Preserving Industry and Commerce – Business Archives Council of Scotland

In this feature article, Amanda Noble, Secretary of the Business Archives Coucil of Scotland, describes the work of the committee and the benefits of membership for business archives across Scotland.


The Business Archives Council of Scotland (BACS) was founded almost 55 years ago in 1960 with the aim of preserving the records of Scottish business and industry. Membership of BACS is eclectic and international. If you are interested in business archives, or if your repository contains business collections or even if you hope to work with business collections in the future BACS can provide support and advice.

Executive Committee

The current BACS executive committee is made of a mix of university, local authority, government and corporate archivists, academics and individuals interested in business archives. We meet quarterly to discuss current events and initiatives impacting on the business archive sector and to plan events for our members. The business archive sector in Scotland and the UK is larger than you might realise and BACS is involved (mostly behind the scenes) in lots of initiatives.

What we do

  • National Strategy for Business Archives Scotland
    For the last few years the main focus of BACS has been to support the National Strategy for Business Archives Scotland. Now in its third year the strategy made recommendations for business archives in the public and private sectors in Scotland. It aims to promote, manage and exploit the archival legacy of Scottish business by:

    1. Raising awareness among businesses of the value of their records.
    2. Increasing the number of corporate sector business archives and of business collections in public sector and other repositories.
    3. Raising the profile of business records with the public…
    4. Raising standards in the care of business archives…

    Two recent examples of how BACS has supported the strategy are outlined below:

    1. The Working Archive
      The Working Archive awareness campaign supports the strategy by exploring the stories behind Scottish working life whilst promoting the vital role that archive and records management professionals play in creating and caring for our national heritage.
    2. Business Archives Day
      In collaboration with the Scottish Council on Archives (SCA) we participated in the very successful Business Archives Day at the Scottish Parliament. Over the day our business archive experts were able to engage with 16 MSPs to encourage their support for future archive initiatives. There was also a display of archive material.

    • Advice and GuidanceThe Business Archives Council of Scotland are specialists in business archives. We support businesses who want to retain their own records and provide advice to those who would like to deposit their records with public archives.

    We work with local archives, museums and libraries to list their business collections, clear identified backlogs and make business archives accessible to users. We also provide training and guidance on dealing with archives to heritage organisations and other interested parties.

    BACS does not hold any records itself but can provide advice to researchers on potential sources that will help their research. One example of this is the recent project to map out the records of the 100 oldest limited liability companies still registered at Companies House, Edinburgh. This useful resource is available online

    • Rescuing Archives
      Records surveyed by BACS

      Records surveyed by BACS

      Since its inception BACS has helped rescue a large number of business collections and has seen them safely transferred to appropriate archive repositories where they can be accessed by the public. Since 2009 we have also been part of the UK wide Crisis Management Team.The team provides co-ordinated support to preserve business records in cases of liquidations, administrations, takeovers and other circumstances where records may be in danger. Last year 66 business/liquidators were contacted resulting in 11 archive deposits including the records of John Stewart and Co. an Edinburgh Stationer.

    • Surveying OfficerDuring 2013 we secured funding for the post of surveying officer. The post has now been filled and Cheryl Brown will start on 13 March 2014. There is lots of work for the surveying office to get on with including survey work, cataloguing and investigations into digital archives. She will also support the Crisis Management Team.
    • Meet the ArchivistWe run an annual Meet the Archivist event bringing together academics and archivists to discuss and explore with students how business archive collections can be used for their research. This year we are widening the event and linking it to the Year of Homecoming 2014 to encourage genealogists to make more use of business collections.
    • Event for Corporate MembersAs a corporate archivist it is difficult to find wholly relevant training, most conferences/training will include relevant elements but the main focus will be elsewhere. In May BACS will run its first event exclusively for corporate members; this half day event will focus on Approaching Anniversaries with relevant speakers and will include a tour of the hosting facility and a general discussion.
    • Why you should join BACS!
      Copy of BACS Journal- Scottish Business and Industrial History

      Copy of BACS Journal- Scottish Business and Industrial History

      An individual membership to BACS is incredibly cheap – just £10! Membership is open to anyone with an interest in business archive collections. Membership benefits include:

        • Quarterly e-newsletterOur first e-newsletter was sent out in January – the next issue will be sent out to members in early March. The newsletter updates members on the committees’ activities, tells them about upcoming events/initiatives and introduces our committee members. This newsletter is also an opportunity for our members to get involved so if you have any news or events to share please contact us at
        • Reduced price trainingWe try to keep our training events as low cost as possible and often they are free. However if we do need to charge, BACS members will receive a discount over non-members and priority booking if places are limited.


      • A copy of our journal – Scottish Business and Industrial HistoryNew members will receive a copy of our most recent journal – volume 27 (2012). The journal contains articles by professional historians and independent scholars, covering a wide range of topics on Scotland’s industrial past.


      Further details about how to join BACS can be found online and we now accept payment by PayPal!

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