I joined Phoenix in May, to capture, preserve and bring our valuable corporate heritage to life. Phoenix can trace its history back to 1782, and the records we have acquired reveal some fascinating stories, reflecting the economic and social transformation of Britain over the years.
What do we store in the archive?
The archive seeks to preserve material which reflects the development of Phoenix Group, its predecessors and subsidiaries. This includes, but is not limited to, governance records, reports, correspondence, press releases, promotional material, staff magazines, photographs and film. Until now there has never been an official historical archive on site, so my job is to gather these items from different areas in the business into one central repository. The items will be recorded and preserved in line with professional standards so that they can be utilized by the business and wider community.
Why keep archives?
While interesting from a heritage perspective, the archive is a valuable asset for the business. It highlights our unique historic achievements, values, people and culture. It distinguishes us from our peers, helps shape a unique identity and increases brand awareness. It's a source of corporate memory and knowledge about past actions and decisions which can help us to understand where we have come from and who we are today. Heritage outreach projects can enhance our current Corporate Responsibility programme. All this is ours to keep and ours to use. The archive belongs exclusively to us and the material is generated internally.
Are there any highlights in the archive?
There is still a lot to be discovered, but some items come to mind.
'Abolish Rents' leaflets from the 1920s and 1930s.
In 1908, Britannic Assurance was one of the first industrial offices to provide a house purchase scheme. These pamphlets show us how owning a property was a new concept for many, and how that was communicated to customers.
Phoenix Assurance Co Ltd policies of Winston Churchill and Lady Randolph Churchill.
When thinking about our legacy, it's always helpful to see which well-known figures held policies with us.
Staff magazines 1930s – 1960s
Whether from Abbey, Pearl or Britannic, these magazines, which were always greeted with anticipation and contributed to by many, tell us a lot about what it meant to work for a life assurance company at the time. It helps us to trace back the origins of our values and working culture.