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   Issue 9, Summer/Fall 2007

Industry Sources - Historical

Overview        Print Resources
Internet Resources    Databases
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This guide does not provide detailed information on doing historical industry research. Much of the oldest information on various industries is not necessarily found in full-text electronic sources. Instead, access to many articles is through print or online indices that cover periodicals and journals but which may or may not be business specific. The most obvious are Business Periodicals Index, its precursor, Industrial Arts Index, as well as PAIS, Poole's and Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature. Other sources which are not business specific but which can be helpful include databases containing long runs of newspapers as well as the database American Periodical Series, which contains early journals and magazines.

Also, many online sources used for current industry information have in the past been published in print and are often available in quite long runs. Publications of the U.S. Census Bureau are prime examples. Economic Census data is published on the U.S. Census Bureau web page going back as far as 1992, but prior to that the Census Bureau published this information in print format in much the same form as it is currently published. In addition, prior to the start of the Economic Census, which began in the 1930's, some business and related economic data was contained in the general Decennial Census.

BERA - Business & Economics Research Advisor - A Quarterly Guide to Business & Economics Topics

Issue 9/10: Summer/Fall 2007
Updated January 2013

Guide to Industry Research

Table of Contents

Basic Strategies
Classification Codes
Industry Sources - United States Government
Industry Sources - General
Industry Sources - Historical

Smoke stack of TVA chemical plant, 1942
Image (above):
Smoke stack of TVA chemical plant, 1942.
FSA-OWI Collection
Prints and Photographs Division
Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-fsac-1a35277

Historical Statistics of the United States, Colonial Times to 1970 is available as a 2 volume set and as a freely available electronic resource for much of the relevant data. In addition, Cambridge University Press has also produced a 5 volume updated millennial edition incorporating data through the 2000 Census, also available for purchase in online form from the publisher.External Link The online subscription product Historical Statistics of the United States is available at the Library of Congress for on-site users only.


Bulletin of the Public Affairs Information Service; Annual Cumulation. Continued as the Public Affairs Information Service [PAIS] Bulletin. . New York : Public Affairs Information Service 1915 - 1990.
LC Call Number: Z7163 .P9
LC Catalog Record: 16000920

Period from 1972 forward also available in the subscription database product PAIS International. Access at the Library of Congress limited to users onsite.

Bulletin of the Department of Labor. (Bulletin of the Bureau of Labor). Washington [D.C. : G.P.O.: United States. Dept. of Labor. 1895-
LC Call Number: HD8051 .A62
LC Catalog Record: sf84007032
Some issues are available online from Hathi Trust Digital Library.External Link

Another source of interest, though mostly for manufacturing and labor concerns, is the Department of Labor's Bulletin which was begun in 1895 and continued under various names. The Department has prepared a subject index of the articles appearing in the Bulletins (and other publications) from 1978-1998, and there are earlier indices for the material predating 1978.


Up to March 1, 1906 (all reports)Z7164.L1 U6
1895-1915Z7164.L1 U663
1895-1915HD8051 .A2 (Bulletin #174)
  (numerical listing 1886-1971 &
   subject listing from 1915)
HD8051 .A62 (Bulletin #1749)
1960-1970 Z7164. L1 U672
1972-1977Z7164. L1 U6672
1975-1980Z7164. L1 U672
1990 External Link (Bulletin 1749, 925)

Bureau of the Census Catalog of Publications, 1790-1972. Washington : U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Social and Economic Statistics Administration, Bureau of the Census : for sale by the Supt. of Docs., U.S. Govt. Print. Off., 1974.
LC Call Number: Z7554.U5 U58 1974
LC Catalog Record: 74600076 Full text available online [PDF format: 175 MB / 929 p.]

This title is intended to aid researchers in finding the call number for specific Census publications related to the Decennial Census as well as the Economic Census and it's ancestors. It includes the demographic content as well as the manufacturing, commerce, and industries content. The Census has also digitized Census catalogs going back to 1946.

