Leading Questions for Researching Business and Industry

Leading Questions is a series provided to help researchers get started. The questions below are intended to be broadly applicable for use by researchers at any level of experience. If you are an applicant for an Indiana State Historical Marker, answer these questions using primary sources to support your findings; you should then have a very strong application! Keep in mind that several Leading Questions issues may be applicable to your marker topic.

Not sure where to find the answers to these questions? Start with the Research Checklist IHB uses when beginning a research project, and try to visit these local resources. No matter where you find the answers, be sure to keep track of what you found and where you found it with citations! Also keep track of sources that did not prove helpful at the time; it can save time later as your research proceeds.

Leading Questions for Researching Business and Industry

  • What was the original name of the business? Were there name changes over time? What, when, and why?
  • What was/were the name(s) of the founder(s)? Did owners change over the life of the business? Who, when, and why?
  • Did the race/ethnicity/religion/gender of the owners or workers have an influence on operations? Was the business or its employees affected by migration or population shifts?
  • What is the date of the founding and/or incorporation of the business? If applicable, when did operations cease and why?
  • What type of business was it originally? How has the business adapted to social, technological, or cultural changes? Did the business contribute or influence innovations or developments in its field/sector/market?
  • What was its original location? Why was it established there? Did the location change over time? Where did it move and why?
  • How was the location of the business dependent on local resources (e.g., labor, natural resources, transportation, etc.)? Are or were there other businesses of the same type nearby? If so, how is this business different from those businesses?
  • What goods were produced? What and where were the markets for those goods? How were the goods transported/marketed/sold/used? How did this change over time?
  • How did the business affect the local community? Did it add to or provide support for community growth?
  • What impact did the business have at the state, national, or international level? How did its impact change over time?
  • Were there major changes or events on a national level that affected the business or that are reflected by changes in its operations? Does the business exemplify national trends in its field/market/sector?
  • Why did the business succeed or fail?
  • Are any original or later buildings still standing? When were they built? Has there been any renovation or restoration?