Focus Friday: Xerox’s Real Live Historian

by Nancy Demspsey, Xerox PR

I am a member of the global PR team, live in Rochester, NY and help countless students, reporters and my team get the facts straight about Xerox

Today, we are a $23 billion company with more than half our revenue coming from services we provide across the globe. But Xerox has a rich history that goes back to the launch of the first plain paper copier more than 50 years ago from a company that began life in 1906 as the Haloid Company. In my job in Corporate Public Relations I receive many phone calls asking for information about Xerox – past and present and that past has generated tons of materials that must be carefully archived.

 When I get a call from someone asking about our history, early products and innovations, or perhaps hoping to borrow a vintage product for a movie prop, I know who to call: our Xerox historian, Ann Neal. 

Ann runs the Xerox Historical Archives on the Xerox Webster complex. Its mission is to collect, preserve and make available documents, media and artifacts of historical significance to Xerox Corporation.

This unique collection began in 1974 and has been enhanced through the years from donations from Xerox employees and retirees as well as from various organizations within Xerox who send Ann materials that are no longer needed.  The collection includes product documentation, publications, machines, photos, films and memorabilia. 

So when computer aficionados want to see photos of Xerox’s early mouse or the Alto computer, I can reach out to Ann at the Historical Archives. When a movie or television production company wants to borrow a vintage piece of equipment for their production, I can count on Ann to research and provide the appropriate product for the scene. 

It’s a bright spot in my day, when I reach out to Ann and learn even more about Xerox and our history. She’s a true treasure and a great resource!

And this summer, when you’re watching Men in Black III, see if you can spot the Xerox equipment.

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  1. RJ McHatton April 21, 2012 - Reply

    I am pleased that Xerox is preserving its incredible history and archives. As a profiessional video biographer, I have made numerous Corporate History documentaries and Founders Vision documentaries for small and large companies. Everyone wins when you preserve the history and values and wisdom of the company. Employees, Customers, Stockholders, Vendors, and the future, too.

  2. Paul Horton May 8, 2012 - Reply

    I have worked with Ann the past three years and have watched her passion about preserving Xerox culture in action. Ann is always a great ambassador for the company and the archive collection. Ann is retiring this summer and will be greatly missed. All who are as passionate about preserving Xerox history as Ann is should apply for this unique position through the Global Careers tool.

  3. Amelio Paolucci May 9, 2012 - Reply

    The Office Color Technical Support Team enjoyed our visit to the Archives last week!
    Ann N was a great hostess.

    Amelio P
    Webster NY

  4. Ellen Rickson May 9, 2012 - Reply

    I have recently retired from XEROX after 33 years. I am currently gathering all my XEROX stuff. I would like to know if any of the memoribilia I have would be of value to the collection. How should I proceed.

  5. Ann Neal May 14, 2012 - Reply

    Hello Ellen,
    Thank you for your interest in donating some of your Xerox memorabilia to XHA. I will be more than happy to talk with you about the items you have in mind. The archive phone number is 585-265-5462; please don’t hesitate to give me a call.

  6. Dave Baker May 14, 2012 - Reply

    Yes, can’t say enough nice things about Ann Neal. Her (Xerox’s) Historical Archives have provided materials (Prior Art) used in numerous patent infringement litigations that have saved Xerox untold $$$ by invalidating patents. The rich Xerox History is an intertesting and valuable resource. In addition to memorobilia, if you have any old product doc or classic machines, consider donating it!

  7. Lyle Schmidt July 24, 2013 - Reply

    As a Xerox employee for many years, now retired, I have not had the opportunity to visit the Xerox Historical Archives. I live very far from the area. However, I do enjoy the historical Xerox items from the past. In fact, I have some of my own. I also watch online for items that may become available. Having worked on the Xerox 914, I was intrigued to see a sign that was used to advertise the copier. Has anyone else seen the Xerox sign as shown at I remember that Xerox sign from years ago, but have not seen such a sign in MANY years.

    Does anyone know of someone else owning this same Xerox sign?

  8. falynnesmith July 26, 2013 - Reply

    Hi Lyle,
    Thanks for your comments. It’s always nice to hear from former Xerox employees. I’ve shared your note with our company historian and we’ll let you know if we have any information on that sign.

    Falynne Finagan
    Editor, Xerox Real Business Blog

  9. Falynne Finagan, Xerox July 29, 2013 - Reply

    Hi Lyle,
    Our company historian says that he has seen the sign that you’re interested in, but the Xerox Archives at this time does not have one as an artifact. We have others that are of newer vintage that advertise copying and also color copying, but not of the 914 era.

    All the best,
    Falynne Finagan
    Editor, Xerox Real Business Blog

  10. Frederik van Steen October 10, 2018 - Reply

    The other day I saw the terrific film Coma on an “Old Skool’ Vhs tape. I loved the exterior of The Jefferson Institute and found out it was really the (former) Xerox sales office in Lexington, Massachusetts. I tried to find out who the architect was on internet but found nothing. Also I only found only two foto’s of the building (the old builing I must say because I read they ‘renovated’ it and really screwed it up bad). more information or pictures of the (old) building would be much appriciated. Hence, one of the pictures I found is now my laptop desktop!

    Greetings from The Netherlands.

    • Ray Brewer October 12, 2018 - Reply

      Frederik, I am the Corporate Historian for Xerox and can give you a bit more information on the building. The Xerox Lexington, Massachusetts building was constructed in 1971 as the headquarters for units in our education business. Included in these subsidiaries was Ginn and Company that Xerox purchased in July, 1968. The Xerox Northeast Sales Division was also located there at one time. There are very few photos of the building from the Xerox era. It did indeed have the “brutalistic” look and feel, common for building designs of the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. The exterior views that were filmed for the movie were done while Xerox still owned the building.

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