The first guide to publicly-traded companies in the U.S., Moody's Manual of Industrial and Miscellaneous Securities was published in 1900. Moody's (now Mergent Online Millsaps Restricted) has continued to publish sector-focused annual directories to the present day. Entries include histories as well as annual financial data and news for each company. Collectively the manuals provide a year by year financial and historical record for public companies in the U.S. The library also has the old printed volumes, Moody's bank and finance manual -- Library Reference Room --HG4961 .M65, Moody's OTC industrial manual -- Library 1 West -- HG4961 .M7237, Moody's industrial manual -- Library Reference Room -- HG4961 .M67, Moody's public utility manual -- Library Reference Room -- HG4961 .M7245, and Moody's transportation manual -- Library Reference Room -- HG4971 .M74.
Individual Company Histories
International directory of company histories -- Library Reference Room -- HD2721 .D36
3-5 page histories of thousands of companies worldwide in over a hundred volumes. Volumes 1-6 organized alphabetically by major industry; volume 7 and subsequent volumes arranged alphabetically by company name within each volume.
- A substantial number of entries from the International Directory of Company Histories have been made available via
- To find books and other materials on the history of a specific corporation, search the Millsaps Library Catalog using SUBJECT and enter the name of the company. For example
FORD MOTOR COMPANY HISTORY
- Studies in Enterprise: A Selected Bibliography of American and Canadian Company Histories and Biographies of Businessmen
- Lorna M. Daniells. Boston, Baker Library, 1957.
- Daniells' pioneering bibliography of books and pamphlets about companies and individuals. Entries arranged by SIC (Standard Industrial Classification) codes and then by company or personal name. Includes a separate listing for Canadian companies.
For companies (especially "dot coms") that have failed in recent years (including the TheStandard.com and its FlopTracker), look at the list of Dot-Com Layoffs and Shutdowns compiled by the Wall Street Journal in 2001.
You can browse the News archives of the Troubled Company Reporter for news items older than 90 days; access to current news require a subscription.
Corporate Annual Reports
As mandated by Section 13 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, publicly traded companies must file annual reports with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. This "official" annual report is known as the "10K."
While 10Ks primarily contain detailed financial information about the company, they are also required to include information such as any legal proceedings in which the company is involved, a management discussion, and information on executive compensation.
- 1996-present: EDGAR
Annual Reports to Shareholders
Public companies are generally required to provide annual reports to their shareholders in preparation for their annual meeting. In the 19th century, the annual report was usually a letter to stockholders followed by a financial statement. This has evolved into a "State of the Company" report including a statement from the CEO, a report on continuing operations, plans for new products, programs, and activities, market data, and research and development activities. It also includes financial data, although in general this is less detailed than the data obtainable in the 10K.
Annual reports are valuable historical records. They are the "public face" of corporations; they reflect what a company at a specific point in time wanted the general public to know about them.
- Most recent 10 years: Mergent Online
- Historical Corporate Reports
- A growing collection of digitized annual reports from U.S. companies covering the period 1800 through 1955. Browse or search by company name, industry, year, or words in text. A project of the Lippincott Library at the University of Pennsylvania.
- Directory of Corporate Archives in the United States and Canada
- Society of American Archivists. Business Archives Section.
- Arranged by company name. Each entry includes address, contact information, hours of service, conditions of access, and brief description of archive contents. Based on the 5th (1997) edition; updated on an ongoing basis.
BANKING UNITED STATES HISTORY
RAILROADS UNITED STATES HISTORY
DEPARTMENT STORES UNITED STATES HISTORY
Or browse the following broad subject areas:
Business Enterprises United States History
United States Economic conditions 1918-1945
United States Social conditions 1933-1945
United States Economic conditions 1918-1945.
Industries United States History 20th century.
Corporations United States History
Labor United States History 20th century.
United States Commerce History 20th century.
Finance United States History 20th century.
United States Economic conditions 1945-
United States Commerce History
Agriculture Economic Aspects United States History
Big Business United States History
Finance United States History
Industrial Management United States History
Industrial Organization United States History
Businesspeople United States Biography
Businesspeople United States History
Businessmen United States Biography
Businesswomen United States Biography
Capitalists and Financers United States Biography
Executives United States Biography
Women Executives United States Biography
Merchants United States Biography
Bankers United States Biography
Handbook of American business history -- Library Reference Room -- C103 .H19 1990
Value Line Investment Survey
Frequently updated reports on 1700 publicly-traded companies arranged by industry. Each industry section preceded by a one-page analysis of that industry. Currently covers over 100 industries.
Encyclopedia of American Business History and Biography
9-volume series on major segments of American industry:
Banking and finance to 1913 -- Library Reference Room -- HG2461 .B33 1990
Banking and finance 1913-1989 -- Library Reference Room -- HG2481 .B325 1990
The Airline industry -- Library Reference Room -- HD9711 .A57 1992
Iron and steel in the twentieth century -- Library Reference Room -- HD9515 .I77 1994
The Automobile industry, 1896-1920 -- Library Reference Room -- HD9710.U52 A815 1990
The Automobile industry, 1930-1980 -- Library Reference Room -- HD9710.U52 A816 1989
Iron and steel in the nineteenth century -- Library Reference Room -- HD9515 .I76 1989
Railroads in the nineteenth century -- Library Reference Room -- HE2751 .R1433 1988
Railroads in the age of regulation, 1900-1980 -- Library Reference Room -- HE2751 .R143 1988