The example shown here from An illustrated account of Halifax, Brighouse and district shows the entry for Messrs R Whiteley and Son, hat and cap makers, of the Corn Market in Halifax and lists four generations of the family who have been involved in the business from its foundation by Joseph Whiteley in 1746 to his great grandson Frederick.The project will later broaden to include other rare or valuable sources for the history of British businessmen and women.
These records were provided by the Society of Genealogists.
This project is an index to British shopkeepers, businessmen and women, "captains of industry" and their companies. The initial source material is a series of books published in the 1890s by the London Printing and Engraving Company and the Brighton firm of Robinson, Son and Pike which later became W T Pike.
They seem to have traveled to large towns and cities all over the British Isles, offering the local corporation and businesses the opportunity to appear in a book containing a history of the area, its attractions, major institutions and its commercial life. There are sometimes details of town councillors, often with vignette-sized photographs and one has a picture of the local football team! Shops, businesses and manufacturers probably had to pay for inclusion, the amount depending on the size of the entry. The proprietor or manager seems to have been visited at work and interviewed to provide the copy for the book.
Trade directories only contain a bare listing of local businesses but those included in these books have a minimum of a paragraph about each shop or company, often showing a photograph of it or the proprietor and there are frequently details of when and from whom the business was acquired (often a named relative).
Family members working in the business are usually listed and, if a person is prominent in local society, the entry often mentions membership of the corporation and leisure activities including involvement with clubs, charities and other institutions. This kind of information tells a lot about an individual's character and is extremely difficult to find elsewhere in such a comprehensive form. The illustrations are photographs of people and places which were taken for the purpose or acquired from local sources and often include line drawings of products sold by the business.