Records of businesses that have been sold in a certain area are maintained by government agencies, if the business is publicly held. Sales of private businesses are maintained by local libraries, chambers of commerce and newspapers. Local Small Business Administration offices may also keep records of private business sales.
Transactions of publicly held businesses, including sale of the business, are subject to federal records regulations. The Library of Congress maintains records of public business transactions from 1995 that researchers may access for free online. Earlier records are generally available on paper, and the library charges a fee for searching them. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission also maintains a database of sales of publicly held businesses. The database is open to online searches, and researchers may submit a form to request certified copies of any SEC document.
Private business sales are regulated less stringently, and records are more difficult to access. Researchers may find data online but must also be willing to conduct inquiries in person and by phone. Local librarians are often able to provide researchers with specific print and electronic resources. The Small Business Administration website provides contact links to administration employees with knowledge of area sales activity.