Histories Worth Preserving Forever
Updated: Aug 22, 2021
Ask scrapbookers and photographers why they document life, and the answers are many. Besides fun, joy and legacy building, there’s also credibility. Our past actions prove who we are and can predict our future actions–or provide motivations for change. Our histories are the currency of trust. Many corporations and organizations also preserve their histories. They are decision-making bellwethers. The question is: Are these histories worth safeguarding in perpetuity?
Beth Gibson Lilja, a longtime member, past-president and advocate of The Minnesota Federation of Business and Professional Women (MFBPW) is now engaged in an unusual project with them. Despite the organization’s rich 100-year history, it will cease to exist after its centennial celebration this May.
Nonetheless, the thousands of women who have enriched this organization believe its accomplishments and life are well worth preserving. So, Beth is now organizing and preserving MFBPW’s history in FOREVER®. The project will involve contacting past and present members of all Minnesota chapters, seeking photos, documents, videos, and memorabilia. Eventually, the organization’s rich history will be accessible on the organization’s FOREVER® account. “This project will offer us the opportunity not only to preserve the past, enrich the present but most importantly to inspire hope for the future generations of women to come after us”, says Beth.
Consider life in 1920: Women finally got the right to vote. It seems inconceivable now, but women went to jail protesting for that right. Ahhh, history—a wake-up call that prevents us from ever taking our lives for granted.
Such “ah-ha” moments flourish in corporate histories, too. Smart CEO’s know history is a chief ally through difficult times. A 2012 story in the Harvard Business Review , “Your Company’s History as a Leadership Tool,” focused on mining corporate histories. As John Seaman, Jr., and George David Smith, co-authors, said, “A sophisticated understanding of the past is one of the most powerful tools we have for shaping the future.”
They cite how employees feared a culture clash when Kraft Foods merged with Cadbury. But by studying the histories of both organizations, Kraft learned that their founders shared many beliefs. Kraft detailed those commonalities and assuaged employee fears.
Another example: General Mills. In 1878 an explosion destroyed its largest flour mill. The founder developed a far safer technique to mill four. Instead of seeking a patent, they gave that knowledge to all their competitors. The oft-repeated story documents General Mills commitment to safety for all—not just General Mills. That’s corporate history worth preserving.
Smaller organizations—from churches to arts organizations and so much more—can also benefit from preserving their histories. The critical issue is digital preservation that is safe, secure and financially sound. No surprise, then, that so many people—and now organizations—are turning to FOREVER® to preserve their histories, well, forever.
Your Companies History as a Leadership Tool
Corporate Collections: Preserve Your Past, Promote Your Legacy
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