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A Guide to Finding Business Information at the Library of Congress

Guide to Business History Resources

Compiled by Richard F. Sharp
Business Reference Services. Science, Technology, & Business Division
Library of Congress, Washington, DC

This guide, produced under the auspices of the Bibliographic Enrichment Advisory Team (BEAT) of the Library of Congress as part of the BECites+ Project, is a revision of a guide originally published as Chapter 13 of A Guide to Finding Business Information at the Library of Congress. Compiled by Richard F. Sharp. Washington, DC : Library of Congress. Humanities and Social Sciences Division, 1995.


Table of Contents

Introduction General Works Directories
Obsolete Securities Periodicals Master Company List
Internet Resources LC Subject Headings


Introduction

Researchers seeking historical information about an old company or an extinct firm have a fair bit of detective work to do. Some aids for such a search have been gathered together in the Business Reading Room reference collection and selected titles, primarily focusing on United States companies, are listed below. When available, links are included to online tables of contents, indexes, and lists of sources cited for those resources for which they are available. Links are also included to selected Internet resources relating to business history.

One should begin by searching for any works by or about the company in question in the Library of Congress online catalog, in the Main Card Catalog, and in appropriate bibliographies. Researchers should also consult standard indexes such as The New York Times Index, The Wall Street Journal Index, Business Periodicals Index, and the Social Science Index. In addition, researchers may consult several sets of company annual reports available on microfiche in Business Reference Services, including one covering the late 19th- and early 20th-centuries .

Researchers may also be interested in consulting the online catalog under specific subject headings relating to various aspects of business, economic, and labor history for more general works on their topic as well as the Special Collections of the Library of Congress for other related materials.

Trade catalogs can also be valuable sources of historical information. The Library of Congress offers, free of charge, a pamphlet entitled How to Find Trade Catalogs in the Library of Congress. Researchers may request copies from reference librarians in the Business Reference Services or the Main Reading Room.

General Works

  • Corporate America : a historical bibliography. -- Santa Barbara, Calif. : ABC-Clio Information Services, c1984. -- xii, 341 pp. -- (ABC-Clio research guides).
    LC Call Number: Z7164.T87 C66 1984 Bus RR
    LC Control Number: 83012232
    Contains comprehensive abstracts of articles on American business history published in a wide variety of U.S. and foreign journals during the years 1973-1982. The arrangement is by 10 broad subject categories which include, amongst others, banking, communications, energy and manufacturing . Access is by subject, corporate name and author.

    Table of Contents | Index | Sources Cited | Catalog record

  • United States corporation histories : a bibliography, 1965-1990 / Wahib Nasrallah. -- 2nd ed. -- New York : Garland Pub., 1991. -- ix, 511 pp. -- (Garland reference library of social science).
    LC Call Number: Z7164.T87 N37 1991 Bus RR
    LC Control Number: 91028858
    Includes citations to articles, monographs and pamphlets arranged alphabetically by company name. Coverage is for the years 1965-1990. No abstracts or annotations are provided. There is an author index and an index grouping the companies by industry. A separate corporate executive index is available which ties personal names of executives to specific companies.

    Table of Contents | Index | Sources Cited | Catalog record

  • International directory of company histories, writers and researchers, Gretchen Antelman ... {et al.}. Chicago : St. James Press, c1988 -- <1999> v. <1-5, 7-25>
    LC Call Number: HD2721.I63 1988 Bus Ref
    LC Control Number: 89190943
    Includes bibliographical references and indexes, with "A cumulative index to companies and persons ... beginning with volume 7"--Pref., v. 7.

    This multivolume set is a work in progress, providing brief essays on the historical development of approximately 3500 major companies. The first volumes group companies by industry; later volumes list companies alphabetically, but also include an industry index, as well as a cumulated company index covering all volumes issued to date. The set includes publicly held, private, and non-profit companies in addition to some state-owned companies. Companies are selected for inclusion based on annual sales, and for their influence within their industry or in their region. Entries contain legal name; address; phone; fax; and website, if available; incorporation date; number of employees; recent sales figures; SIC codes; stock exchange; a summary of the corporate mission and goals; lists of principal subsidiaries, divisions, and operating units, and, if available, references to articles for further reading.

