2.5. Forms and Reports

Forms and Reports



Gabriela Recio Cavazos, Historian and writer

I have done extensive research analyzing the development of Mexico’s brewing companies and the history of the country’s corporate law profession. I recently published a biography and I am currently writing a company history. 

Sean H. Vanatta, University of Glasgow

I write about U.S. financial history, especially the interactions between financial innovation, regulation, and politics. I’ currently working on credit cards, bank supervision, and state-level public pension investments. 

The chair of this session is Beatriz Rodríguez Satisabal (Universidad del Pacífico)

Description of workshop 

The theme of this panel is forms and reports--the most mundane of the mundane. How dull! Such documents often serve as fodder for quantitative historians--this many units of production, that many border crossings, thus and such number of chemicals expelled into the environment. In this panel, our aim is to look past the numbers to try to see what else the forms can teach us. 

The panelists and topics appear below, along with a very short bibliography specific to the topics. We would welcome suggestions from readers about their favourite theoretical or source-driven texts that can help us think critically about the uses (and mis-uses) of forms and reports in historical scholarship.

Sean Vanatta, 19th Century Bank Examination Forms

I will walk through a bank examination form, used by U.S. federal examiners in the 19th century to assess whether nationally chartered banks were obeying the law and practicing sound banking. My goals will be threefold: First, I want to see what the form and organization of the report tells us about how the examiners did their work--or how officials in Washington DC wanted them to do their work. Second, I hope to draw attention to the rich variety of quantitative data that the reports offer historians. Third, I want to underline the important power dynamics between the examiners and the bankers under examination.

Gabriela Recio, 20th Century Financial Analysis Reports

Financial analyst reports have a lot of financial information, but I have mostly used them for qualitative information. Analysts usually specialize in a sector and in most cases they tend to do it for years. I have used a lot of the beverage industry reports from the 1990s onwards. In the case of emerging markets, like Mexico, it is a good place to find the history of the sector or of specific companies that you might not find in other places. These reports are made for clients with the purpose of telling them if they should buy or not specific company stock.

For more information or if you wish to participate in this workshop, please check this document.