Collecting in a Crisis: A Guide to Rescuing Business Records

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 light of these events, the Surveying Officer has put together new guidance, 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.

On 1st October a webinar on the topic was organised and hosted by the Scottish Council of Archives and BACS. The recording of it can be watched here.

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