Business and History at Western

A 20th Anniversary Introduction to “Business and History at Western”

Table of Contents

I. Introduction
II. The Acquisition Process
A. Collections/Ordering
B. Specialized Publishers
                   1. Antiquarian Booksellers

                   2. Company History Publishers
3. Garland Publishing
Newcomen Society of the United States

III. Additional Items Found in the Bibliography
          A. Indexed Works
B. Scanned Articles
          C. Obituaries

IV. Items Generally Excluded from this Bibliography
          A. Annual Reports
                   1. The Transfer of Catalogued  Printed Annual Reports of Corporations to the Johnston Library
                   2. Finding Corporate Annual Reports via the Catalogue of the  Western Libraries
                   3. Sources for Corporate Annual Reports
                   4. Other Print Sources for Corporate Financial Information
 Annual Financial Review: Canadian: A Carefully Revised Precis of Facts  Regarding Canadian Securities

                             This annual cumulation of financial statements of the companies listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange was  produced by the Assistant Secretary of the Exchange, W.R Houston. Since there was no index to the collection and no way of knowing what companies were covered for what years, the staff of the C.B. “Bud” Johnston indexed the entire collection from 1901 to 1941. For additional information about the publication and a ist of all the companies that submitted statements and for which years, see the Johnston Library web site. 

The Stockholders’ and Investors’ Annual
                              Financial information for companies on the Toronto and Montreal Exchanges during a portion of the 1890s is available in this publication. The Western Libraries has the years from 1893/94 to 1898/99 on microfiche and one bound print volume for the years 1895/96.

                             c) The Financial Post Record of Prospectuses (1926-1928)

                   5. Additional Electronic Sources for Annual Reports

                              a) ProQuest Historical Annual Reports (HAR) – 1844

                              b) Internet Sources for Corporate Annual Reports

                   6. A Brief Bibliography on Annual Reports
                   7. Art and Annual Reports
                   8. Historical Collections at Other Libraries
          B. Company Magazines
          C. A Note About CIHM

          D. A Note About ARCC
          E.  A Note About Business History

V. Additional Resources:
  Academic/ Scholarly Web Resources
          B.  City Collections
C.  Specialist Sites
          D.  Company Sites with Good Historical Content
VI. Acknowledgements

I. Introduction
The original printed edition of Business and History... was produced in 1992 and provides a basic bibliography on business history as well as a long list of all the company histories found in the Western Libraries. The rationale for its production is explained well enough in that edition and, suffice it here to say, there simply was no easy method for students and faculty to locate material related specifically to business history and there was no way to find corporate histories generally. To that explanation we might add the fact that, at that time, it was the role of the subject bibliographer/collections librarian to assist researchers in deriving full benefit from the material that had been acquired.
          The result was a printed bibliography that is now also online and which provides a good snapshot of what was available in 1992. This static product became, however, a rather more amorphous entity and over the two decades it is has been greatly expanded and moved beyond a mere listing of books.  It is roughly estimated that in 2012, around 3,000 companies are included and about 30% of those are Canadian . While additional company histories were found and new ones added over the years, considerable effort was also expended to gather other important company information - especially for Canadian companies.  In short, the bibliography has many different types of annotations and additions that increase significantly its value (especially for Canadian companies).  Some of them have been described above and additional details are provided below. The information should be useful for those who want to know what was done and what was not done, and for those looking for things to do.
          Apart from this major work on company history, the staff at the C.B. ‘Bud’ Johnston Library have produced many other important resources that are available on the Johnston Library web site. In addition to the ones noted below, two others that are likely to be of special interest to business historians are: 1) Selected Biographies and Autobiographies of Canadian Business Persons and a lengthy 2) Bibliography – Peter C. Newman.


II. The Acquisition Process

A. Collections/Ordering

          Most of the titles found in this collection were selected by the various collections librarians in the Western Libraries as part of their routine ordering duties. In some cases, a special effort was made to focus on publishers’ catalogues and to search specifically for company histories. It is often the case that such histories are not put out by the major publishers, but are produced by regional ones or by the various university presses.


B. Specialized Publishers

1. Antiquarian Booksellers

          Only a few titles were picked up in this manner since the budget for such purchases was limited and the ordering process a time-consuming one (especially in the pre-internet days). Among the books acquired see the history of the small printing firm that started in Woodstock, Ontario – Warwick Bros. & Rutter Ltd (1923). We also used this method occasionally to pick up older annual reports for Canadian companies in order to build upon our already strong collection. Such was the case with the reports from 1906-19 for the Canadian General Electric Co.

2. Company History Publishers

          Often corporations hire historians to write a company history and the work is privately printed (a process that is likely to increase dramatically given the new printing technologies). Even if some of the histories may be regarded as hagiographies or little more than vanity publications, they can still be of value to historians who are looking for factual background.  In some cases, there are  companies that specialize in producing such works and we will supply some examples below.  Four of the larger historical consulting firms are provided first, followed by two smaller ones:
Business History Group -
History Associates -
History Factory -
Historical Research Associates -
Winthrop Group -
Write Stuff Syndicate -
          While we did not make a concerted effort to purchase  such corporately-sponsored productions, we did order some from Write Stuff since their books are generally well-received and because they were often about companies that were, or still are, important. Some examples: The Legend of Amdahl;  The Legend of Honeywell; The Legend of Litton Industries; Evinrude/Johnson and the Legend of OMC; The Legend of Goodyear: The First Hundred Years and The Ship in the Balloon: The Story of Boston Scientific and the Development of Less Invasive Medicine. There are around 50 such titles in our collections and they can be located by performing a key word search on the words “Write Stuff” and legend.  For examples from Winthrop see Corning and the Craft of Innovation and Trammel Crow, Master Builder: The Story of America’s Largest Real Estate Empire (the latter published by Wiley, the former by Oxford University Press). For good background articles discussing such publishers see: Lynnley Browning, “Nuggets Mined From the Corporate Past, for a Fee,” The New York Times, August 19, 2001 and Alicia Clegg, “The Corporate Memory Makers,” Financial Times, Jan. 12, 2010, p.12.

