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Chairman's Statement 2012-2013

Chair’s statement to the 2013 AGM, 7 November 2013

The Business Archives Council and the Strategy for Business Archives

The Council continues to support the promotion of the National Strategy for Business Archives, in association with The National Archives, ARA, and CyMAL, and we continue to manage the strategy website, www.managingbusinessarchives.co.uk, and to provide personnel for the ‘crisis response team’.  Our marketing leaflet raised awareness of the strategy website and promoted our aims more broadly.  I should like to thank Moira Lovegrove and Claire Twinn for their work in this area.

Over the course of the year we lobbied both government departments and businesses on the need to safeguard business archives, pressing the Insolvency Practitioners Association to consider action to safeguard archives affected by liquidation or administration.

We played a full part in the work of the crisis response team, and I should like to thank Richard Wiltshire and Peter Scott for their work in this regard.

Our cataloguing grant for business collections continues to attract high quality applications and remains one of our major initiatives. In 2012-13 the grant was awarded to Durham County Record Office, to catalogue the records of the Consett Iron Company and its subsidiaries. My thanks to Mike Anson, Sara Kinsey and Lorna Williams for acting as judges.

The Architecture, Building and Construction Survey for England & Wales, mounted in collaboration with The National Archives, and led by Annabel Welsh, the Resource Discovery Officer, was nearing completion by the end of 2012/13. Nearly 250 firms were contacted, and although the overall response of the building and construction sectors was rather disappointing, we got good support from architectural firms and collections where available were surveyed and added to the NRA and ARCHON. A final report was in preparation.  

In April 2012 the Council sponsored an outreach event, in collaboration with the Historical Model Railway Society. A Workshop entitled ‘Archives, Artefacts, Amateurs & Academics’ was held at Derby and Butterley, and attended by over 60 people. Further events were planned, under the banner A2SN [Archives and Artefacts Study Network]. Our thanks to Roy Edwards for all his efforts in supporting the initiative and setting up the Network with Keith Harcourt.

Finally, we continued our support of the Business History Explorer: a Bibliography of the History of UK Businesses and Industries, which was published in November 2012, and is available both in print and online. Visit http://businesshistoryexplorer.co.uk/     

Publications

Numbers 104 and 105 of our journal, Business Archives, were published. They were edited by Mariam Yamin, who was joined in the course of the year by a new editor, Stefan Schwarzkopf, from Copenhagen Business School. In number 104 there were articles by Mike Anson, on ‘Insights into an enigma? Discovering Montagu Norman through the Bank of England Archive’; Stacey Capner, on ‘Powering the World: looking at Welsh industry through archives’; Susan Gentles and Hannah Jenkinson, on ‘A Year of  outreach and advocacy at the GNM archive’; and Rachel Spree, on ‘A grand design: HSBC’s new home’. There was also an obituary of Leslie Pressnell, written by John Orbell, and the select bibliography of new publications in 2011, compiled by Mariam Yamin, Hannah Jenkinson and Richard Wiltshire, and edited by Mariam Yamin. The book reviews were edited by Moira Lovegrove.  In number 105 there were articles by Stefan Schwarzkopf, on ‘What is an archive – and where is it? Why business historians need a constructive theory of the archive’; Bernardo Batiz-Lazo on ‘Linking history and management discourse: epistemology and method’; Charlotte Berry and Tim E. Crumplin, on ‘Pastures new: unlocking the heritage collections at the Alfred Gillett Trust (C&J Clark Ltd)’; Bethany Sinclair-Giardini, on ‘Exploring the socio-economic landscape in the north of Ireland from early modern times to the present day’;  and Linda Perriton and Josephine Maltby, on ‘Savings banks in England and Wales in the nineteenth century: a new insight into individual spending and saving’. The journal also contained the 2011 edition of the bibliography in business history, compiled by Richard Hawkins; the list of business records deposited, compiled by Mike Anson; and book reviews, edited by Roy Edwards.  We are extremely grateful to all the editors and contributors for their work.