Business Periodicals Index. New York, H.W. Wilson Co. v. 27 cm. v. 1- Jan. 1958/June 1959 - present.
LC Call Number: Z7164.C81 B983
LC Catalog Record: 58012645

Successor to The Industrial Arts Index. Index also available online as part of EBSCO (H.W. Wilson) Business Full Text database beginning in 1982. Abstracts are included beginning in 1984. Full text of articles from nearly 500 publications begins in 1995. The content from the volume is now part of the database Applied Science and Business Periodicals Retrospective. Access to the online database is limited to users onsite.

Carter, Susan B. et al. Historical Statistics of the United States : Earliest Times to the Present. Millennial ed. New York : Cambridge University Press, c2006.
LC Call Number: HA202 .H57 2006
LC Catalog Record: 2005027089
Table of Contents
Publisher description

Related to Historical Statistics of the United States, Colonial Times to 1970.

Funk & Scott Index of Corporations & Industries. Cleveland [etc.] Funk & Scott Pub. Co. 1960 - present.
LC Call Number: Z7165.U5 F23
LC Catalog Record: 63025278
LC Catalog Record: 81641652
LC Catalog Record: 94657040

Also known as Predicast's F & S Index United States and the F&S Index.

Harvard Studies in Business History. Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press. Series.
See the Library of Congress online catalog for information on LC holdings.

Historical Statistics of the United States, Colonial Times to 1970. [prepared by] U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Bureau of the Census.
LC Call Number: HA202.H57
LC Catalog Record: 89002274
Digitized version available from Bureau of the Census

Includes more than 12,500 time series, mostly annual, providing a statistical history of U.S. social, economic, political, and geographic development during periods from 1610 to 1970.

The Industrial Arts Index. Annual Cumulation. White Plains, N.Y. : H.W. Wilson, 1913-1957.
LC Call Number: Z7913 .I7
LC Catalog Record: 2001201675

Continued by the Business Periodicals Index.

International Index to Periodicals. New York : H.W. Wilson Co., 1907-1955.
LC Call Number: AI3 .R49
LC Catalog Record: 88640970

Content from the print index is also included in the Wilson Humanities & Social Sciences Index Retrospective online database. Access to the database limited to onsite users.

Larson, Henrietta M., Guide to Business History: Materials for the study of American Business History and Suggestions for their Use. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1948.
LC Call Number: Z7164.C81 L25
LC Catalog Record: 48007565

Individual business units are covered. Includes sections on the history of individual units and industries like agriculture, banks, communications, construction, distribution concerns, insurance, manufacturing, mining, petroleum, printing and publishing, public utilities, real estate, transportation, and miscellaneous industries with further breakdowns by type. Also includes other historical business sources.

Nineteenth Century Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature. New York : H.W. Wilson Co. 1890-1899.
LC Call Number: AI3 .R496
LC Catalog Record: a 44005439

Included as part of the Wilson Readers' Guide Retrospective online database. Access to the database limited to onsite users.

Poole's Index to Periodical Literature. rev. ed. New York, P. Smith, 1938.
LC Call Number: AI3 .P7 1938
LC Catalog Record: 38032445

Included in the Nineteenth Century Masterfile online database. Access to the database limited to patrons onsite. An electronic copy of the 3rd edition dated 1882 is available from the HathiTrust. External Link

Public Affairs Information Service Bulletin (Annual). Formerly the Bulletin of the Public Affairs Information Service. New York : Public Affairs Information Service, 1915-1990.
LC Call Number: Z7163 .P9
LC Catalog Record: 16000920
LC Catalog Record: 88651996
LC Catalog Record: 88651993

The subscription database product PAIS Archive provides access to the digitized version of the PAIS Annual Cumulated Bulletin published 1915-1976. Period from 1972 forward is available in PAIS International. Access to the databases is limited to onsite users.

Readers' Guide to Periodical Literature. Minneapolis : H.W. Wilson Co., 1900 - present.
LC Call Number: AI3 .R48
LC Catalog Record: 06008232

Period from 1990 to 1982 included in Wilson's Readers' Guide Retrospective online database. Access to the database is limited to onsite users.

Readers' Guide to Periodical Literature. Supplement. Minneapolis, Minn. : H.W. Wilson Co., [1913 - 1919].
LC Call Number: AI3 .R49
LC Catalog Record: 88640960

Continued by the International Index to Periodicals.