    Table of Contents | Catalog record

  • Business incorporations in the United States, 1800-1943 -- [New York] : National Bureau of Economic Research, [1948]. -- viii, 184 pp. : illus.
    LC Call Number: HD2785.E85 Bus Ref
    LC Control Number: 48010514
    This volume offers a detailed statistical analysis, by state and industry, of the foundation of entrepreneurship during the formative years of the republic. The author gathered, from state reports, the numbers, types and longevity of incorporations in a dozen or more of the states having greater concentrations of population and industrial development.
    Includes statistical analyses.
    Table of Contents | Index | Sources Cited | Catalog record
  • "Business and employment records," Kory L Meyerink. In The Source : a guidebook of American genealogy, edited by Loretto Dennis Szucs and Sandra Hargreaves Luebking. Salt Lake City, Utah : Ancestry Publishing Company. 1997. Chapter 10, pp. 37-359.
    LC Call Number: CS49.S65 1984 LH&G; copy in Bus Ref vertical file
    LC Control Number: 96041402
    Written from the point of view of the genealogist, this section from chapter 10 includes a general history of types of United States business and employment records from colonial times to the twentieth century along with discussion of the best ways to locate them.
    Table of Contents | Sources Cited | Catalog record
  • The Business founding date directory: alphabetical and chronological sections. / Etna M. Kelley. -- [1st ed.]. -- Scarsdale, N.Y. : Morgan & Morgan, [1954]. -- x, 228 pp. : illus.
    LC Call Number: HD2785.K4 Bus Ref Reference Desk
    LC Control Number: 54006999

    ______Supplement to the Business Founding Date Directory. / Etna M. Kelley. -- New York: Morgan & Morgan, 1956. 16 pp.
    LC Call Number: HD2785.K4 Suppl Bus Ref Reference Desk

    The main volume lists almost 10,000 businesses founded in the United States between 1687 and 1915, arranged alphabetically by company name and chronologically by founding date. The supplement is in the same format as the original volume and includes founding dates for firms founded in 1916, 1917, 1918, and in 1931, 1932, and 1933.

    Catalog record

  • Corporate acquisition guide, 1881/1995. Seattle, WA : Environmental Financial Information Services, Inc., 1996.
    LC Call Number:HD2746.55.U5 C67 Bus Ref Desk
    LC Control Number: 95640958
    A list of corporate acquisitions drawn from the Environmental Financial Information Services database, which was developed to facilitate research into issues associated with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Superfund and other environmental mandates. There are three sections of the guide. The first is arranged by the name of corporate entity which was acquired followed by the name of the acquiring entity and the year of acquisition; the second is arranged by the name of the acquiring corporate entity, followed by the name of the entity acquired and the year of acquisition; the third is arranged by the year of acquisition, followed by the name of the corporate entity acquired and the name of the acquiring corporate entity.

    Catalog Record

  • Corporate entity name change guide, 1975/1993. Seattle, WA : Environmental Financial Information Services, Inc., 1994.
    LC Call Number: HG4057 .A156469 Bus Ref
    LC Control Number: 95640958
    A list of corporate name changes drawn from the Environmental Financial Information Services database, which was developed to facilitate research into issues associated with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Superfund and other environmental mandates. There are two sections of the guide, the first arranged by the old corporate entity name followed by the new name; the second, arranged by new corporate entity name, followed by the old name.

    Catalog Record

  • Corporate archives and history : making the past work / edited by Arnita A. Jones and Philip L. Cantelon. -- Malabar, Fla. : Krieger Pub., 1993. -- xi, 211 pp. : ill
    LC Call Number: HF5736.C63 1993 Bus Ref
    LC Control Number: 91046918
    Includes bibliographical references.
    This volume, edited by historians, is not a directory of corporate archives but instead makes a strong case, based on several examples, of the need for corporations large and small, to establish archives and formal histories rather than depending on "institutional memories" of individuals.
    Table of Contents | Index | Sources Cited | Catalog record
  • Listing Statements of the New York Stock Exchange
    New York, F. E. Fitch, inc. v.1-v.956 (1884:June/1888:Oct.-1983:Sept./Oct.)
    LC Call Number: HG4501.N4
    LC Control Number: ca 24000283
    Useful for historical public company research. This title was published from 1884-1983 and contains the actual Prospectuses of companies listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Each volume has an index of the filings contained in that volume, and, up until the October 1953 edition, each volume also had a Cumulative Index. MIT has placed the cumulative list through December 1945 online at http://libguides.mit.edu/content.php?pid=63012&sid=466608   [PDF Format: 7 MB/ 39 pp.]
    Catalog record

