The Reynolds Business History Center at the Virginia Historical Society
About the RBHC
Despite Virginia's origins as a commercial venture, until 2001 there was no central repository to document the state's four-hundred year business history and no organization actively collecting business records. That year, the Virginia Historical Society (VHS), with generous funding from the Richard S. Reynolds Foundation and Alcoa, filled that void with the creation of the Reynolds Business History Center (RBHC).
The RBHC has a two-fold mission. The first component is collecting. The RBHC seeks to acquire company records from important and representative businesses from around the commonwealth. Collections are not limited to paper records but also include oral history tapes and transcripts, artifacts, and electronic communication. These collections are professionally processed, cataloged, preserved, and made available to scholars at the VHS headquarters in Richmond, which has a long history as a research library. The holdings of the RBHC currently include more than one hundred collections, including such significant Virginia companies as Branch and Company, Best Products, James River Corporation, Lane Furniture, Reynolds Metals, and A. H. Robins Pharmaceuticals.
The second component of the RBHC is programming. The VHS seeks to create programs for a number of constituencies: scholars, businesspeople, students, and the general public. The broadest program is the long-term exhibition Virginians at Work, which demonstrates in an accessible way how changes in business and the economy have affected how Virginians have worked for 400 years. Other programs include scholarly symposia on business history topics, seminars in which business leaders reflect on their careers, oral history initiatives to target specific industries or areas, and travel opportunities to visit significant sites associated with Virginia's business history.