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History & archives

Unilever is a business founded on a sense of purpose, and our unique heritage still shapes the way we do business today.

Unilever Art, Archives and Record Management

Collage of Unilever photos throughout history

Located in Port Sunlight, the historic home of Unilever in the UK, the Unilever Art, Archives and Records Management team look after one of the most important collections of business records in the world.

The team are responsible for the collection and management of Unilever’s archives which span several centuries – in fact, our oldest document dates from 1292.

The collections contain original documents, printed sources, images and films, for example, we hold the first advert that was ever aired on television for S. R Gibbs toothpaste.

There are minute books reporting on company board meetings, financial records, a wealth of advertising and examples of packaging, as well as architectural plans and maps of current and former Unilever sites.

Well-known brands, such as Colman’s, Wall’s, Lipton, Persil, Pears Soap, Lux, PG Tips and Marmite, all feature.

Access our collections

The Unilever Art, Archive and Records Management search room and library in Port Sunlight is closed until further notice as we deal with the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic. We are processing our COVID backlog whilst a new Discovery Centre for visitors is being created. We look forward to welcoming you to our new Discovery Centre.

We are currently not able to say when we will re-open. Any updates to our services will be posted on this page.

I need to...

...find out about a person who used to work at Unilever or a related company

We have a collection of in-house magazines, many of which include articles on long service awards, marriages and obituaries. We hold information cards on Directors and Board members detailing their working career with us. Unfortunately, records of staff for many small subsidiary companies have not survived.

To start your search, check our online catalogue to see if any records relate to your enquiry.

To have the best chance of identifying the person you are looking for, email archives@unilever.com with as much of the information below as possible:

  • employees full name
  • dates of employment
  • name of the company they worked for (Unilever or a subsidiary)
  • work location
  • any details of their position.
...visit Unilever Art, Archives and Records Management

We have a search room and library in our offices in Port Sunlight that can be used for research.

Please note that visits are by appointment only (between 10.00 to 16.00 Monday to Friday, excluding bank and public holidays) and are dependent on staff being available on site to assist.

To request an appointment for research at the archives, please download and complete the Research Request Form below, and email it to archives@unilever.com

Research Request Form (DOCX 349.65 KB)

Use our online catalogue to identify the records you would like to view. Watch our video guide for help on how to use our online catalogue.

...discover more about the history of a Unilever brand or product

To discover more about Unilever’s rich history, explore our interactive timeline or download The Formation of Unilever brochure (PDF 1.56 MB) .

If you can’t find the information you’re looking for, email archives@unilever.com with as much information as possible on your query.

...discover Unilever’s Annual Reports and Accounts

Find annual reports going back to the company’s foundation in 1929 from the archive of Unilever’s Annual Reports and Accounts.

We also hold a series of Annual Reports and Accounts that cover the whole of Unilever’s history from 1891 to the present day.

If you can’t find what you are looking for online, please contact us at archives@unilever.com.

…volunteer at Unilever Art, Archives and Records Management

If you are interested in finding out about a career in Archives and Records Management, or if you’d like to learn new skills and gain work experience, we are offering virtual work experience placements. We welcome applications from people from all backgrounds and skill levels. Full induction, support and supervision is provided.

Recently our virtual volunteers have been involved in cataloguing business correspondence from one of our most popular collections. Our placements run for one day per week over an 8 week period.

Due to popular demand we are currently running a waiting list, however, If you are interested, please email archives@unilever.com to find out more.

…donate Unilever artefacts

We welcome donations of artefacts or records from members of the public. If you have an item or collection you wish to donate, please email archives@unilever.com with details of the item you hold.

...access William Lever Speeches

The Lever-half of the Unilever name has its roots with one of the founding fathers, William Hesketh Lever. He was one of the great pioneers of modern consumerism. He understood the need for innovation, diversification, and adding value through marketing. Many of the values he stood for still have resonance for us as a business today.

We are proud that we can allow William Lever’s voice to be heard once more by conserving and digitising 39 of his published speeches.

To access his speeches, please visit the online archives.

...get help with something else

If you have general query relating to Unilever, careers or current products and services, contact the Unilever helpdesk using Unilever contact form.

Designated Outstanding Collection Accredited Archive Service

Designated status

The high standard of the service has been recognised by The National Archives (TNA), and the collections have been recognised as being of international significance through the award of ‘Designated Status’ by the Arts Council England for both the Unilever and United Africa Company collections.

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