1959 to 1976: Phase one


The initial meetings to discuss the establishment of BACS were held in 1959 and organised by Peter Payne the Colquhoun Lecturer as Acting Secretary.


The first newsletter of the Council is published.


Studies in Scottish Business History was published.


The National Register of Archives for Scotland appoints a series of regional surveyors – the first being Michael Moss as the Western Surveyor based in Glasgow. Within a year Michael was heavily involved in the rescue of the records of the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders.

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1977 to 2009: Phase two


By 1977 the work of the Council was such that a full-time Surveying Officer was appointed.


The Council started to publish a journal in 1977, known as Scottish Industrial History and today as Scottish Business and Industrial History.


The Scottish Brewing Archive was created in 1982 to provide a historical resource for the brewing industry in Scotland. The collections are now held by the University of Glasgow’s Archives & Special Collections. [Image: ‘Punch’ the dray horse at Holyrood Brewery, in 1871. Ref: WY14/1/4/3]

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The Ballast Trust was established by Dr. William Lind who was also BACS Secretary in 1988 to support the appraisal and cataloguing of technical records.

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In 1990, BACS celebrated its 30th anniversary. In our journal that year Michael Moss reflected on twenty years of business archives.

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A publicity leaflet for BACS from the 1990s.


In 2001, At the Fourth Annual Joan Auld Memorial Lecture, organised by the BACS George MacKenzie, Keeper of the Records of Scotland, launched the first draft of Elements for a National Policy on Business Archives for Scotland.

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In 2006, the Capturing the Energy (CtE) project was launched as an innovative initiative which sought to document the UK oil and gas industry. BACS was an early partner in the project along with the oil and gas operators, University of Aberdeen, government agencies and those with an interest in the history of north sea oil and gas.

2010 to present: Phase three










In 2010 a National Strategy for Business Archives in Scotland was developed by David Powell, BACS Surveying Officer and Kiara King, Ballast Trust Archivist.

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The Hundred Oldest Scottish Companies Project – in 2011 the BACS Surveying Officer started a project to map out the existing records of the hundred oldest Scottish Companies still registered with Company House, making them more accessible to business and the wider public.

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The National Strategy Implementation Group received a grant from the Archives and Records Association to undertake a Data Mapping Project in Scotland. The project aimed to create a single consistent and clarified dataset for business archive collections in Scotland that would provide improved and flexible information for creators, custodians and users of business archives.


The second year of the National Strategy saw the completion of the Data Mapping project and 6,122 collections identified and a training day on technical records held by BACS as part of their annual conference and AGM.


BACS starts an annual ‘Meet the Archivists’ workshop aimed to encourage researchers to make the most of Business Archives by bringing together academics and archivists to discuss and explore with students how business archive collections can be used for their research.


The Working Archive was a year-long archive awareness campaign for Scotland championed by the Scottish Council on Archives, to support the National Strategy for Business Archives in Scotland. The campaign ran throughout 2013 and aimed to encourage archives, their users and the public at large to celebrate the unique stories behind individual Scottish businesses; the records of products that were produced or manufactured in Scotland and exported around the world; and the archival legacy of working Scots of all kinds – whether in business, farming, healthcare, education, the church or government.

The Working Archive campaign also celebrated the people behind the records – whether the workers and staff of businesses, the communities within which businesses are based or trade or the archivists and curators who work to preserve these records today.

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The third and final ‘Meet The Archivists‘ workshop focused on the use of business archives for genealogical research with special attention to oral history recordings. As before it brought together academics and archivists to discuss and explore with researchers how business archive collections can be used for their research.






In 2016, the 5 year National Strategy for Business Archives in Scotland came to an end.


BACS starts Corporate Connections an initiative launched in 2017 to encourage face to face conversations, bringing together the small community of business archivists and custodians of business archives in Scotland, many of whom work alone to share our experiences. Regular social meet ups are held every few months, with a rotating theme to kick start conversations and let you meet your peers.


In 2018, BACS collaborated with the Scottish Council on Archives to produce Enterprising Scotland: A Celebration of Scottish Business Archives to highlight the importance and rich variety of business collections across Scotland.

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