3. Garland Publishing

                   This publisher often put out subject catalogues that contained both new titles and facsimile editions of books that had been published, but were out of print. We will provide here two examples from which titles were ordered.

          Accounting: History and Thought is a 20 volume series that included 12 new books as well as some that had previously been published. While we often had copies of the books in our strong collections (e.g. The Story of the Firm 1864-1964, Clarkson, Gordon & Co.) we often ordered them when we did not (e.g. Touche Ross: A Biography).

          The History of Advertising is a 40 volume facsimile series of important books on the subject. From this series we picked some classics related to the industry and the companies within it.  Among the books acquired was Helen Woodward’s Through Many Windows, (1926) which “is the memoir of a female advertising agent employed at the turn of the century. Her story reveals the state of advertising during this period and the attitude toward women in business.”

          As an aside, those interested in business history and the publishing industry should note that the records of Garland Publishing, along with the catalogues referred to above are found in the Princeton University Manuscript Division.

4. Newcomen Society of the United States

                   This society was (it ceased to exist in 2007) focussed on business history and it distributed hundreds of pamphlets, many of which were brief company histories. For many years the Western Libraries received the publications via membership. In more recent years the membership was picked up by the Director at the Johnston Library and the Newcomen titles again began to arrive.  Throughout the collections the Newcomen books were identified and those related to company histories were included in this bibliography – there are hundreds. One can also find such publications listed in Wahib Nasrallah’s book – U.S. Corporation Histories....and in Business Firms Master Index: A Guide to Sources of Information on Approximately 110,00 Companies in the United States and Including Canadian and Other Selected Foreign Firms.

III. Additional Items Found in the Bibliography

A. Indexed Works

          It is the case that historical information about a company is sometimes buried in a general reference book or an industry tome deep in the stacks. In many instances when we stumbled across useful resources such as these we noted them and they appear in our bibliography.  We will provide the works here. Often the company-related entries also contained a bibliography. (Note that this list does not contain the two major Canadian works from which we scanned the complete entry for over 200 Canadian companies: 1)Industrial Canada: Centennial Edition, 1967 and 2) The Canadian Register of Commerce and Industry, 1959. These works are described elsewhere and the lists of scanned companies provided).

Source:  (additional information about each title is provided in the bibliography)

The Advertising Age Encyclopedia of Advertising
The Airlines Industry
American Business History: Case Studies
The Automobile Industry, 1896 - 1920
The Automobile Industry, 1920-1980
Banking and Finance
, Vol. 1
Banking and Finance, Vol. 2
The Branding of America: From Levi Strauss to Chrysler...
Canadian Brewing Companies
Canadian Company Histories
The Canadian Petrochemical Industry
Candy: The Sweet History
The Codfathers: Lessons from the Atlantic Business Elite
CoolBrands 2010/11 : An Insight into some of Britain's Coolest Brands 
Current Cases in Business
Encyclopedia of American Business History
Energy in Canada
Eye on the Future: Business People in Calgary and the Bow Valley, 1870-1900
Family Pride: Profiles of Five of America’s Best-Run Family Businesses
The Financial Post Turning it Around: How Ten Canadian Organizations...

The Footwear Industry: Profiles in Leadership
Fortune’s Favorites: Portraits of Some American Corporations
Great American Beer: 50 Brands that Shaped the Twentieth Century
Great Business Disasters
The Great Merchants
Harvesting the Flame: A History of Alberta’s Rural Natural Gas Cooperatives
The independent telephone industry in Ontario : a history
International Directory of Company Histories
Iron and Steel in the Nineteenth Century
The Making of a Conglomerate
Men of Property: The Canadian Developers Who are Buying America
Notable Corporate Chronologies
Railroads in the Age of Regulation (1900-1980)
Railroads in the Nineteenth Century
The Story of Investment Companies
The Wine Atlas of Canada
Wines of Ontario: An Industry Comes of Age
World Guide to Automobile Manufacturers
Yorkshire Company Operators

          * The International Directory of Company Histories is a major multi-volume reference work produced by Gale. We indexed only the Canadian companies contained within the volumes for the benefit of researchers looking for Canadian information. This was begun when the volumes were available only in print. The entire set is now electronic and can be searched. Canadian Company Histories noted above was an early Gale reference work focussed on just Canadian companies.

          There were other books noticed that we did not have the time or staff to index. This presents a problem as more material is move to storage and can no longer be browsed. On the other hand, as the move to digitization progresses, such efforts may not be needed since the companies can be found through a simple electronic search.  Here are three examples of the kinds of books that are useful for company historians and which have not been indexed: 1) The Mine Finders (for Canadian mines) ; 2) The Early Breweries of New Jersey and The Red Book of West Africa: Historical and Descriptive Commercial and Industrial Facts, Figures and Resources.