Directories

Most researchers seeking information about early or obsolete U.S. companies are well served by consulting the older volumes of the following directories. Researchers at the Library of Congress may request these volumes from the stacks by call slip at the Book Service Desk maintained by the Collections Access, Loan and Management Division on the 5th floor of the Adams Building.

  • Annual guide to stocks: Directory of active stocks. -- Jersey City, NJ : Financial Information Inc. [1997? - ]
    LC Call Number: HG4512.R4
    LC Control Number: 97644571
    Formerly a section of the Financial stock guide service, this title provides information, as available, on outstanding foreign and domestic listed and unlisted stocks, including the place of incorporation, par value, CUSIP number, transfer agent, transfer charge, dividend disbursing agent, recent changes in capital structure and recent dividend information. Information regarding corporations which are no longer in existence is cumulated annually in the Directory of obsolete securities: annual guide to stocks, also published by Financial Information, Inc.

    Catalog record

  • The Dun & Bradstreet reference book of American business. -- Murray Hill, N.J. : Dun & Bradstreet, Inc. -- Bimonthly.
    LC Call Number: HF5573.D7 Bus Ref (latest edition only on reference; request earlier editions from the stacks)
    LC Control Number: 91649890
    Began publication in 1859 under the title Reference Book. The Library's holdings begin with the 1864-65 edition.
    This multi-volume work is arranged by state and community within the state. It provides an alphabetical listing of establishments doing credit based business. The applicable SIC code, telephone number, year established and Dun's credit rating are listed. Updated bimonthly.

    Catalog record

  • Mergent's manuals. (formerly Moody's Manuals) -- New York. Mergent, Inc.
    Moody's manuals, (now published as the Mergent Manuals, following the acquisition of Moody's by Mergent in 1998), are standard reference sources covering the last century. The manuals provide information on company history, mergers and acquisitions, subsidiaries, principle plants and properties, as well as basic financial data. Only the most recent volumes of the Mergent Manuals are kept on reference in the Business Reading Room. Data from recent volumes are also available through the online service Mergent Online (by Mergent, Incorporated), which is available by subscription only. Researchers onsite may use this database in the Business Reading Room; onsite researchers may also request non-current print volumes from the Library's stacks or microfiche copies in the Microform Reading Room. For information on earlier titles published by Moody, see the online catalog. The series currently includes the following titles. The dates listed are the beginning dates for the current titles.
    Bank and Finance Manual. 1955 -- ;
    LC Call Number: HG4961.M65 Bus Ref    
        (latest edition only on reference; request earlier editions from the stacks)
    Microfiche: (o) 86/4
        Request in Microform RR

    LC Control Number: 56014722 (print and microfiche editions)

         Catalog records: print and microfiche editions
    Industrial Manual. 1954 -- ;
    LC Call Number: HG4961.M67; Bus RR
        (latest edition only on reference; request earlier editions from the stacks)
    Microfiche: (o) 86/4
        Request in Microform RR

    LC Control Number: 56014721 (print edition)
    LC Control Number: sf86090729 (microfiche edition)

         Catalog record print edition    |    Catalog record microfiche edition
    International Manual. 1981 -- ;
    LC Call Number: HG4009.M66;
       (latest edition only on reference; request earlier editions from the stacks)
    Microfiche: (o) 86/4
        Request in Microform RR

    LC Control Number 8264121 print edition LC Control Number: sf86090741 (microfiche edition)

         Catalog record print edition    |    Catalog record microfiche edition
    OTC Industrial Manual. 1970 -- ;

    LC Call Number: HG4961.M7237;
       (latest edition only on reference; request earlier editions from the stacks)
    Microfiche (o) 86/4
        Request in Microform RR

