Website of the Month: SEC Historical Society

By Susan B. Anders

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MAY 2005 - The Securities and Exchange Commission Historical Society ( provides a virtual museum available to the public. The website is a great tool for educators and students, as well as for anyone interested in history. The website provides free access to historical records of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the securities industry from the 1930s to the present. The website is supported by contributors to the SEC Historical Society, which is an independent body unaffiliated with the SEC.

The attractively designed website shows that the staff, trustees, and advisors of the society have a great interest in the history of the SEC and the securities industry. Primary materials include audio webcasts, documents, photographs, and interviews. The site also offers a timeline of events from 1929 to the present, and the society plans to offer gallery collections on significant events. The subject of the first planned gallery, due later this year, is Joseph Kennedy and the creation of the SEC.

The website’s easy navigability lets users access many resources from alternate routes, but the search process and sitemap could be improved. The main navigation tools are two horizontal menu bars at the top of the main pages. The first menu bar addresses the primary areas of the website, such as museum, news and events, about, support, and contact. A second menu bar on the homepage (which is also the main page of the museum section) connects users to galleries, timeline, papers, photos, oral histories, online programs, and links. Further simplifying the navigational process, the top of each webpage has hyperlinks for the home page, sitemap, and a keyword search.

Audio Webcasts

The society offers interesting webcasts on securities and investment topics. Webcasts can be accessed via the left-hand index on the homepage, under “online programs” and “full calendar.” Users can tune in to webcasts as they occur, or listen to archived programs. Webcasts download quickly, and sound quality is good. The “click here” button, full calendar hyperlink, and online programs menu pull up dissimilar listings of the webcasts, with different related resources.

Three interesting recent webcasts are “Fireside Chat: Shareholder Rights” (February 15, 2005), “FIT on Forensic Accounting” (September 21, 2004), and “The SEC: A New Era” with Senator Paul Sarbanes (June 8, 2004).

Other Museum Resources

The “timeline” section of SEC and securities history scrolls through major events from 1929 through 2003. The presentation is very interesting, and worth a look even if the user isn’t looking for specific dates.

The “papers” page offers access to a variety of documents that have been archived by the SEC Historical Society. There appear to be around 500 documents, including SEC Findings and Opinions, Comments on Proposed Rules, letters regarding Proposed Rules, other letters, webcast transcripts, interview transcripts, manuscripts, published articles, and the U.S. Code. The documents are organized both alphabetically and chronologically. The keyword search function is useful for approaching the large number of resources; a sample keyword search for “Sarbanes-Oxley” yielded 126 matches, including the act itself. Some documents tested for this review opened in separate windows, while others did not. All opened relatively quickly, depending on the size of the document, and could be printed or saved.

Photographs are organized alphabetically by last name; it would be helpful if they could also be organized chronologically. Photographs open quickly in separate windows, and can be printed or saved. Interviews with key individuals in SEC and securities history are available through transcripts or online audio recordings, under “oral histories.” “Links & resources” includes connections to the ABA Section of Business Law, the New York Stock Exchange, and the Securities Industry Association.

Susan B. Anders, PhD, CPA, is an associate professor of accounting at St. Bonaventure University.




















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