B. Scanned Articles

          Over the years we were able to discover useful Canadian company profiles either by using indexes or simply serendipitously while wandering through the stacks. Often they were found on hard-to-use microform or located in a rather obscure trade publication. If the articles were significant (e.g. about a company anniversary) we sometimes took the time to reproduce them for scholars who are interested in business history.  Listed below by company names are most of the scans we made, along with the source and the date.

Company:       Source:
AIKENHEAD  (Toronto Board of Trade Journal, 1970) 
 ARGUS  (Financial Post, 1945 and a RC, 1975) 
(Financial Post, 1925)
BARBER-ELLIS     (Financial Post, 1926) 
(Financial Post, 1934) 
BRICKLIN  (Financial Times, 1974)* 
CANADIAN BIOSCOPE   ( Financial Post, 1914) 
(Western News 2002) 
(Metro.Toronto Business Journal 1984) 
(Financial Post 1924) 
DOMINION AUTOPHONE    (Financial Post, 1914) 
DOMINION COAL AND WOOD   (Metro.Toronto Business Journal, 1985) 
DOMINION GENERAL FILM   (Financial Post, 1914) 
(British Columbia Business Journal 1969/70) 
(Business Life, 1982) 
(Canadian Grocer, 1986) 
HAYES MANUFACTURING  ( British Columbia Business Journal 1971)
HENRY BIRKS   (Financial Post, 1923) 
(News From Home 1940)
(Financial Times 1970) 
MERCK  (Royal Commission , 1984)
PENNER FOODS  ( Canadian Grocer 1940)
QUEBEC AUTOBUS   (Canadian Transportation, 1960) 
REIMER  (Manitoba Business Journal, 1971) 
SLEEMAN   (Financial Times, 1991) 
(Financial Post 1921)
 STARR  (Financial Post 1929)
 STUDEBAKER ( Financial Post, 1929)
 TUCKETT TOBACCO  (Financial Post, 1913 and 1930)
 WILLSON STATIONERS  (Manitoba Business Journal  1969)

 *This is the Canadian newspaper, The Financial Times, which is no longer published.

C. Obituaries

          During the last 20 years as we gathered corporate information we often harvested the death notices of individuals who were important in relation to the histories of companies. In almost all cases the obituaries were full of useful information about the company as well as the individual. They are found scattered throughout our large corporate bibliography, but are assembled here. It should be noted that there was no attempt to record all of the obituaries, so dedicated researchers can use the dates provided to locate more of them. All of the details are found with each company listing and they are presented here in alphabetical order by company name with the name of the deceased in parentheses.

Company:   Individual: 



(Theo Albrecht)


 (Geoff Ballard)
 BASKIN-ROBBINS   (Irvine Robbins)
BATA   (Thomas Bata) 
BERTELSMANN AG   (Reinhard Mohn) 
Body Shop
(Dame Anita Roddick) 
(Pierre de Beaumont) 
(Bruce Smith) 
(Alfred Dickson Billes) 
 CHC HELICOPTERS  (Craig Laurence Dobbin) 
 CITIGROUP  (Sandy Weill) 
 EDPER INVESTMENTS LTD. (Edward Maurice Bronfman)
 ESTEE LAUDER (Estee Lauder)
E. & J. GALLO WINERY   (Ernest Gallo) 
FITZHENRY & WHITESIDE (Robert Irvine Fitzhenry) 
(Gage Hayword Love) 
(Don Fisher) 
 HARRIS STEEL GROUP (Milton Harris) 
HERITAGE FROZEN FOODS  (Walter Makowecki) 
(Liz Claiborne) 
 (Harrison McCain)
PERDUE FARMS   (Frank Perdue) 
(Samuel Curtis Johnson) 
 TACO BELL (Glen W. Bell) 
TILDEN RENT-A-CAR CO. LTD  (Walter Tilden) 
 WARBURG AND CO. (Lionel Pincus) 
 WELDED TUBE CANADA LTD.  (Joseph Sonshine)



IV. Items Generally Excluded from this Bibliography

A. Annual Reports

          The information provided here applies only to paper annual reports and it is meant only to supplement the extensive guide to annual reports found on the C.B ‘Bud’ Johnston web site. We do go into some detail, however, because of the importance of these documents for business historians.

1. The Transfer of Catalogued  Printed Annual Reports of Corporations to the Johnston Library

          Over the years and, one supposes, for a variety of reasons the Western Libraries acquired many corporate annual reports (we are discussing here only those reports in paper format). These reports were typically scattered throughout the collections where they were likely to be found only by diligent researchers. In order to improve accessibility and to ensure that such reports were not discarded an attempt was made to identify them and to have them all placed together with other corporate annual reports in the Business Library (now the Johnston Library). This project was completed around the year 2000. (As this is being written (2012) a new building that will house the Johnston Library is under construction.  The annual reports are likely to be placed in storage. There is also an effort underway to digitize them. In any case, they will be available for research.)
          Most of the annual reports were from Canadian corporations, but some were from larger U.S. companies.  For historical researchers we provide here a very brief sample of some of the corporate reports that were transferred. To see what reports and what years are available, use the catalogue of the Western Libraries. Remember that the holdings refer only to the paper annual reports. There may be annual reports for other years in other formats (e.g., microform or electronic).

