Abstract: Reaching Varied Audiences from within a Corporation: Practicing History at AT&T

Sheldon Hochheiser


Through this illustrated paper on my activities as corporate historian for AT&T Corp. I offer insights that should be useful to business historians who wish to reach audiences beyond their peers and their students. A corporate historian puts greater emphasis on breadth rather than depth of knowledge. As the only historian at AT&T, I was the company's expert on its entire history. I regularly worked with the media to bring history to the general public. Journalists want to know about history; but they need succinct answers in plain language, or at least longer answers that they can distill into quotes or "sound bites." Moreover, they are working against deadlines. The same deadline concerns characterize internal corporate requests whether from lawyers needing historical information for a case or sales executives preparing RFPs. One needs to provide the answer in the appropriate format, anything from an oral answer to a memo to a folder of primary material. Exhibits have been my largest projects. They are a great way to teach