Corporate archives needs assessment for Southern California Edison
In late 2004 Southern California Edison (SCE) decided to expand on its existing long-term relationship with the Henry E. Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens in San Marino by donating a century of its photographs and historical print records “ a sizable business archives. But first, they needed to determine what of these corporate archives had enduring value and should be preserved.
SCE engaged History Associates to conduct a needs assessment to review the current status of the company’s photographic and print materials, as well as its records-keeping practices, and to prepare a report of the findings with recommendations outlining the steps to manage its historical materials.
Based on the recommendations in the needs assessment, History Associates prepared the historical business archives for transfer to the Huntington Library and consulted with SCE’s legal staff to ensure that the company’s rights were protected in the donation deed of gift. Prior to finalizing the donation, SCE had History Associates complete the archival processing of the print materials collection and develop a collection finding aid.
Corporate Archives with Added Value
In the course of processing the print materials collection, History Associates staff identified sensitive documents and flagged them for legal review. As a result of this project, SCE has ensured that its corporate archives — including tens of thousands of high quality images and print records documenting the development of Southern California — are preserved and accessible to researchers.
SCE’s generous donation provides the company with the public relations benefit of making its history more broadly accessible to the research community, while also resulting in cost savings by shifting the cost of ongoing collections maintenance to the Huntington Library. According to Thomas Taylor, SCE’s manager of biological and archaeological resources, “Edison people played a significant part in the history of Southern California, a role Edison employees are justly proud of. This history is captured in these photographs and print records, and the donation of this collection with the help of HAI to the Huntington Library insures that the collection is well taken care of and is made available to historic scholars.”
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