Bank of Nova Scotia
Bank of Montreal
Eastern Townships  Bank
Quebec & Levis Electric Light Company                          
Huron and Erie Mortgage Company   
Ingersoll and Port Burwell Road Company
United States Steel Corporation

2. Finding Corporate Annual Reports via the Catalogue of the Western Libraries

          Once all of the paper corporate annual reports were aggregated and arranged alphabetically a decision was made to make them accessible through the library catalogue. To locate specific corporate reports one can search using the Company Name as a Title.  To locate all of the corporate annual reports in this collection try this unorthodox method: search by Call Number and use this phrase –“Annual Report”. Rather than a typical Call Number, simply use the words “Annual Report”. When this method is employed you will find over 6000 individual company annual reports (as of 2012). This number refers only to paper/print annual reports and does not include thousands more that are found in micro or electronic format.

3. Sources for Corporate Annual Reports

          The Business Library has collected paper annual reports for many years and continues to try and get Canadian corporate reports in print form even though they are now often available electronically. Apart from the additional annual reports that were acquired by collections specialists in various disciplines, the Western Libraries often received them as gifts from individual donors. As well, the staff in the Johnston Library often sought collections that were offered by other libraries. Over the years we were fortunate to receive many annual reports from the Union Gas Library. As well, we took many corporate reports from the Innis Library at McMaster University and from the Turchin Library at the A.B. Freeman School of Business at Tulane.

4. Other Print Sources for Corporate Financial Information

a) Annual Financial Review: Canadian: A Carefully Revised Precis of Facts  Regarding Canadian Securities

          This annual cumulation of financial statements of the companies listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange was produced by the Assistant Secretary of the Exchange, W.R Houston. Since there was no index to the collection and no way of knowing what companies were covered for what years, the staff of the C.B. “Bud” Johnston Library indexed the entire collection from 1901 to 1941. For additional information about the publication and a list of all the companies that submitted statements and for which years, see the Johnston Library web site.

b)The Stockholders’ and Investors’ Annual

          Financial information for companies on the Toronto and Montreal Exchanges during a portion of the 1890s is available in this publication. The Western Libraries has the years from 1893/94 to 1898/99 on microfiche and one bound print volume for the years 1895/96.

c) The Financial Post Record of Prospectuses (1926-1928)

5. Additional Electronic Sources For Annual Reports

a) ProQuest Historical Annual Reports (HAR) – 1844

          This massive collection consists of over 45,000 digitized and searchable U.S. corporate reports dating from about the middle of the 19th century. Although this resource is primarily composed of information relating to almost a 1000 U.S corporations, it is not without Canadian content. Searching the database using words such as “Canada” or “Canadian” one learn a great deal about the operations of subsidiaries and branch plants in this country. As well, there are some annual reports for Canadian companies because, one surmises, those companies were listed on one of the U.S. exchanges. Examples include Inco, Seagram’s and Genstar.
          The useful search capabilities allow historians to search through the reports for economic, political and social information. For a good thorough description  of HAR and a useful search guide see the Johnston Library web site. 

b) Internet Sources for Corporate Annual Reports

          Annual corporate filings for Canadian and U.S. companies are available via SEDAR and EDGAR. For additional information about searching these sites see the Johnston Library site. A few early background articles are noted below along with the respective web sites.

SEDAR – (an acronym for System for Electronic Document and  Retrieval)

Flanagan, Daphne. “SEDAR”, Journal of Business and Finance Librarianship, Vol.4, No.4, 1999, p.37.

“SEDAR Offers Key Facts on Canadian Companies,” The Globe and Mail, Oct. 23, 1997, p. B23.

EDGAR (an acronym for Electronic Data Gathering and Retrieval)

Block, Sandra, “SEC’s Dull But Detailed EDGAR: On-Line Site Cumbersome, But a Wealth of Information,” USA Today, May 24, 1996.

Coffey, William J. “A Precocious Kid Named, “EDGAR” Reaches Adolescence,” The CPA Journal, Jan. 1994.

Markoff, John. “U.S. Shifts to a Freer Data Policy: Computer Network to Carry S.E.C. File,” The New York Times, Oct. 22, 1993.

          An obvious place to look for specific corporate reports in on the company web site where they are often found under the heading “Investor Relations”. There are also Investor Relations Organizations that also are useful and a few are mentioned here:

The Canadian Investor Relations Institute ­-
National Investor Relations Institute -
Investor Relations Society -

6. A Brief Bibliography on Annual Reports


The Johnston Library has compiled a lengthy bibliography of the books on the subject that are found in the Western Libraries.


The Johnston Library has also prepared a more specialized one on “Canadian Articles on Annual Reports” c.1975-1992) . It basically consists of all the articles relating to annual reports that were noted using the Canadian Business Periodicals Index.

Here are a few additional useful articles not found in the sources noted above:

Bernstein, Judith R. “Corporate Annual Reports: The Commercial Vendors – A Brief History and Current State of Affairs,” College and Research Libraries News, Vol. 47, March 1986.
This article mentions the Godfrey Memorial Library which supplied annual reports in micro format and which the Business Library (now the C.B. ‘Bud’ Johnston Library) purchased. For more details see the annual report section on the Johnston Library web site.  Also purchased were reports from another vendor discussed in the article – Disclosure.

