Rescuing Archives

Rescuing Archives

Are you aware of any business archives that are in danger of destruction?  Has an important business near you closed down after many years of trading?  If so, contact the Scottish representative on the Crisis Management Team the Surveying Officer, Chris Cassells Christopher.Cassells@glasgow.ac.uk or Kiara King, Ballast Trust Archivist Kiara.King@glasgow.ac.uk or 01505 328488 and maybe we can help ensure that a legacy is retained.

‌When businesses cease trading, move buildings or are taken over often little thought is given to the value and importance of their historical records.  Often, they are discarded, burnt, or lie forgotten in disused storage areas.  Their secondary value in telling the story of a business and its place in the history of Scotland is often the last thing on peoples minds.

This is where the Business Archives Surveying Officer plays a vital role. They can spend time talking to managers, liquidators and the owners of records to encourage redundant records to be transferred to archive repositories where they may be made accessible to the public.

Ideally, this is a well managed process with time to go into a building ear-marked for closure, make a detailed listing of the records and then make informed choices as to which are worth keeping as archives.  However, sometimes we manage to get only a small window of time in which to quickly grab what records we can before the skips arrive or the wrecking ball lands.

Over the years, the BACS and the Surveying Officer has undertaken a variety of rescue work, often in collaboration with the National Records of Scotland, universities and and local authorities to ensure that important business records are saved for the nation.

Recent rescues have included:

  • Malcolm Fraser, Architects (records with Historic Environment Scotland)
  • McEwens of Perth, department store (records with Perth and Kinross Archives)
  • George Stewart & Co., stationers (records with Edinburgh City Archives)
  • Scottish Legal Life Assurance Society (records with Glasgow City Archives)
  • Esslemont & Mackintosh, department store (records with Aberdeen City Archives)