    LC Control Number: 77649772 (print edition)
    LC Control Number: sf86090740 (microfiche edition)

         Catalog record print edition    |    Catalog record microfiche edition
    Public Utility Manual. 1954 -- ;
    LC Call Number: HG4961.M7245;
       (latest edition only on reference; request earlier editions from the stacks)
    Microfiche: (o) 86/4
        Request in Microform RR

    LC Control Number: 56003927 (print edition)
    LC Control Number: sf86090739(microfiche edition)

         Catalog record print edition    |    Catalog record microfiche edition
    Transportation Manual. 1954 -- ;
    LC Call Number: HG4971.M74;
        (latest edition only on reference; request earlier editions from the stacks)
    Microfiche: (o) 86/4
        Request in Microform RR

    LC Control Number: 57015176 (print edition)
    LC Control Number: sf86090723 (microfiche edition)

         Catalog record print edition    |    Catalog record microfiche edition
    OTC Unlisted Manual. 1986 -- ;
    LC Call Number: HG4907.M68
       (latest edition only on reference; request earlier editions from the stacks)
    LC Control Number: 87641174
         Catalog record print edition
  • The National stock summary. -- New York, N.Y. : National Quotation Bureau. -- Semiannual.
    LC Call Number: HG4907.N34 (latest edition only on reference; request earlier editions from the stacks)
    LC Control Number: 95657025

    Lists mergers, acquisitions and detailed stock transaction summaries. Includes foreign securities sold in the United States.

    Catalog record

  • Thomas register of American manufacturers and Thomas register catalog file. -- [1st] ed. (1905/06)- . -- New York : Thomas Pub. Co., [1906-- ]
    LC Call Number: T12.T6 (latest edition only on reference; request earlier editions from the stacks)
    LC Control Number: 06043937

    Title varies slightly. This basic source for identification of U.S manufacturers is arranged by product in a large (folio) sized multi-volume set, including the Thomas Register Catalog File. The products range from abacuses to yardsticks with thousands of household and industrial items in between. The current online edition is available on the Internet.

    URL: http://www.thomasnet.com/ (registration required)

    Catalog record

Obsolete Securities

  • Directory of obsolete securities: annual guide to stocks. -- Jersey City, N.J.: Financial Information, Inc. [1970 - ] annual.
    LC Call Number: HG4961.D56 Bus RR(latest edition only on reference; request earlier editions from the stacks)
    LC Control Number: 72612940

    This volume will aid the researcher not only in determining what became of companies but also indicates the value of stock at the time of merger or acquisition. Dissolutions and charter revocations are also included. The directory provides brief information on "banks and companies whose original identities have been lost as a result of one or more of the following actions: change in name, merger, acquisition, dissolution, reorganization, bankruptcy, charter cancellation....The listing for each company indicates the manner in which the company's identity or securities became obsolete; each listing also includes the new name of the comapny (if any) and the year the action occurred," along with information on whether the stock has any remaining value. Information in the directory was originally published in the Financial Daily Card Service and the Annual Guide to Stocks (formerly the Financial stock guide service). The volume for 1970 "contains a resume of material published in the Financial daily card service during the years 1927 through 1969."

    Catalog record

  • The "Questioned stock" manual : a guide to determining the true worth of old and collectible securities / Albert F. Gargiulo, with Rocco Carlucci. -- New York : McGraw-Hill, c1979. -- xiv, 193 pp. : ill.
    LC Call Number: HG4927.G37 Bus RR
    LC Control Number: 78027451

    This book, which uses some anecdotal materials, explains methods of tracking and evaluating old stock certificates. It is a guide to many helpful sources, including other titles cited in this section of the guide.
    Table of Contents | Index | Sources Cited | Catalog record
  • Obsolete American securities and corporations. -- New York : R.M. Smythe, 1904-11. -- 2 v. : front., facsims.
    LC Call Number: HG4927.S6 Bus RR
    LC Control Number: 04013655