Blanchard, Mark. “More Than a Great Big Data Dump,” The Globe and Mail, Oct. 20, 2004

Cronin-Kardon, Cynthia L. &  Mark Halperin, “Annual Reports: Preserving and Disseminating a Source for Business History,” The Acquisitions Librarian, Vol. 19, No.1/2, 2007

Flinn, John. “Investors Give Annual Reports High Marks,” The Globe and Mail, Sept. 6, 1995

Heinen, Margi. “Reference from Coast to Coast: The Hunt for Historical Annual Reports,” , Sept. 28, 2007.

Karp, Richard. “ Perennial Questions: The Debate About What to Include in Annual Reports Heats Up,” Barron’s, April 20, 1998

Kerr, Ann. “Bar Set Higher for Annual Reports,”  The Globe and Mail, Oct. 22, 2003.

Leder, Michelle. “Annual Reports Make Heavier Reading for Investors,” The New York Times, Sept. 14, 2003.

Lyle, Stanley P. “Archiving of Annual Reports on Fortune 500 Corporate Web Sites,” Journal of Business and Finance Librarianship, Vol. 10, No.1, 2004
“The purpose of this study was to determine the number of years of annual reports to shareholders available on the Web sites of Fortune 500 firms. The author examined all such sites between January 19 and February 15, 2003. About 33 percent of the Fortune firms provide access to five or more years, and about 77 percent provide access to at least two years. The greatest number of years provided by any company was 31, and the second greatest number was 20. The average number of years provided was 3.58.

McFarland, Janet. “What’s Black and White and Cheap: Annual Reports,” The Globe and Mail, Jan 9. 2006.

Murphy, George J. “ A Chronology of the Development of Corporate Financial Reporting in Canada: 1850-1983. 1986 (a working paper)

Murphy, George J. “The  Evolution of Selected Annual Corporate Financial Reporting Practices in Canada, 1900 -1970. 1988 (ARCC HF5681.B2M83 – this is based on the author’s dissertation)

Samuels, Patrice Duggan. “Annual Reports: Upfront and Unstarched – Finding the Importance of Being Earnest,” The New York Times, April 9, 1995.

Siwolop, Sani.”Annual Report Mantra: New! Improved!,” The New York Times, April 26, 1998.

Tinker, Tony & Marilyn Neimark.  “The Role of Annual Reports in Gender and Class Contradictions at General Motors, 1917-1976,” Accounting, Organizations and Society, Vol. 12, No.1, 1987

7. Art and Annual Reports

          As the Tinker entry above hints, one often will find more than numbers in printed annual reports. For two articles that discuss the art work contained in the reports issued by Power Financial see: “A Thousand Words: Canadian Companies Buck the Online Trend With Paper Reports that Make a Statement,” Nicolas Van Praet, The National Post, April 26, 2006 and “Power of Art Not Lost on Some Companies,” Konrad Yakabuski, The Globe and Mail, April 26, 2006. The annual report for 2005 contains artwork by Philip Surrey, Alex Colville and Jean Paul Lemieux. The cover consists of a self-portrait of Lilias Torrance Newton from the National Gallery (available in the Johnston Library collection).

          As an aside, corporations are sometimes collectors of art. For books relating to corporations and art see the entries in our bibliography for Canada Packers, Equitable Life, Philip Morris and the McCrory Corporation. For Canadian information see the thesis done at Western by Jonathan Bates – The Canadian Corporate Art Collection: The Hidden Museum and Robert Swain’s Hidden Values: Contemporary Canadian Art  in Corporate Collections.  More generally see The Art and Mind of Victorian England: Paintings from the Forbes Magazine Collection and books relating to Malcolm Forbes.

8. Historical Collections at Other Libraries

          The C.B. “Bud” Johnston Library has contributed its holdings to a database developed at Purdue University which can be searched online. It contains listings for annual reports held at the following universities: Columbia, Cornell, Harvard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Purdue, Stanford,  U. of Alabama, U. of California-Berkeley, U. of Pennsylvania, U. of Western Ontario, Yale, and the Science/Industry/Business Library of New York Public Library. For more details about this collaborative effort see:  Judith M. Nixon, “Annual Reports to Shareholders: Historical Collections in Libraries,” College & Research Libraries, Vol. 71, No. 6, Nov. 2010. A copy of this article is also accessible by searching the Purdue University Libraries.

          There are other collections housed in university libraries and there is an especially large one at Harvard. Details are available on the Baker Library web site: see “Historical Collections” where it is indicated that they have documents relating to over 20,000 companies. In Canada, we are aware of notable collections at the following locations and there may be more: The Howard Ross Library at McGill; The Stauffer Library at Queen’s; The Albert D. Cohen Library at Manitoba and The David Lam Library at UBC. At the present time (2011) there is no national collection for Canada such as the one provided by ProQuest for the U.S. There are several digitization projects underway so it should be possible in a few years to access more historical annual reports by electronic means.

B. Company Magazines

          Over the years and along the way as we searched and shelved in the collections of the Western Libraries we occasionally found some periodicals and publications produced by corporations. That we did so even occasionally was somewhat of a surprise since academic libraries do not often collect them and even less frequently keep them. Once we did find them and undertook a more disciplined search we discovered that they are not easily found as a genre. The official subject heading, “House Organs”, leads you to a few books about them, but not to the company magazines themselves.  We typically only found them once we found a company history and pursued the company in more detail.  We will here do two things: 1) List the company magazines we found in the Western Libraries and 2) provide some bibliographic details that will assist those who are interested in learning more about ‘house organs’.

