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INF 389J - Appraisal and Selection of Records, Spring 2014, unique#28865 - Schedule
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January 26: Stopping time and editing the past: Course Overview

Review of course materials and assignments:

Except for the designated texts (see Texts), readings will be available online, in journals available through the PCL catalog or on Canvas; please check this syllabus from time to time for changes
Class participation: what we are trying to achieve
Readings: how to read critically; how to demonstrate that you can read critically
Discussion: what's expected, how to do it (discussion thread on Canvas, discussion in the class)
Becoming an appraisal expert: assignment details
Work in class on the Keep-o-meter: what the heck this means
Class presentation

Lecture/Discussion: Lecture on the emergence of constructivism, accountability, and community control in archival appraisal discourse. Questions for discussion:

What is appraisal?
Why do archivists do it?
How can we examine it critically?

February 2: Historical development of appraisal theory

Lecture/Discussion: For today you have readings from the two fundamental sources for pioneering archival appraisal practice in English-speaking countries, coupled with a history of what is judged to be the foundational Western European early-modern archives in France, plus a standard (and not as dated as you might think) overview of American archival practice. Here are some questions for discussion: bring what you know and any experience you have to this discussion. We will begin our discussion of the implications of the day's work for the Keep-o-meter with this class but will continue it with each class.

What is the history of archival appraisal?
What is the general flow of its recent canonical history?
Why do Jenkinson and Schellenberg disagree?
What role does the type of archive play?

Turn in today your preliminary bibliography for studying your designated appraisal expert, along with a tentative schedule for covering the material. Please send it to me as a .doc file at my email address on this syllabus.


Jennifer Milligan, "'What is an Archive' in the History of Modern France," Archive Stories. France is part of our canonical archival history: here is a version as seen by a historian.

Hilary Jenkinson, A Manual of Archive Administration (1922; 2nd edition London: Percy Lund, Humphries, and Co., 1937), 136-155. The whole work is available online at This represents what has come to be known as the Jenkinsonian or "hands-off" approach and it is important that you know what he actually said.

Theodore Schellenberg, The Appraisal of Modern Public Records (Bulletins of the National Archives No. 8; Washington: National Archives, 1956), 237-278 . Available online from NARA: Schellenberg's American approach seeks reasons for keeping things.

Gerald Ham, Selecting and Appraising Archives and Manuscripts (SAA 1993), Chapter 1, "Archival Selection': A Most Demanding Task," and Chapter 2, "Appraisal Theory and Selection Goals." Available from Hathi Trust at Read this to get a review of the development of the conventional American view, with an emphasis on management issues and also including consideration of non-government materials.

February 9: "Value" and "significance" as grounds for selection


Gary Taylor, Cultural Selection: Why Some Achievements Survive the Test of Time—And Others Don’t (New York: Basic Books, 1997), 3-20. Available on Canvas.

Frank Boles and Julia Marks Young, "Exploring the Black Box: The Appraisal of University Administrative Records," American Archivist 48 (Spring 1985), 121-140. Note that this theory is developed in more detail in Boles and Young, Archival Appraisal (Neal-Schuman 1991).

“Intrinsic Value in Archival Materials” (Staff Information Paper 21; Washington: NARA, 1982), available from

Shauna McRanor, “A Critical Analysis of Intrinsic Value,” American Archivist 59 (Fall 1996), 400-411.

Lynn C. Westney, "Intrinsic Value and the Permanent Record: The Preservation Conundrum," OCLC Systems & Services: International digital library perspectives 23(1), 2007: 5-12. Note how this article echoes the NARA position.

An interesting collateral reading (optional) would be Nicholson Baker, Double Fold: Libraries and the Assault on Paper (Random House, 2001), together with Richard Cox's response to it at

Lecture/Discussion: The "values" theory of appraisal, as presented by NARS/NARA is the topic we'll discuss today. We'll talk about the social context of this statement and its reception as an example of the importance of historical context in understanding archival theory. Some questions for consideration:

What was going on in the archival world at this time?
What was the status of NARA's power at this time?
What is value? What makes it "intrinsic"?

February 16: Social history and Documentation Strategy: Comprehensive archival engineering


Gerald Ham, "The Archival Edge," American Archivist 38 (January 1975), 5-13.

Peter Fritzsche, "The Archive and the Case of the German Nation," Archive Stories. This reading offers a good background for the Booms reading below.

Hans Booms, “Society and the Formation of a Documentary Heritage: Issues in the Appraisal of Archival Sources,” Archivaria 24 (Summer 1987), 69-107.

Bruce Bruemmer and Sheldon Hochheiser, The High-Technology Company: A Historical Research and Archival Guide (Charles Babbage Institute, 1989). Online at

Katie Shilton and Ramesh Srinivasan, "Participatory Appraisal and Arrangement for Multicultural Archival Collections," Archivaria 63 (2007), 87-101.

Doris Malkmus, "Documentation Strategy: Mastodon or Retro-Success?" American Archivist 71 (2008), 384-409.

