Columbia University's Watson Library of Business and Economics owns a unique collection of historical annual reports. The majority of the reports predate the 1934 Securities Exchange Act which regulated and standardized reporting.
The reports were written for and disseminated to stockholders and the public. While many reports were published, there was no requirement that they be produced or adhere to a particular format.
The 4,482 corporations whose reports comprise the collection represent most of the industries that were instrumental in the creation of early industrialized America including: