research question for journalists & historians
February 11, 2023 7:43 PM   Subscribe

How can I find out the name of the owner of a business that existed in the 1960s but no longer does?

Say I want to know who owned/managed/operated "ABC Book Shop" in "XYZ City" from when it opened in 1962 until when it closed in 1980.

Is there a certain database I should use? Do municipal archives have this information?
posted by CancerSucks to Grab Bag (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite might have articles about the store that mention who ran it.
posted by brujita at 9:07 PM on February 11

If the town the business was located in has a Facebook group dedicated to local history, it might actually be worth asking the question there. I'm always astounded by the seemingly obscure facts the people in my city's "Historical" Facebook group know about who owned what business or who lived in which house.
posted by VirginiaPlain at 9:28 PM on February 11

I was also thinking maybe local newspaper archives, especially if it was a place where they had to print a fictitious business name / "doing business as" notice for some period of time when opening. Looking up the right terminology for those led me to see that in the US at least, the Secretary of State for a given state or the county clerk / recorder / assessor often also has to be notified. So maybe one of those types of offices if their records went back far enough?
posted by sigmagalator at 9:50 PM on February 11

Best answer: The beginning of that date range might have a city directory listing the owner of the business.
posted by clew at 10:52 PM on February 11 [3 favorites]

Check state court records. Contact city clerk to see how far back their business license records go. Contact county clerk to see how far back their incorporation records go. Keep digging, it's out there somewhere.
posted by charlesminus at 7:24 AM on February 12

Yeah, newspapers, city directories, and incorporation records are all good options. I would start with the local public library and/or city/county clerk. If they don't have what you need, they may refer you to the state archives.
posted by toastedcheese at 8:11 AM on February 12

Property tax assessor records—Los Angeles County portal, for example.
posted by Ideefixe at 10:29 AM on February 12

« Older Under this agreement, I determine what words mean   |   Japan's Appetite for Adaptation Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments