Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Finding Historical Corporate Reports On-Line

Business historians have a wealth of options for finding recent and current company annual reports; nearly all companies now post them on-line, and several services provide collections of such data (though access may require a paid subscription, either personal or through a library); see here for an international list. But finding historical corporate reports is not so easy; though many libraries hold them, they have not been a priority for digitization. Nevertheless, for the United States and Canada, a few libraries make digitized reports available:
Canadian Corporate Reports at McGill University
Columbia Historical Corporate Reports
Corporate Reports Online at Penn
Northwest Historical Annual Reports at the University of Washington
In addition, Judith Nixon at Purdue University Library has posted a combined listing (not the reports themselves) of the reports held by Columbia, Cornell, Harvard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Purdue, Stanford, Alabama, California-Berkeley, Pennsylvania, Western Ontario, Yale, and the Science/Industry/Business Library of New York Public Library.
  Proquest offers Historical Corporate Reports, which includes "42,000 reports from 1844 onward, representing over 800 leading North American companies." This database requires a subscription, but it is freely available to users at many college, university, and public libraries.
  The Library of Congress provides indexes of the pre-1974 U.S. annual reports and 1975-1983 annual reports available there on microfiche.
  For those trying to track down reports from companies directly, the on-line Directory of Corporate Archives in the United States and Canada, just updated and now maintained by the Association of American Archivists, is a useful tool.