          The periodicals we found (and others certainly exist in the collections) are listed here by company and publication name. Those familiar with magazines are generally familiar with title changes, which are not noted below, but which are, along with the dates, in the catalogued record.

Company: Magazine: 
Business Review 
Monthly Review 
Canadian Pacific Spanner
 DENNISON MANUFACTURING Dennison’s Party Magazine 
 DOFASCO  Dofasco Illustrated News
General Electric Forum
General Electric Review 
Guaranty Survey 
News from Home 
IMPERIAL OIL  Imperial Oil Review 
Publications (use call # HC 10.I7)
Massey’s Illustrated 
 NEW YORK TRUST   The Index (use call # HC 10.I5)
Price Waterhouse Review 
 ROYAL BANK Royal Bank Magazine 
 WESTINGHOUSE   Westinghouse Engineer

          Company magazines are and were published for a variety of reasons ranging from educational purposes to purely promotional ones. In some cases they were little more than product brochures (still useful for the company historian – especially for pictures and images), while in others they covered larger political, economic and social issues. We note in the bibliography, for example, that the Home Insurance magazine, News from Home, had an article that related to attitudes toward women and we provided a scanned copy of that piece. Broader issues were hinted at in the title of this 1918 article in the Irving National Bank publication – “Broadening the Vision of the American Business Man”.Party Magazine

                Some of them show up for sale on commercial web sites, sought by collectors and for other reasons. Dennison (noted above) produced paper products and one fan of their magazine noted  “What a thrill to read the ideas and suggestions they provide for planning and decorating for vintage holidays such as Halloween and Thanksgiving. Their ideas are very reminiscent of how many families still lived in the late 40's and early 50's.”

          There were also company magazines that were intended simply for the employees. The Kresge News during the 1940s served to keep employees aware of colleagues who had gone off to fight in World War II. In 1925 the National Industrial Conference Board estimated there were over 350 such publications. In 1953, they produced another study which is available in our collection. See: Employee Magazines and Newspapers.

          Some of the general interest company magazines were widely circulated to huge audiences. According to Riley, the circulation of Philip Morris Magazine  was reportedly “greater than that of Time, Newsweek, U.S. News & World Report, and The Wall Street Journal combined.” (see: Corporate Magazines of the United States,, ed. by Sam G. Riley).  Canadians are very familiar with a popular company magazine – The Beaver - which was started in the 1920s by the Hudson Bay Company (the magazine was acquired by Canada’s National Historical Society and is now called Canada’s History).

          Although Canada had a popular company magazine in The Beaver, we have not found much specifically about Canadian “house organs”.  In 1940 William L. Craig, an undergraduate student at the Business School  here at the University of Western Ontario  wrote a short B.A. thesis called Company Publications. In it he discusses the characteristics of such publications, how frequently they were  issued  and the processes used to produce them.  In a long appendix, he provides some useful information about almost 100 company magazines published in Canada around 1940. This thesis is available in the collection of the Western Libraries.

          About ten years later an article about company magazines in Canadian Business, called them “Canada’s Most Influential Publications”. The article begins this way: “Issuing from editorial offices which may be cubbyholes in the tool room to luxurious suites in the executive quarters, are more than 300 of what should be, and probably are, Canada’s most influential papers.”  The author concludes that: “In spite of reconversion from wartime to peacetime activities which has resulted in the disappearance of some of these publications – as well as the appearance of some new ones – most recent studies indicate that the combined circulation of Canadian house organs exceeds the astonishing figure of 2, 250,000. Corresponding figures from the United States show 6000 periodicals of this kind with a total circulation of 50 million.” (The article: “Canada’s Most Influential Publications,” by B.J. McGuire appeared in Canadian Business. Unfortunately we neglected to record the date for this article, but it appears to have been written in the late 1940s or early 1950s.)

          For those seeking more information about company magazines we offer the following sources.  One can start with Corporate Magazines of the United States,, ed. By Sam G. Riley which offers very detailed profiles for 52 such publications and short descriptions of 232 more. See also: Griffiths, John. “Exploring Corporate Culture: The Potential of Company Magazines for Business Historians,” Business Archives: Sources and History, Vol. 78, 1999, pp.27-37.  In 1950, the Baker Library at Harvard displayed many of the company publications in their holdings and the result is House Organs which is available in the Western Libraries In 2008 the journal Management and Organizational History, devoted an entire issue to the subject and most of the articles are listed here:

Heller, Michael. “Company Magazines 1880-1940: An Overview,”, Management and Organizational History, August/November 2008 vol. 3 no. 3-4 pp.179-196

Esbester, Mike. “Organizing Work: Company Magazines and the Discipline of Safety, “ Management and Organizational History, Aug./Nov. 2008, 3, p.217

Simons, Phillips. “Chemists to the Nation: House Magazines, Locality and Health at Boots the Chemists, 1919-1939, Management and Organizational History, Aug./Nov. 2008, 3,p. 239

Howard Cox. “Shaping a Corporate Identity from Below: The Role of the BAT Bulletin, Management & Organizational History August/November 2008 3: pp.197-215.

