Historians and archivists concerned
with the history of banks and businesses are interested in the firms of
national and international business partners. However, information on the
history of European firms and on their archives are often hard to access.
The European Guide on Banking and Business Archives will be a starting
point at which to begin one´s search.
A further aspect by the compilation of the Guide is the creation of contacts between archivists, thereyby allowing for the exchange of information on a European level. Another aspect is that the Guide will intensify the integration of the European community of Archivists and Historians.
One of the main intentions of the
Guide is also to provide information in English - an international language,
avoiding frustration when faced with a native language guide. This can
facilitate access to archives and information about banking and business
history from far a field. The Guide can provide archive users with information
before visiting the chosen archive. It also allows for exchange of information
between archives on
an international level.
Content and Editing of the Guide:
Despite a lot of similarities in
the European countries, each country has its own peculiarities and traditions
in its situation of archives and sources on banking and business history.
Therefore a co-operation with contact-people
in all the European countries was necessary. These contact-people did provide the editors with all the necessary information on archives and sources in their country, especially names and addresses of companies running a relevant archive department.
Another task of the contact-people was to write a short introduction (2 - 3 pages) on the archive situation in their country.
A European Guide on Banking and Business Archives cannot be as detailed as national guides and also is not intended to compete with them. Therefore crossreferences to national guides (already existing or in progress) are included in these introductions. To give the user of the Guide the possibility to make contacts with other archivists on an international level, national archival organisations are also listed in these introductions.
Selection of the archives:
Due to the enormity and variety of European banks and businesses it is clear that the Guide cannot be as detailed as a national guide. Therefore strict criteria for the selection of the archives were necessary. These criteria are:
· national scope of the bank
· professional management of the archive (no record depots)
· accessibility of the archive for research
· records older than thirty years.
One of the main differences between the European countries is the role of state archives in the preservation of sources on banking and business history. In a lot of countries, not only in the former socialist countries, a huge amount of records are not stored in archives of banks or businesses but in public archives on national or local level. In some countries also regional business archives are of great importance in the preservation of banking and business records. Both regional and state archives are of special consequence for "ownerless" archives of companies that do not exist anymore.
Description of the Archives:
To collect the informations we send standardised questionnaires to the archives. As the Guide is intended to be more than a simple address-directory, short texts on the companies, their history and their archive records are included. To secure a high and uniform level of the descriptions the information given by the archives was is edited at the Frankfurt Office. This is also necessary in order to secure that professional and scientific contents were not mixed with promotional aspects.
The Guide is published as an online searchable database on the INTERNET. The INTERNET offers an enhanced searching function and an easy way to keep the data up-to-date, as well as allowing us to continually add further companies to the Guide. The publishing via INTERNET also offered the possibility to start with publication before the final amount of data has been completed. However as a site "in progress" with only limited information often deters the user from returning for a second time, therefore publication was started once a large amount of information was available. This hopefully will keep the users' attention and ensure that he/she will return to the site.