The Centre for Business History was founded in 1974. The mission that was set back then, to preserve and present business history, guides our activities to this day.
In 1974, the Stockholm City Archive and the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce joined forces to save the artefacts and material of defunct businesses in Stockholm from being destroyed. They sought a way which also would involve the business sector itself as an active participant. The new assosciation was given the name Stockholms Företagsminnen (loosely translated as “Stockholm Corporate Memories”) and a mission to both preserve and present business history.
During its first years, the association was a very small organization. Its archive materials were kept at the CIty Archives while the Chamber of Commerce managed its administration.
In 1979, however, the Stockholm City Council decided to dramatically increase its financial support to the association. It could now hire its first own head of archives, Inger Ljunggren. That same fall, the association also moved into its own facilities.
Over the next years, the market for business archives and documentation services saw general growth. In turn, the association saw that as a chance to access still active companies, in addition to managing ownerless archives. Still active businesses ought to be keen on preserving their own history and depose their historical materials with the association. The surplus from these more commercial activities could then also go to the historical activities of the association. So to that end, the association formed a subsidiary, Stockholms Företagsarkiv (loosely, “Stockholm Corporate Archives”), which would offer commercial archive services.
The new corporation Stockholms Företagsarkiv grew rapidly. But in 1990 the financial situation was getting problematic. The downturn in financial markets made city councils cut down on funding and competition on the archive market was getting fierce. Then, in 1996, Stockholms Företagsarkiv was struck with a devestating blow, as government support for wage-subsidized employment almost disappeared. The company had at the time 98 employees, of which almost 90% came with wage-subsidies from the state. The corporation Stockolms Företagsminnen was declared insolvent and practically all employees were laid off. On 10 April 1997, the company was declared bankrupt. However, the non-profit association Stockholms Företagsminnen, that had launched the commercial corporation and owned it, remained intact, albeit with almost no staff.
Once the most dire problems were solved, the association could however start expanding again. The historical archive material grew, employees could be rehired and new services were developed. The focus remained to make historical material more available to the companies themselves and their employees, but also to researchers, students and an interested general public.
As the association grew, the commercial activities could be re-launched, this time in a new subsidiary. At the same time, the company name Stockholm Corporate Memories was beginning to become a limitation. Many of the companies, whose historical archives were managed by the association, had nationwide and global activities. In 2006, the association therefore changed its name to today’s Centre for Business History in Stockholm. A new non-profit association was formed to carry the name Föreningen Stockholms Företagsminnen, (or Stockholm Corporate Memorie) and also the original mission of managing the ownerless archives for Stockholm businesses.
Since that day, the Centre for Business History has continued to expand. Read more about today’s activities here.
Read business historian Anders Johnson’s full article about the Centre for Business History (pdf in Swedish.)