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Firm archives and histories

The ICAEW Library & Information Service holds a collection of resources that can be used to trace the history of a firm, including firms’ family trees, published histories and information on archival material held by the firms.

Firms’ family trees

Between January and December 1989, the respected accounting historian Peter Boys prepared a series of simplified family trees showing the development of the big accountancy firms of the day. The series is a key resource for accounting historians grappling with the tangled history of mergers and de-mergers in the accountancy sector.

The original 1989 trees have been reproduced on this website along with a series of textual updates from Peter Boys which brought the story forward to May 2005, the 125th anniversary of ICAEW. Since then, the staff of the ICAEW Library & Information Service have added notes on further changes that have taken place.

Published histories

The Library & Information Service holds around 140 articles and books on the history of accountancy firms big and small.

Survey of firm archives

The ICAEW conducted an archive survey of member firms in 1991-1992 with the intention of locating and listing the archives (records out of business use) of a selection of member firms practising in England and Wales.

The results of the survey were published in Chartered accountants in England and Wales- a guide to historical records (ed. Wendy Habgood, Manchester University Press, 1994) and included entries for 182 firms, with each entry providing a brief history, details of surviving records and the location of the records at the time of publication. The location of some records identified in the survey have since been updated in the National Register of Archives.

If you are interested in finding out more about the survey results please contact the enquiry team by telephone on +44 (0)20 7920 8620 or by email at library@icaew.com

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