Materiality, corporate structure and global business: understanding and contextualising the Pearson photographic archive

  • Noeme Santana (Speaker)

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference


Between 1880 and 1930 the British civil engineering company S. Pearson & Son compiled a large volume of photographs into albums. The albums, part of the company’s business archive are reflective of Pearson’s corporate history and global operations. By 1930 Pearson was a multinational conglomerate with diverse global business interests in oil, media, utilities and civil engineering. Comprising 150 photographic albums, business contracts, souvenirs, diaries and personal correspondence, the Pearson archive is a rich account of the pronounced material and visual culture in the company’s global operations. At the core of this paper are the challenges faced in understanding and contextualising the existence of such a thematically diverse photographic collection within the company’s corporate history. With very little to no information on the logistics of compiling thousands of photographs from both domestic and international contracts into albums, photographic and editorial authorship, and for what audience(s) the albums were intended for, the material qualities of the albums help shape the collection in terms of authorship and positioning the archive within Pearson’s wider business structure and culture. This paper will consider my approach to the collection, the challenges faced in identifying the logistics of putting the albums together, and the type(s) of audiences addressed by the albums.

"The material image: the photographic archive in circulation" session at the International Conference of Historical Geographers
Period7 Jul 2015
Event typeOther