For U.S. examples see:

Rees, Jonathan, “Employee Publications and Employee Representation Plans: The Case of Colorado Fuel and Iron, 1915-1942,” Management and Organizational History, Aug./Nov. 2008, 3, p.257

Bart, Dredge. “Company Magazines and the Creation of Industrial Cooperation: A Case Study from the Southern Textile Industry, 1880-1940, Management and Organizational History, Aug./Nov. 2008, 3, p.273

          When the call for these papers went out, here were some of the suggested guidelines which can serve to show how company magazines can be studied:

Submitted papers might consider, but are not limited to, the following issues:

  • company journals as part of a wide-ranging system of "soft" supervision which facilitate the internalization of corporate control mechanisms by employees
  • the changing uses of mediated communication (magazines, bulletins, newspapers) by organizations in an attempt to foster and manipulate organizational culture
  • how magazines have been used by organizations over time to negotiate their internal and external boundaries in order to manage their relationships with various stakeholder groups
  • the position of company magazines within the debate of the "crisis of control" in the nineteenth- and twentieth-century corporation
  • company journals as a response to the challenges of growth of industries in scale and scope
  • company journals as a source for historians and management theorists for the study of issues of power, control and legitimacy within organizations
  • company journals as an important part of organizational design and corporate modes of self-representation
  • magazines and journals as a medium for the creation of a "corporate soul" (Roland Marchand)

As we noted above, we have not found many articles on the subject that treat Canadian company organs.

      The future historian may have more luck locating company magazines if major digitization efforts continue.  DuPont MagazineSome of the magazines published by Massey Harris, noted above, have been digitized and are available at Early Canadiana Online (  The business history site – Hagley Digital Archives ( – offers digital copies of Du Pont Magazine which is where we found this image.

C.  A Note About CIHM

          The subject of digitization leads us to a discussion about the Canadian Institute for Historical Microreproductions and the relation of that massive collection to our efforts to collect the company historical information in the Western Libraries. Thousands of CIHM documents are found on microfiche in the D.B. Weldon Library and many relate to early Canadian companies.  Those documents, however, are not found in our bibliography for two reasons: 1) there was no systematic way to filter out company documents or, more specifically, those that offered corporate histories; 2) it is now expected that the CIHM documents will all be digitized and the process is under way at Early Canadiana Online. For those reasons we have not attempted to scrutinize further the CIHM microfiche.

          Evidence that the CIHM collection is a rich one for business historians will be provided below. Apart from searching the CIHM microfiche collection for specific companies, one should also be aware of the digitization efforts underway at ECO and search their site: ( . Here are sample company-related CIHM records harvested from the catalogue of the Western Libraries:


Record 1 of 10
AUTHOR       W.H. Malkin Company.
TITLE        Twenty-five years of service, 1895-1920 [microform] :
               commemorating the twenty-fifth anniversary of the founding of
               the W.H. Malkin Company Limited, wholesale grocers and
               importers, tea blenders and coffee roasters, Vancouver, British
IMPRINT      [Vancouver? : The Company?, 1920?] (Vancouver : R.P. Latta)
CALL #       F1003.C5  no. 75503.

Record 2 of 10
AUTHOR       Massey-Harris Company.
TITLE        Massey-Harris [microform] : an historical sketch, 1847-1920 /
               Massey-Harris Company, Ltd.
IMPRINT      Toronto : Massey-Harris Press, 1920.
CALL #       F1003.C5  no. 86915.

Record 3 of 10
AUTHOR       Sydney E. Junkins Company.
TITLE        The Sydney E. Junkins Company Ltd., Winnipeg, Vancouver
IMPRINT      [Canada? : s.n., 1920?]
CALL #       F1003.C5  no. 81411.

Record 4 of 10
AUTHOR       Spanish River Pulp and Paper Mills (Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.)
TITLE        The Soo [microform] : a few facts and photographs which briefly
               tell the story of the Company which produced the greatest
               amount of newsprint paper in the Dominion of Canada.
IMPRINT      [Sault Ste. Marie, Ont? : S.n., 1920?]
CALL #       F1003.C5  no. 87369.

Record 5 of 10
AUTHOR       Federal Zinc and Lead Company.
TITLE        The facts about Federal [microform].
IMPRINT      Montreal : Federal Zinc and Lead Co., [ca. 1919]
CALL #       F1003.C5  no. 72804.

Record 6 of 10
AUTHOR       International Nickel Company of Canada.
TITLE        The mining and smelting operations of the International Nickel
               Company of Canada, Limited [microform] / written by the staff.
IMPRINT      [Toronto? : s.n., 1920?]
CALL #       F1003.C5  no. 87543.

Record 7 of 10
AUTHOR       Canada. Parliament. House of Commons.
TITLE        Bill [electronic resource] : an act respecting the Ontario Mutual
               Life Assurance Company, and to change its name to "The Mutual
               Life Assurance Company of Canada".
IMPRINT      Ottawa : S.E. Dawson, 1900.
Record 8 of 10
AUTHOR       Mutual Life Assurance Company of Canada.
TITLE        An epic of progress : [the story of the Mutual Life Assurance
               Company of Canada] / The Mutual Life Assurance Company of
IMPRINT      Waterloo, Ont. : The Company, [1951?].
CALL #       HG9011.Z9M87.

Record 9 of 10
AUTHOR       Vancouver Magnetite Iron and Steel Smelting Company.
TITLE        Iron and steel industry for Greater Vancouver [microform] /
               Vancouver Magnetite Iron and Steel Smelting Company.
IMPRINT      [Vancouver? : s.n., 1919?]
CALL #       F1003.C5  no. 81444.

