Monday, January 12, 2015
Hidden Resource: Researching Local Businesses and Business Owners Using the Alabama Secretary of State’s Website
The other day, a patron requested information on the Memorial Mound in Bessemer. Not being familiar with this particular place, I checked the usual sources such as city directories and our newspaper clipping files. After coming up empty-handed, I turned to one of my favorite resources, the Alabama Secretary of State’s website, specifically the Government Records Inquiry database. While it may not sound exciting, this website is a wonderful way to research local businesses, business owners, or non-profits (churches, civic groups, etc.). Any entity that files for incorporation in Alabama is included in the database which provides the date of incorporation, names of officers, address, status (existing, dissolved, merged, etc.), and type of business. Sometimes businesses file annual reports which can be purchased, along with the papers of incorporation, from the Secretary of State. And did I mention that it’s free?
A quick search on Memorial Mound yielded all of the above information (btw, it was a cemetery). While not every entry is complete, it’s a great way to confirm the existence of a business and to get an approximate idea of its lifespan. You can also search for the names of the officers/incorporators. This is helpful for genealogists who know their ancestors were business owners but are unsure about the dates or names of the companies they built. The website doesn't give any information detailing how far back their records go, but I’ve seen entries from as early as the 1890s. Even if a business or non-profit’s original incorporation was not recorded, they can still be included if they merged or changed their name. For instance, a search for the Woodlawn Baptist Church reveals that they changed their name to Liberty Park Baptist Church in 1994 and gives their date of formation as December 17, 1891. Try playing around with this database the next time you hit a brick wall. It’s quick, easy to use, and don’t forget free! Most other states have similar databases. Follow the links for Mississippi, Tennessee, and South Carolina to name a few.
Southern History Department
By Tressa at January 12, 2015
What: The Lion King musical ticket giveaway Where: All Birmingham Public Library locations When: Drawing will be conducted on March...
Woodfin Transition Education Co-Chair Stresses Partnering Library Resources to Help Birmingham SchoolsBPL Executive Director Floyd Council and Mayor Randall Woodfin Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin’s transition team co-chair of Education ...
What: Steps to Starting Your Business When: 3rd Tuesday of each month, February-June 2018 Time: 12:00-1:00 p.m. Where: Central L...
Money Matters Workshop – Protect Yourself from Identity Theft Scheduled for March 21 at Central LibraryThe Birmingham Public Library is partnering again this year with UAB’s Regions Institute for Financial Education to offer a series of Mo...
Screening for Uncommon Grace: The Life of Flannery O'Connor Scheduled for March 24 at Central LibraryWhat: Screening of Uncommon Grace: The Life of Flannery O'Connor ; Q&A with filmmaker Bridget Kurt to follow When: Saturday, ...