Once again, four editions of the Newsletter were produced by Alan Gall. Our own website was further enhanced thanks to the oversight of Claire Twinn.  The Members area now contains digitised copies of past journal articles, from the 1960s. My thanks to Alan and Claire.

AGM and Conference 2012

The AGM and Annual Conference were held on 8 November 2012 at ING, 60 London Wall, thanks to the generosity of our hosts, The Baring Archive.  The theme of a most stimulating conference was ‘Born This Way: Business Archives and the Digital Age’.  Attended by over 100 delegates, the conference examined the challenges and opportunities that digital records present for business archivists, record managers and users. After a general discussion on the issues presented by digital records, William Kilbride (Digital Preservation Coalition) spoke on The Digital Preservation Decade: what we knew then, what we know now, and what we wish we had realised earlier’. David Hill (Information and Records Manager at the Bank of England), presented a paper on ‘A records management perspective of born-digital records: RM at the Bank of England’. He was followed by Simon Rooks, the BBC’s Multi-Media Archivist, who spoke on ‘A long and winding path: the journey towards multi-media archiving at the BBC’; Vicky Stretch (Archivist, Network Rail), ‘New access to old stuff: the value of the Network Rail Virtual Archive’; and Clara Harrow (Archivist, The Baring Archive), ‘Risks and Rewards: using digitised sources to open up the world of finance past and present’. Oliver Morley, Chief Executive of The National Archives, gave a paper on ‘Lessons we’ve learned: pragmatic digital records’ and then led a panel discussion on the challenge of digital. The conference was followed by a demonstration by John Orbell of the Business History Explorer.

Our thanks to Judith Wright and Katie Keys for planning and organising such a stimulating day, and to our generous hosts, The Baring Archive.

Wadsworth Prize for Business History 2012

The Council’s Wadsworth Prize for 2012 was awarded to Duncan Campbell-Smith for his book, Masters of the Post: The Authorized History of the Royal Mail, published by Penguin. The prize was presented by your Chairman at a reception held at the Baring Archive, following the conference. Our thanks to Clara Harrow and The Baring Archive for their generous hospitality, to the Wadsworth organizer, Dr Roy Edwards, and to our independent judges - John Marshall, Dr John Quail, and Sara Kinsey.

Bursary 2012

The winner of the 2012 Bursary was Eoin Drea of University College Cork, whose research focusses on continuity and change in Irish banking, 1922-43. The award was presented by your Chairman at the annual conference of the Association of Business Historians in Aston in July 2012.  

My thanks to Peter Scott for organising the bursary judging.

Other Activities

Our contribution to training was maintained. In 2012-13 we ran a training day in conjunction with ARA’s Section for Business Records. This was hosted by the Baring Archive in January 2013, and was attended by over 40 students from University College London, Aberystwyth and Dundee. A further ‘Meet the Archivists’ event was held at the British Postal Museum in November 2012 was attended by 60 students contemplating the use of business records in their academic research. The event was chaired by Mike Anson, and there were presentations by Valerie Johnson and Roy Edwards. I should like to thank all those who made these events such a success.

Vote of thanks

Our thanks to Adam Hillhouse and Josette Reeves for organising today’s conference, and to Judith Wright, Sophie Clapp and the Boots Archive for generously hosting both the AGM and the Conference, here in Nottingham.

Personnel changes

As you may be aware, some changes in the Council’s composition took place over the year. Edwin Green stepped down as treasurer, after an impressive 37 years’ service on the executive, and Moira Lovegrove took his place as Treasurer. I am pleased to report that she has proved a worthy successor. We also took the opportunity to restructure officers’ duties, and Judith Wright became membership secretary, and Claire Twinn the member responsible for the newsletter and website. My thanks to them both for fulfilling these important functions.

May I end by confirming that I shall not be seeking re-election in the election process to follow. I have really enjoyed my time on Council, have made many friends. I also know that I shall be leaving the BAC in good hands.


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