Don’t Know Much About ‘Corporate’ History: Historical Company Research

Many times the type of company information we are seeking is current. Current information can be easier to locate because new strategies and innovative business models are written about extensively in the news, business journals, and on the web. Researching a company’s history requires a slightly different strategy. Below are some resources to help you locate historical company information.

A good starting point is in the International Directory of Company Histories. This e-book (also available in print) covers 11,000 companies. Each concise company profile is between four and six pages long and covers statistics, dates and key players, as well as other important information like expansions and company strategies. The information is gathered from reliable sources such as academic journals, books, magazines, annual reports, and the company’s archives.

Pages from jc penney annual report

Annual Reports are a good source for historical company information. The Management Discussion & Analysis (MD&A) section of the annual report provides an overview of the previous year’s operations and often includes a discussion on future prospects like goals and strategies for the upcoming year. Annual reports are available in several subscription databases. Use our Business FAQ “Where can I find current and historical annual reports?” for access. Also, take a look at our previous post, Gimmie that Old Time Financial Statement for a detailed overview on finding annual reports.

Applied Science & Business Periodicals Retrospective (1913-1983) covers a wide range of historical trade journals (e.g. Journal of Retailing) and business magazines (e.g. BusinessWeek, Fortune, etc.). Search within this database by company name. For a company like J.C. Penney, whose name often appears differently, search for variations on the spelling/punctuation (e.g. j.c. penney OR j. c. penney OR penney stores OR penney, j.c. etc.). Continue reading

Announcing New Franklin, the Penn Libraries Catalog

FranklinOn Monday, July 29, the Penn Libraries is making available to the Penn community the new Franklin catalog, which replaces Classic Franklin, the Libraries’ catalog since the 1990s.

You will find that the new Franklin catalog offers many features not available in Classic Franklin, including easy browsing and limiting by format, location, and language; color-coded availability status; images of book covers; and RSS feeds and stable URLs to capture searches.  In the weeks ahead, work will continue on the catalog to fix bugs, further enhance its capabilities, and pave the way for future releases.

With the release of new Franklin, we move closer to achieving one of the Libraries’ strategic goals: the creation of a single search point for discovery services.  The architecture supporting the new catalog will eventually allow us to extend searching and content-delivery, support article-level searching through integration with subscription databases, and integrate both the holdings and delivery capabilities of our resource-sharing partners.

Classic Franklin will continue to be available for the time being; a link will appear on the Libraries’ homepage and in the bottom right-hand corner of all new Franklin screens.

To learn more about new Franklin, see the new Franklin User Guide