Manuscripts and Special Collections

Business Resources Introduction

Business records are those created through the operation of a business, company or organisation, ranging from one or two people working from their home to large national corporations employing hundreds or thousands of people.

The University of Nottingham holds approximately 70 business collections relating to the economic life of the wider region. Our collections are particularly strong for businesses in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, but other areas of the East Midlands are also represented. Certain trades, such as lace-making, textiles, and mining, have long been associated with Nottinghamshire, and we aim to represent this industrial heritage in our holdings. More generally, we also actively collect the records of early utility companies and agricultural records relating to the East Midlands.

The type of records varies depending on the type of business, its size, structure and period of activity, but, as with any other collection, our holdings include paper, photographs, electronic and audio-visual records. We collect and preserve the records regardless of their format, not just the paper records.

Business records are private papers and no statutory duty exists to ensure they are accessible to the public or permanently preserved, and unfortunately some of the records were disposed of or split up before they arrived here. When companies merge or are taken over, for example as happened with the nationalisation and re-privatisation of the electricity companies, the transfer and care of historic archives may be overlooked.

Many organisations are understandably reluctant to deposit or allow access to their historic records, to protect business confidentiality and prevent their competitors accessing trade secrets or business practices. Consequently many of the business collections held here are for companies no longer in existence, and for those that are still trading, there are restrictions on what the public can access.

Companies that cease trading voluntarily can sell or deposit their records, but often the decision is made to destroy the records once the business no longer exists. Unfortunately this frequently happened to both lace manufacturing and mining records, particularly the latter where the collapse of the industry led to the destruction of records. Our holdings in these areas are small compared to their importance and impact on life in the East Midlands, although we actively seek to collect related records.

Next page: Business Collections held at the University










Manuscripts and Special Collections

Kings Meadow Campus
Lenton Lane
Nottingham, NG7 2NR

telephone: +44 (0) 115 951 4565
fax: +44 (0) 115 846 8651