Using digital sources: the future of business history?

Adam Nix, Stephanie D Decker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


As historians start researching the late twentieth century, they are increasingly finding traces of the past created digitally. At the same time, use of computers to digitise analogue material means that many pre-digital sources have been reproduced digitally. As such, future historical research will increasingly include digital forms of evidence and computer-based research tools. This article explores how such resources might be used within business history, bridging the gap to digital history, and reflecting upon their methodological implications. We present a framework for distinguishing between sources, elaborating their differing digital characteristics and historical authenticity. We then draw on our own use of digital company records and media archives to outline two different ways digital sources can be interrogated by business historians. We argue that digital sources afford unique insights and new opportunities for historical knowledge production, but to access them, business historians will likely adapt aspects of their future practice.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBusiness History
Early online date22 Apr 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Apr 2021


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