Answered By: Coleen Neary
Last Updated: Sep 20, 2023     Views: 996

Information on companies varies greatly depending on the type of company.  Types of companies include:

International - The amount of information on international companies varies. If the company trades on the U.S. exchanges it must file annual reports (20-F) with the SEC. Other information can be found in directories, databases, newspapers, and magazines.

Non-Profit - Nonprofits must file IRS Form 990 which includes financial data. IRS:  U.S. Nonprofit Organization's Public Disclosure Regulations Site

Public - There is a great deal of information available on companies that trade on the stock market - SEC filings, annual reports, analysts' reports, news stories, etc.

Private - Information on private companies is more difficult to find.  Directories and news stories may be the main sources. All 50 states make some level of corporate and business filings available online.


In the US, a public company: (a) offers stock for sale publicly on a stock exchange, and (b) makes public certain business/financial information as dictated by the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC).

There are many places you can find information about a company and its history. Try the following approaches:

  • Company's website
    • Websites often include an "about us" section that may include their history. Remember, the company will explain its history the way it wants to be seen.
  • Annual report
  • Find books/ebooks that contain corporate histories
    • Books about a company often include historical background.
    • Do a keyword or company name search in the library using the Book &Ebook tab to find books that cover your company's history.
  • Search for articles
    • Newspaper, trade/magazine, and scholarly articles that mention or are about specific companies might provide some historical information.


Questions to Ask Before You Begin Searching:
  • What do you already know?
  • What do you need to know?
  • Do you need to identify and analyze companies?
  • Do you need to understand an industry?
  • Do you need background on a product or service? 
  • What specific language and/or phrases are unique to the industry?

Think about "who cares" enough to compile, analyze and publish data on a particular business topic. Library databases contain peer-reviewed content, analyst reports, and other vetted information.

And here are more suggested resources :

  • Government agencies at the Federal, State, and Local levels
  • Trade associations
  • Consulting firms
  • Locally based media

See:  Corporate Research Project: Dirt Diggers Digest Guide to Strategic Corporate Research


Business Database for finding company information

See Also

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