Statistical Abstract of the United States. Prepared by the chief of the Bureau of Statistics, Treasury Department. Washington : U.S. G.P.O., 1878 - present.
LC Call Number: HA202
LC Catalog Record: 04018089
Online versions 1878-2012

Both the Statistical Abstract of the United States and the Historical Statistics of the United States, Colonial Times to 1970 are very good about sourcing the data, which is a good way to track more detailed information. U.S. Census Bureau discontinued publication of this title in 2012 and ProQuest has been publishing it as ProQuest statistical abstract of the United States.


Census of Population and Housing

These are digitized versions of the print volumes created from the Census of Population and Housing from 1790-2010. Different Census years can vary as to what is included and what was even digitized. For example in the 1810 Census there was a volume that included "A statement of the arts and manufactures of the United States of America, for the year 1810" that wasn't included in the 1820. The 1870 Census had a volume devoted to "The statistics of the wealth and industry of the United States" while the 1930 had separate volumes for Agriculture (which was in multiple volumes), Manufactures, Mines and Quarries, and Distribution (retail in one volume, wholesale in another). There is also a Special Collections area which has digitized Census Bulletins covering many topics including: Census of Manufactures: 1905; Chemicals and allied products; Cotton Production (various years); Census of Electrical Industries (various years); Census of Manufactures (various years); etc.

Historical Statistics of the United States, Colonial Times to 1970

This is a two-volume print set but Census has made this volume as well as earlier title that covers 1789 - 1945 available online. The notes that tell where the data came from can be used to get to more detailed data that this title didn't include.


Please note that access to these subscription products at the Library of Congress is limited to onsite patrons.


There are several subscription databases that are adding historical full-text articles in PDF format. ProQuest offers two — American Periodicals Series Online and ProQuest Historical Newspapers & Periodicals. Historical Newspapers & Periodicals includes over a dozen historical United States and British newspapers along with hundreds of American periodicals.

Readex also offers a product, America's Historical Newspapers, 1690-1922 , which includes hundreds of historic newspapers published in 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Applied Science and Business Retrospective

Includes citations to content from 1913-1983 from various print Wilson's title including Applied Science, Business Periodicals, and Industrial Arts Index (1913-1957). This is not full-text but provides citation information to articles that cover important events, issues, and trends in the history of business and industry.

Historical Statistics of the United States. Millenial Edition

This electronic version of the print source is a compendium of statistics from over 1,000 sources containing over 37,000 data series and covering the social, economic, and political life of the United States from the earliest times to the present.

Mergent Web Reports (formerly Mergent Corporate Manuals)

This electronic product from Mergent (formerly Moody's) offers searches of current and historical data (from 1900s to present), originally appearing in the company's print directories. This company also offers a separate product, Mergent Online, that provides industry reports for the U.S., Asia, and Europe.

PAIS Archive and PAIS International

The electronic version of the print source with references to journal articles, books, government documents, statistical directories, grey literature, research reports, conference reports, publications of international agencies, microfiche, Internet material, and more. Newspapers and newsletters are not indexed.

Readers Guide Retrospective and Readers Guide Full-Text

The electronic version of the print product that contains citations for popular journal titles in the fields of business, fashion, consumer affairs, fine arts, current events, health and nutrition, education, and sports. The Retrospective has 100+ years of citations from more than 500 leading popular periodicals and magazines while the full-text offers citations and some full-text.

Nineteenth Century Masterfile.

Contains Poole's Index to Periodical Literature among many other sources. It covers 60 core subject indexes to periodicals, books, newspapers, patents, and U.S. and UK government documents covering the early 1700's to 1906.

LC Subject Headings

Additional works on this subject in the Library of Congress may be identified by searching the Online Catalog under appropriate Library of Congress subject headings. Selecting a subject heading below will link you directly to the Catalog and automatically execute a search for the authorized subject selected. Please be aware that during periods of heavy use you may encounter delays in accessing the catalog. For assistance in locating other subject headings related to this topic, please consult a reference librarian.

Industries--United States--History

Commercial products--United States--History

Corporations--United States--History

[Industry]--History For example:
Manufacturing industries--United States--History

Last Updated: 01/24/2017

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   Issue 9, Spring/Fall 2007
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