Record 10 of 10
TITLE        Semi-centenary of the J.H. Ashdown Hardware Co., Limited,
               Calgary, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, established 1869 [microform] /
               [compiled and printed by the J.H. Ashdown Hardware Company
               Limited, Catalogue and Printing Dept.].
IMPRINT      [Winnipeg : J.H. Ashdown Co., 1919]
CALL #       F1003.C5  no. 87180.

D.  A Note About ARCC

          The Western Libraries Archives are known as “The Archives and Research Collections Centre” and some of its collections relate to company and business records. Although some books and items found in the ARCC are mentioned throughout this bibliography, there was no systematic attempt to include the company-related records found in the Archives. Apart from the very large collections – Canadian Tire Heritage Collection and the Labatt Brewing Company Collection – a quick browse through the ARCC Finding Aids revealed others –e.g. London Carriage Factory; Rowland Hill and J. Roberts Holmes.

E.  A Note About Business History

          The 1992 edition of Business and History at Western included a substantial bibliography related to the general subject of business history. That component of the original publication remains very useful, but has not been updated. Our focus since 1992 has been on adding books about companies and information about corporations.
          While ‘business history’ per se is still not a prescribed subject heading, books and articles about the subject are now easier to find. We will provide here three good examples with the reminder again that we have not been updating the subject in this publication. For a good general reference see: The Oxford Handbook of Business History. Two very good journals are available (in print and online) and two recent articles from them are: “Business History: Time for Debate,” in Business History Review, Vol.85, No.1, 2011 and “Varieties of Business History: Subject and Methods for the 21st Century,” Christopher Kobrak and Andrea Schneider, Business History, Vol. 53, No.3, 2011.

V. Additional Resources:

          Over 20 years ago this enterprise began as a simple task which was to find and list all the company history books found in the Western Libraries. Having expanded far beyond that purpose, we are reluctant to extend our efforts into the ether of the internet, particularly since we have noticed that objects found there are often rather ethereal. There are few things more irritating than broken links and the term that is now used to describe the situation – “link rot” – is an apt one. While it is easy to understand why company links disappear, since the companies often do, we have been surprised that so many academic and scholarly sites cease to exist or go into hiding.  In the bibliography we generally limited the links or attempted to harvest the information if we knew they were going to go (see Montgomery Ward, e.g.). Here we will offer just a few examples that we hope are stable and offer some suggestions about an approach to searching rather than providing links.

A. Academic/ Scholarly Web Resources

Business History Conference 
          This is a very good place to begin your search for resources since it provides links to many of the most important business history web sites.  It is interesting that on the BHC home page there is a tribute to the BHC’s first president, Richard C. Overton.  Close readers of this bibliography will have noted that we also acknowledged the importance of  Mr. Overton and here is what we wrote back in 1992 when this project began: “We also have many, many books in the Library System that relate to railroads which "...represented the cutting edge of big business in nineteenth century America." (see American Business History: Case Studies, p.179). For those books Western owes a debt of gratitude to Professor R.C. Overton, a former member of the History Department and accomplished scholar in the field of Business History. Professor Overton died in 1988 and an obituary outlining his many accomplishments can be found in Western News on the 17th of November of that year. For an example of his influence, consult the dissertation in this bibliography by Nina Edwards, for whom Overton acted as an advisor: (The Bookkeeping Records and Methods of E.I. Du Pont de Nemours and Company...).”

Society of American Archivists – Directory of Corporate Archives in the United States and Canada
This is the place to look for corporate records.

Society for Industrial Archeology

Baker Library/Bloomberg Center

The Business History Unit – London School of Economics and Political Science

Centre for Business History in Scotland – University of Glasgow

The Centre for International Business History – Henley Business School

European Business History Association

B. City Collections

          Those researching the history of a company will often find considerable information in the university or public libraries in the region where the company was established.  Here are three good examples:

Hamilton Ontario:
“Industrial Hamilton: A Trail to the Future”

Chicago Public Library: “Dictionary of Leading Chicago Businesses (1820-2000) in Encyclopedia of Chicago

University of Cincinnati: Cincinnati Company Histories

C.  Specialist Sites

          These are rather difficult to classify, but are sometimes found when searching for information about a company or an industry.  From these two Canadian examples you will learn how extensive they can be.

All-Time List of Canadian Transit Systems –David A. Wyatt

The Railway Rolling Stock Industry in Canada – Andrew Merrilees

D.  Company Sites With Good Historical Content

          We confess here that corporations cannot typically be said to offer-up huge portions of their web sites for historical matters. Often it is the case that, even if they do, the history section is not easily found. Here are examples of companies that do provide solid historical background and we hope both the companies and the web sites stay around. (2012)

Aetna-  look under “Investor Information” – “Corporate Profile”
Becton/Dickinson – see “About BD”
Campbell’s Soup – also provides a history of Pepperidge Farm
Canadian Pacific
Firestone –look under the various divisions and also under Bridgestone
General Mills – one of the best;  information about the archives and a history blog
Jack Daniels
Johnson & Johnson
Levi Strauss & Co.
Texas Instruments
Union Pacific
Wells Fargo – also includes information about their 9 history museums

VI. Acknowledgements:

          In the 1992 edition of Business and History at Western several people are mentioned and to that list we now add the following: 1) The many part-time students who were conscripted and worked very hard in the evenings and on the weekends; 2) Laura Veronese who was seconded as a student and then badgered as an employee to cut and paste and scan and correct long lists and texts. Apart from hard labour, she also contributed useful technical support and helped us all keep abreast of the latest technological developments. 

Johnston Library Staff
February 2012.