Business History Explorer

A bibliography of UK business and industrial history

The BAC is delighted to relaunch the Business History Explorer as a free access database. Up until now, it has been available only by annual subscription. You can access the database by following this link:

Launched in November 2023, the Business History Explorer (BHE) was developed by John Orbell and Richard Storey as an online bibliography for locating publications relating to the history of specific businesses and industries operating in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. It also covers the international activities of those businesses, especially in former British dominions, India and colonies, and in Europe, North America, Latin America, China, Japan and elsewhere.

The objective of BHE is to enable users to locate historical information about a particular business organisation. The bibliography holds data on around 40,000 monographs, periodical articles, chapters in multi-author works, theses and unpublished essays and manuscripts. In addition it includes corporate and marketing brochures and employee handbooks which give a snapshot of a business at a point in its history. Product literature, including trade catalogues, is included on a highly selective basis.  

BHE focuses especially on privately printed and other hard-to-find histories, a huge number of which have been published by UK businesses for their corporate use and have not always found their way into the collections of leading UK or overseas libraries.

BHE is far more than just a bibliography. It adds substantial value by enabling the search for publications by name of city, town, local authority, county and country and by business sector and sub sector. There is a short potted history for each business giving vital information such as name changes, dates of formation and closure; mergers and acquisitions; and products and services.

The BAC has been supportive of BHE by funding the development of the online application. In 2024, BHE was transferred to the BAC who will ensure the databases legacy.

Business History Explorer News Update December 2015

Business History Explorer News Update March 2015

Business History Explorer News Update September 2014