Over the years, we’ve learned a lot from our clients about the power of historical perspective. Here, in short blog posts, white papers, and external publications, we share some of those insights. From considered perspective on issues in such areas as corporate strategy, education, economic development, and health care, to more informal musings on the news of the day, we illustrate how history has brought us to where we are and shapes the choices yet to come.


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Blog Post ·
April 2017

Family Story and Philanthropy: A Connection That Can Shape Lifelong Giving

A family’s story can have a profound impact on philanthropy. As family historians, we have found that many of our clients know at least a little bit about their past.

Blog Post ·
March 2017

How to Ensure Successful Digitization Projects

Clients often ask us, "Why don't we just digitize everything?" Winthrop's Digital Asset Specialist, David Kay, looks at what makes a successful digitization project.

Blog Post ·
August 2016

What Uber's China Deal Says About the Limits of Platforms

It is one of those deals that makes all the business pages, but Winthrop History Advisory Board member Pankaj Ghemawat wants to take a broader view on how globalization effects "platform" companies.

Blog Post ·
June 2016

Why Leaders Look to History for Career Development

Winthrop Group takes a moment this summer to reflect on the value of authenticity and offers 5 tips for engaging with history to strengthen your career.

Publication ·
June 2016

Using the Past to Define our Future

How does Citi Center for Culture use the past to define their future?

Blog Post ·
April 2016

History Can Be a Recipe for Organizational Change

In the recent article, “Let Go of What Made Your Company Great,” (Harvard Business Review, April 13, 2016), Vijay Govindarajan raises an excellent question: how is it possible for an organization to selectively forget the past in order to try new things?

Blog Post ·
April 2016

Reinterpreting Corporate Identity

The history of Pendleton Woolen Mills provides a case study of how an understanding of a company’s history, culture, and ownership has contributed to the firm’s survival

Blog Post ·
July 2015

Business Competition Has Not Gotten Fiercer

It’s become part of the conventional wisdom: The internet and globalization have combined to render almost every company vulnerable to greater competition than ever.

Blog Post ·
April 2015

Municipal Art Society - 1965 Landmarks Law - WNYC

Working with the WNYC Archives, Winthrop archivist writes blog post for the 50th anniversary of Landmarks Law describing the Municipal Art Society's work in saving the past half century.

Blog Post ·
June 2014

Profiting From The Past: Heritage Branding

For many CEOs, the past is a powerful tool in public relations, marketing, and branding, where heritage resources become points of leverage over the competition. Historical materials are the building blocks; especially valuable are historical photographs, slogans, and logos.

Blog Post ·
October 2013

David S. Landes: An Appreciation

With the recent passing of economic historian David Landes at age 89, the curtain has fallen on an academic career of extraordinary historical significance. One of the all-time greats, Landes produced several masterworks, including:

Blog Post ·
October 2013

Six Fed Leaders Who Have Made an Impact

With the nomination of Janet Yellen, media coverage of stories that include the Federal Reserve System emerge daily. This, along with James Bruce’s just released documentary “Money for Nothing: Inside the Federal Reserve”, have ginned up what may be an unprecedented curiosity about the US central bank

Blog Post ·
August 2013

National Digital Stewardship Residency in New York

As archivists committed to documenting our culture, we must find ways to capture those digital records. And in the fast-moving computer world, we need to intervene early in the life of documents or lose them forever.

Blog Post ·
July 2013

Bridging the Preservation Gap: Documenting Our Historic Infrastructure, Part II

In part one of this series, we discussed the critical need for preservation of our historical bridges and the records that document them. Today, we look at who keeps these records and how the documentation is changing.

Blog Post ·
June 2013

Preserving the Legacy of Timbuktu

The city, whose name evokes the romance of the exotic to American ears, is a quiet desert town today, but historically was a center of trade and culture. The legacy of that past is thousands of irreplaceable historical manuscripts. Long-term efforts to preserve and organize these texts were ongoing when Timbuktu was overrun by Ansar Dine

Blog Post ·
May 2013

Real Libraries in a Digital World: The Launch of the Digital Public Library of America

The launch last week of the Digital Public Library of America offers the public a chance to see 2.4 million archival items normally out of reach. This brings up the much debated topic of the role libraries and archives play in the digital age – specifically, do we need them in a publicly accessible physical space?

Blog Post ·
May 2013

Bridging the Preservation Gap: Documenting Our Historic Infrastructure

Bridges are at once thoroughly practical structures and icons of the American landscape. As a unique part of our infrastructure, they play a special role in transportation and history, and often have immense local historical importance.

Publication ·
March 2013

Why Good Leaders Don’t Need Charisma

When you read the business press, it’s easy to get the impression that all you need to do to make your company great is add a charismatic CEO. Find the next Steve Jobs, Jack Welch or Phil Knight and you’re halfway home.

Publication ·
December 2012

Your Company's History as a Leadership Tool

The authors, business historians at the Winthrop Group, argue that leaders with no patience for history are missing a vital truth: A sophisticated understanding of the past is one of the most powerful tools they have for shaping the future.

Publication ·
November 2012

HBR Lives Where Taylorism Died

Harvard Business Review editors go to work every day on articles they hope will make their mark on the history of management thinking.

White Paper ·
February 2012

Private Education in the Public Interest

By the very nature of their “independence,” no two independent schools are identical. Yet all rise or fall on the answer to an old question: what is the place of independent education in a democratic society that educates the vast majority of its children in other kinds of schools? Given independent education’s tiny “lift capacity,” why should we care about the answer?

White Paper ·
April 2011

Medicine, Healthcare, and History: Past as Prologue

Once upon a time, we called it the art of medicine. Then we called it the science of medicine. Then we called it health care. Today we call it a mess. Arguably no public policy issue of our times stirs more impassioned, often embittered, sometimes irrational debate than this one. How did it happen that the ancient art of healing as it evolved into the citadel of biomedical science became so embattled?

Publication ·
April 2011

The Coming Age of Corporate Paternalism

In HBR and elsewhere, a number of authors have wrung their hands about the public legitimacy of business.

Publication ·
September 2010

Enduring Success

What We Can Learn from the History of Outstanding Corporations

White Paper ·
April 2009

Leading in Uncertainty: Four Proven Principles from History - Redux

In a recent white paper, “Leading in Uncertainty: Four Proven Principles from History,” we drew on the experience of several Depression-era firms to suggest four principles by which today’s firms can re-assert control in the midst of economic crisis and lay the foundation for long-term growth. Here we highlight firms that have applied these principles in more recent downturns, most notably the 1970s.

White Paper ·
February 2009

Leading in Uncertainty: Four Proven Principles from History

The global economic crisis has paralyzed businesses around the world, leaving otherwise nimble firms aimless and becalmed. Business loathes uncertainty and craves control. How, in times like these, can leaders assert control over events and set a new course?

Publication ·
May 2007

The Diamond of Sustainable Growth

A study of history yields important clues about what helps economies enjoy sustained economic growth