Business Archives, Business Records, Corporate Archives, Corporate Memory, Corporate Heritage, Hong Kong, Access, Preservation


The Hong Kong Heritage Project (HKHP), established by Sir Michael Kadoorie in 2007, is one of the first corporate archives to be founded in Hong Kong. It followed in the footsteps of HSBC’s Asia Pacific Archive which pioneered business archives in the city when opened in 2004. Today, more than a decade on, several more corporate archives have been established, although the total number of private archives in Hong Kong remains small.[1] In a city with no archival law - Hong Kong is one of the few jurisdictions in the world that has no archival legislation covering government records - non-government archives can play an important part in preserving and providing access to Hong Kong’s history.[2] HKHP in particular has done much to help safeguard Hong Kong’s history and encourage interest and access to the city’s past. Whereas some business archives in Hong Kong remain closed to the public - perhaps because of the familial nature of these companies - HKHP has a generous access policy. HKHP is also one of the few corporate archives to actively engage with the local community through a dedicated programme of exhibitions and cultural events. Since the project’s launch in 2007, HKHP has curated 13 public exhibitions, offered academic courses and seminars, launched a volunteer-driven heritage scheme, developed a website and published books, all alongside the opening of its archive. In tandem, HKHP has worked with countless museums, NGOs and higher education institutions, and is regularly featured in newspapers and on local television.[3]

This article introduces HKHP’s archive - a multifaceted repository that tells the story of Hong Kong’s economic, political and social history - and investigates its role in preserving the Kadoorie family’s corporate memory as well as Hong Kong’s wider heritage. In doing so, the article hopes to highlight the value of corporate archives for both business and society.

[1] For a full list of business archives in Hong Kong see ‘The Hong Kong Archives Society Archive Directory’, available at: http://www.archives.org.hk/en/page.php?pagename=archive_directory accessed 20 March 2020

[2] See Brech, Don, ‘For the Record’ https://www.scmp.com/article/973084/don-brech accessed 20 March 2020

[3] See for example ‘A Decade of Caring and Sharing’ in China Daily, 27 October 2017 http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/201710/27/WS5a0d0660a31061a738407ed0.html accessed 20 March 2020