    These volumes primarily list companies that failed or were merged in the nineteenth century with a few from the early years of the twentieth century. In some instances a reason for the failure is offered. The Robert D. Fisher manual of valuable and worthless securities, currently published by the R. M. Smythe Company, continues the work begun in these volumes.
    Table of Contents | Sources Cited | Catalog record
  • Valuable extinct securities. / compiled and published by R[oland] M[ulville] Smythe. -- New York : R. M. Smythe, 1929.
    LC Call Number: HG4927.S63 Bus RR
    LC Control Number: 30001926

    Describes companies that failed but still may have had some residual value as late as the 1920's.
    Table of Contents | Sources Cited | Catalog record
  • Obsolete securities. -- New York, N.Y. : Oildom Publishing Co., Inc., c1923. -- 431 pp.
    LC Call Number HG4927.K4 Bus RR
    LC Control Number: 24031961

    This volume is a comprehensive listing of companies chartered in Delaware and New Jersey which no longer had valid charters when this book was published (1923). The year the charter was lost is given for each company.

    Catalog record

  • Robert D. Fisher manual of valuable and worthless securities. -- New York, N.Y. : R.D. Fisher [etc.]. [c. 1926 - ] v. -
    LC Call Number: HG4055.R6 Bus RR
    LC Control Number: 26005238

    First published in 1926 under the title Marvyn Scudder Manual of Extinct or Obsolete Companies and continued by the R. M. Smythe & Company, this multi-volume set enables the researcher to quickly determine the dissolution or charter revocation date of a company.

    Catalog record

  • The Collector's guide to old U.S. stocks and bonds / Andrew C. Hall, Sr. -- 1st ed. -- New York : Vantage Press, c1984. -- ix, 227 pp. : ill.
    LC Call Number: HG4927.H35 1984 Bus RR
    LC Control Number: 83090299

    This guide is intended for the collector of stock certificates whose interest lies in the often handsome and elaborate illustrations of the actual certificates as objects of art. Listings are grouped by industry such as mining and railroads (which had some of the most attractive illustrations).

    Table of Contents | Catalog record

Periodicals

  • Business History. -- Liverpool, Liverpool University Press. Quarterly. Began with volume 1- 1958-
    LC Call Number: HF11 .B9
    LC Control Number: 65034644

    A scholarly research journal focusing on the evolution and current operation of business systems and enterprises. Issues are considered from a global perspective and cover such areas as corporate organization and growth, multinational enterprise, business efficiency, entrepreneurship, technological change, finance, marketing, human resource management, professionalization and business culture. The tables of contents are available online.

    Indexed in: Ingenta;
      (searches are free; document retrieval is available for a fee)
      Social Science Index.
      (Available in the Business Reference Services and
    online by subscription from OCLC.)
    Catalog record
  • Business history review. -- Boston : Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration. -- Quarterly.
    LC Call Number: HF5001.B8262    
    Microfilm: 07060
       Request in Microform Reading Room
    LC Control Number: 30008718

    This quarterly journal contains scholarly articles, book reviews, and review essays. Its targer audience includes historians, economists, business people, government administrators, and academic and corporate librarians. The "Archives" section of the journal's web site contains abstracts for each issue from 1954 to the present. The web site also offers an index for volumes from 1979 to present.
    Also indexed in: Ingenta;
      (searches are free; document retrieval is available for a fee)
      Social Science Index.
      (Available to researchers in the Business Reading Room and
    online by subscription from OCLC.)

    Catalog record (print edition) | Catalog record (microfilm edition)

  • The Journal of economic history. -- Wilmington, Del. [etc.]. : Economic History Association at the University of Pennsylvania [etc.]. -- Quarterly.
    LC Call Number: HC10.J64
    Microfilm:(o) 82/207
       Request in Microform Reading Room

    LC Control Number: 43006024 (Print edition)
    LC Control Number: 98093221 (Microfilm edition)

    Articles published in this scholarly journal provide broad international coverage of the field. It also contains detailed summaries of dissertations in economics.
    Indexed in: Ingenta;
      (searches are free; document retrieval is available for a fee)
      Social Science Index.
      (Available in the Business Reference Services and
    online by subscription from OCLC.)

