The Business History Community

Business history preserves the material culture of corporations and tells the story of American business history as well as community history. This AASLH community is designed for professionals within corporations or corporate museums who collect and interpret history or use history to market corporations, and provides a forum for networking and professional development.

The Business History Affinity Community is tailor-made to facilitate networking among professionals who run corporate history programs.

Through affinity luncheons, sessions at the Annual Meeting, tours of museums and archives that contain business history collections, the Business History Affinity Group works to articulate the value of business history, address public perceptions about funding, and provide a forum for networking and professional development.

Professionals affiliated with the business history community:

  • use a business’ past to talk about its future, or the role the company has played in community development;
  • interpret business and corporate history to further the public’s understanding of science, technology and/or the company’s field;
  • work in a corporate or business museum, archive or visitor center;
  • help a corporation decide whether or not to invest in a business history program;
  • work for a history institution that is owned and/or managed by a business.

The Business History Affinity Community is led by the following committee:

Patrick Wittwer, Chair (2018-2020)
Wells Fargo History Museum, Philadelphia, PA

Sarah Lund-Goldstein, Immediate Past Chair (2013-2018)
Contract Archivist, Kent, OH

Nick Graves (2015-2019)
Walmart Heritage Group, Bentonville, AR

Bailey Mazik (2018-2020)
Louisville Slugger Museum, Louisville, KY

Cindy Olsen (2015-2019)
Little Caesar’s Enterprises, Detroit, MI

Madison Sevilla (2017-2019)
Buffalo Trace Distillery, Frankfort, KY

AASLH Staff Contact
John Marks

Keep up with business history blogs on the AASLH blog.

Looking for more? Browse business history resources in the AASLH Resource Center.

Sign up for our listserv.

Stay tuned for information on joining our community!

Corporate History

Corporations, local and national, have played a major role in American society. The story of enterprise is important to a full understanding of the history of politics, society and culture in America.

Statement of Practice

The American Association for State and Local History is a membership association comprising individuals, agencies, and organizations acting in the public trust, engaged in the practice of history, and representing a variety of disciplines and professions. The Association expects its members to abide by the ethical and professional standards adopted by appropriate discipline-based and professional organizations.

This statement of practices is designed to be a standard for the professional practice of collecting, preserving, and interpreting the history of America’s corporate past by American businesses. It is essential for corporate employees to understand that there are specific business benefits to a collections program, and that the collection of historical and archival materials is an active ongoing process designed to assist corporate planning and growth.

Corporate archives and museums exist and are important because they:

  • Contribute to an understanding of both the specific firm and the history of the local community
  • Contribute to a broader understanding of American social history
  • Contribute to a greater understanding of the history of the American family
  • Provide a tool for management training
  • Provide valuable public relations and advertising material
  • Preserve an institutional memory that serves corporate planning purposes
  • Provide an accurate legal record and resource for the corporation itself

It is important that corporations commit to making the preservation of their institutional history a priority, not only for their business interests, but also as an act of the public trust for the communities in which they reside and that they serve.

The following are recommended for the success of a corporate archive or museum program:

  • Adequate, continuing financial support to meet the challenge of caring for the historical memory of the institution in perpetuity, including resources for maintenance and growth
  • Secure, sound storage facilities where the care, conservation, and management of the company’s document and artifact collections are a top priority. Since historical collections are the bedrock upon which the practice of history rests, corporation should always act to preserve the physical and intellectual integrity of their collections
  • Sufficient, adequate staff who are professionally trained to acquire, care for, interpret or make available for interpretation the documents and artifacts of the corporation
  • Interpretation which is based on sound historical scholarship and accurately reflects the facts as they have been documented
  • Adequate planning and balanced program administration, which make historical records accessible for use by researchers, academics, and/or the public