Collecting in a Crisis: A Guide to Rescuing Business Records Webinar


The Scottish economy is officially in recession. Previous crises – whether it be the long decline of the manufacturing industry or the sudden financial crash of 2007/08 – have resulted in the disappearance of many household names and the devastation of whole sectors of the economy. During these periods, large volumes of business records were rescued by public repositories but many more were lost or destroyed. Those records that were saved provide an invaluable insight into the social and economic activity of a country and its people. From salary books to director’s minutes, advertisements to ledgers, these records are indispensable to the work of business and social historians, genealogists and local historians.

With the furlough scheme coming to end on October 31 – and Brexit due two months later – the archive community faces a potential new wave of crisis management cases where the records of historic or culturally significant businesses are at risk of loss or destruction. In this webinar, participants will hear from a diverse range of speakers about their experiences of working with records-at-risk and business records in general, the challenges they faced, and the lessons that can be learned.

The webinar also marks the publication of new guidance supported by the Scottish Council on Archives and the Business Archives Council of Scotland, titled Collecting in a Crisis: A Guide to Rescuing Business Records.  The guidance offers an overview of the circumstances in which records can be put at risk of loss or destruction and provides a step-by-step guide to dealing with a crisis management case, advice on how to prepare collecting priorities, and a list of useful resources and organisations that can provide advice and assistance to recordkeepers engaged in rescuing business records.


13:30 John Pelan, Director, SCA. Welcome and introduction
13:35-13:45 Dr Chris Cassells, Business Archives Surveying Officer. Chris will introduce Collecting in a Crisis: A Guide to Rescuing Business Records and discuss the challenges around collecting business records in these extraordinary times.
13:45-14:00 Wiebke McGhee, Archivist, North Lanarkshire Council. 180 Years of Thrift: The Airdrie Savings Bank Archives

Wiebke will present a case study of the process and challenges involved in rescuing the records of Airdrie Savings Bank, Britain’s last remaining independent savings bank until its closure in 2017.

14:00-14:15 Dr Kirsten Kininmonth, Senior Lecturer, Adam Smith Business School. Kirsten will discuss the importance of business records to business and accounting historians, with reference to her work on the records of Paisley thread manufacturer, J&P Coats Ltd.
14:15-14:30 Frits van Kempen, Director, Thomas Miller. Frits will talk about his role in the liquidation of the Buckie based Scottish Boatowners Mutual Insurance Association, sharing his perspective from the legal and financial world on how archivists can most effectively intervene to ensure the preservation of historic business records.
14:30 Close

Registration: Please complete this very short form to register; joining instructions for Zoom will be sent to participants in advance of the event.