselves, the core corporate records are complemented where possible by the accompanying technical records such as plans, drawings, photographs and process information. The appraisal of such records has been time consuming but has left Scotland with rich collections.
Scottish Business Archive
Glasgow University Archive Services is home to the Scottish Business Archive which represents over 700 companies, amounting to over 4 miles of records. This collection encompasses records of almost every business and industrial activity in Scotland. They have the records of bankers, confectioners and distillers, of retailers, solicitors and undertakers. The collection is particularly strong in relation to the industrial concerns of the west of Scotland – shipbuilding, railway locomotive manufacture, textiles and mining and has a worldwide reach.
Corporate archive collections in Scotland are mainly found within the drinks, publishing and banking industries that have professionally staffed archives. Alternatively many active businesses, professional associations and business-related bodies choose to deposit their records into the custody of local record offices or university archives, where they are professionally managed and made accessible to the public and business.
Key corporate archive collections in Scotland include:
- The Royal Bank of Scotland Archives date from the 1660s and contain collections relating to over 300 constituent banks, including records of the Company of Scotland Trading to Africa and the Indies which was one of the first ten collections to be inscribed on the UNESCO UK Memory of the World Register.
- Lloyds Banking Group Archives (Edinburgh) hold extensive records relating to well-known Scottish financial companies such as Bank of Scotland and Scottish Widows. These archives stretch back to 1695 and 1811 respectively. The Group also hold records of many former Scottish banks, including the Union Bank of Scotland and the British Linen Bank. The collections are surprisingly diverse, and include minute books, branch records, photographs, advertisements, staff registers and banknotes.
- John Murray Archive covers 200 years of the publishing company’s history and contains manuscripts, private letters and business papers from authors such as Charles Darwin, Jane Austen and Lord Byron.