    Catalog record (print edition)   |    Catalog record (microfilm edition)

Internet Resources

  • Ad*Access
    Images and information on over 7,000 advertisements printed in U.S. and Canadian newspapers and magazines between 1911 and 1955 related to radio, television, transportation, beauty and hygiene, or World War II. From the collections of the Duke University's Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library.
  • The Business History Conference
    The Business History Conference seeks to disseminate information on the study of business history and to facilitate communication among scholars in this field. The site provides information on its publications and annual conference, in addition to a searchable directory of the members of the Business History Conference, The Cliometric Society, the Economic History Association, the Economic History Society, and the History of Economics Society.
  • Directory of Corporate Archives in the United States and Canada
    This online version of the "Directory of Corporate Archives in the United States and Canada," published by the Business Archives Section of the Society of American Archivists includes entries for companies that maintain their own historical records, as well as for those that contract with consulting firms. Also included are archives of professional associations. Users may search by company or association, archivist, or U.S. state or Canadian province.
  • European Guide on Banking and Business Archives
    This searchable online database is a joint project of the Centre for European Business History (CEBH), the European Association for Banking History (EABH), the Gesellschaft für Unternehmensgeschichte (GUG), and the Society for European Business History (SEBH). The guide includes information on approximately 120 European business archives selected on the base of their national scope, professional management of the archive, accessibility of the archive for research, and maintenance of records older than thirty years.
  • The Goldsheet Obsolete Securities Page (Goldsheet Mining Directory)
    Developed in response to frequent requests regarding old mining companies and their stock certificates, this site contains publication information on standard print resources; links to U.S. state and Canadian provincial agencies responsible for company incorporations, as well as a link to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. There are also links to several commerical firms which will research your old certificates for a fee and links to a number of scripophily dealers and organizations, which can provide information on collectable certificates.
  • Labour and Business History (The World Wide Web Virtual Library)
    Maintained by the International Institute of Social History and the Netherlands Economic History Archive, the site lists resources related to labor and business and economic history with sections for organizations, journals, exhibitions, conferences, and reference tools. Users may either browse the resources alphabetically or enter a keyword search.
  • Made in Buffalo: How To Research Local Companies
    Although general sources are included, this guide focuses specifically on sources for Buffalo and Western New York. However, the lists of local sources may suggest to the user the types of additional sources that may be available off-line in other localities to conduct this type of research. To locate a library in the area where the company in which you are interested was located, see the Library's Finding a Local Library guide.
  • Scripophily.com
    Primarily an advertising site for the company Scripophily.com, which purchases and sells collectible stock and bond certificates, and its affiliated company, Research Old Stocks. The "What is Scripophily" link provides information on the origin of scripophily as a hobby, and a brief discussion of characteristics that determine the value of an old certificate, including "condition, age, historical significance, signatures, rarity, demand for item, aesthetics, type of company, original face value, bankers associated with issuance, transfer stamps, cancellation markings, issued or unissued, printers, and type of engraving process."
  • Special Collections in the Library of Congress: Business, Economic, and Labor History
    The entries in this online guide link directly to substantive descriptions of special collections in the Library of Congress which contain materials of interest to researchers in a variety of disciplines, including U.S. business and labor history. Selected images from some of the collections may also be viewed online. Types of materials within each collection that may be of particular interest to the business/labor history researcher have been noted. Other business and labor related materials may also be located by searching the Prints and Photographs Division online catalog, the American Memory Collections, and A Guide to the Microform Collections in the Library of Congress.
  • Tracing Old Stocks at Kirstein (Boston Public Library. Kirstein Business Branch)
    An annotated list of basic print resources useful for determining if an old stock certificate has current value. Although written specifically for researchers using the Boston Public Library, the guide suggests standard sources which may be available to searchers in other large institutions. Includes a link to a separate guide for finding historical stock prices.
  • What to Do with an Old Stock Certificate. Enoch Pratt Free Library (Baltimore,MD)
    A good overview of how to research the value of an old stock certificate, this page includes links to both print and online sources, as well as information on scripophily, the hobby of collecting old stock and bond certificates.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Additional works on business, economic, and labor history in the Library of Congress may be identified by searching the Online Catalog under appropriate Library of Congress subject headings. Selecting any of the following subject headings will link you directly to the Catalog and automatically execute a command keyword search for the authorized subject selected and the corresponding subdivision (if present). You may also go to the Library of Congress Online Catalog to search the catalog directly.

 

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