Piles of materials without a formal archival process forced Edward Jones into a trademark issue when, in 2004, they had planned to run an advertising campaign intended to reference and reinforce their heritage. It was in the 11th hour when their legal counsel issued a strong word of warning: if you can’t prove it, you can’t use it. Hopeful that they could salvage the campaign, Edward Jones reached out to The History Factory to conduct research and uncover necessary documents.
In early 2006, working with the organization’s librarian, The History Factory’s archives team packed up 18 boxes of materials that had previously been sitting on folding tables—with some documents in various stages of use. Once in-house, the team began an industry-standard process to organize, deeply describe and create a fully-searchable database for the materials. This included ensuring a thorough digitization of Uptick, Edward Jones’ internal newsletter instituted in 1978, which was considered a mission critical resource for organizational reference.
While in the midst of completing the archival process, The History Factory’s archives team received a materials request from Edward Jones’ librarian. After experiencing the efficiency of the archival request and receipt process, she successfully lobbied for The History Factory to retain and manage the archives. Although the materials are no longer housed in the Edward Jones’ corporate offices, the teams who previously needed materials request and receive them in a matter of hours, rather than days.
With archives in place, the firm then referenced and showcased artifacts during company roadshows, when Managing Partners visited states and towns housing broker offices. The historic items and documents, which were previously collected from these same locations, gave greater context to the organization’s impact in the local community.
In addition, having a formal archival program in place meant having a greater understanding of and access to heritage items that could be used to create a more thorough corporate heritage exhibit for the St. Louis-based headquarters. Among the many items used were the papers of Edward D Jones (founder) and his son and former managing partner Edward T. Jones, Jr. as well as corporate artifacts. Showcasing these items allowed the firm to underscore a number of subtle messages: the founder’s vision, growth aspirations, company success and a tie to beloved community events.