Joseph Anderson and Orville Butler, "History of Physicists in Industry," October 2008, published by the American Institute of Physics. This is an interesting optional reading following up on the American Institute of Physics' continuing interest in archiving, discussed with emphasis on digital recordkeeping at the end of the report with recommendations. The report is at

Lecture/Discussion: Archiving from the bottom up: social history and documentation strategy. This is the model that will never die and keeps evolving. Why is it especially important for community archives?

February 23: Documenting institutions: Functional Analysis and Macro-Appraisal


Helen Willa Samuels, "Improving our Disposition," Archivaria 33 (Winter 1991-92), 125-140.

Tom Nesmith, "Documenting Appraisal as a Societal-Archival Process: Theory, Practice, and Ethics in the Wake of Helen Willa Samuels," in Cook, Controlling the Past, 31-50. Don't miss the rich footnotes.

Terry Cook, "Macroappraisal in Theory and Practice: Origins, Characteristics, and Implementation in Canada, 1950-2000," Archival Science 5(2005), 101-61. This is the historical background to macroappraisal. Note that this whole issue of Archival Science is about macroappraisal and is worth your time to learn a lot about an influential appraisal method.

Library and Archives Canada, Appraisal Methodology, Macro-Appraisal and Functional Analysis, Part A, Concepts and Theory, available at ; Part B, Guidelines for Performing, available at These two documents represent the theory and practice AS IMPLEMENTED.

Mark Green and Todd Daniels-Howell, “Documentation with an Attitude: A Pragmatist’s Guide to the Selection and Acquisition of Modern Business Records,” in James M. O’Toole (ed.), The Records of American Buisiness (Chicago: SAA, 1997), Chapter 7. Available on Canvas. A brief version of this argument (not a substitute for the full article but a different angle) is to be found in a paper by Mark Greene, "Never Eat Anything Bigger than Your Head," from the 1996 SAA meeting, available at

Lecture/Discussion: Archiving from the top down: Bureaucracy and function as begun by Helen Willa Samuels and instantiated in the Canadian Macro-appraisal and the American Minnesota Method. This is a very important model and I've added readings to walk you through how it is applied.

March 2: Appraising individuals' records


John Randolph, "On the Biography of the Bakunin Family Archive," Archive Stories.

Philip N. Cronenwett, "Appraisal of Literary Manuscripts." in Nancy E. Peace, Archival Choices: Managing the Historical Record in an Age of Abundance (Lexington, MA: Lexington Books), 1984. Chap. 5., 105-116. Available on Canvas.

Sue McKemmish, "Evidence of Me," Archivea and Manuscripts 24 (May 1996), 28-45. Available here:

Lucie Paquet, “Appraisal, Acquisition, and Control of Personal Electronic Records: From Myth to Reality,” Archives and Manuscripts (November 2000), 71-91. Available on Canvas.

Catherine Hobbs, "The Character of Personal Archives: Reflections on the Value of Records of Individuals," Archivaria 52 (2001), 126-135.

Riva Pollard, "The Appraisal of Personal Papers: A Critical Literature Review," Archivaria 52 (2001), 136-150.

Tom Hyry, Diane Kaplan, and Christine Weideman, "'Though This Be Madness, yet There is Method in 't': Assessing the Value of Faculty Papers and Defining a Collecting Policy," American Archivist 65 (2002), 56-69.

Lecture/Discussion: Features of personal records, differences from organizational records--here we see the difficulties of working with records created by individuals with attention only to their own needs and concerns. Important issues here are related to how archives can justify dealing with the idiosyncrasies of personal records.

March 9: Sampling and Case Files: Reductive models for appraisal


Eleanor McKay, "Random Sampling Techniques: A Method of Reducing Large, Homogeneous Series in Congressional Papers," American Archivist 41 (July 1978), 281-288.

Terry Cook, “Many are Called but Few are Chosen: Appraisal Guidelines for Sampling and Selecting Case Files,” Archivaria 32 (Summer 1991), 25-50.

Terry Cook, The archival appraisal of records containing personal information: A RAMP study with guidelines; available online at
This is the excellent longer study from which Cook's article above is a summary, and it would be well for you at least to skim it (note that it has some additional information about the FBI appraisal and contributed significantly to thinking on macroappraisal), but this is OPTIONAL.

Margaret J. Dixon, "Beyond Sampling: Returning to Macroappraisal for the Appraisal and Selection of Case Files," Archival Science 5 (2005), 285-313.

James Gregory Bradsher, "The FBI Records Appraisal," The Midwestern Archivist XIII, 2 (1988), 51-66. Available at

NARA, "Appraisal of the Records of the Federal Bureau of Investigation." This is a pdf file containing the first 568 pages of the report. You are luckily only assigned to read the first 55 of those, though the rest is informative if you are feeling ambitious. Scroll to the table of contents and read parts 1-4 (Introduction through Findings). Optional challenge: see if you can find the archival documentation of this project in NARA's own online finding aids.

Thomas D. Norris, Prison Inmate Records in New York State: The Challenge of Modern Government Case Records. SAA Case Studies, 1996. Avainable from Hathi Trust: Notice in this reading how influential the FBI appraisal was.

Lecture/Discussion: Case files are arguably the best source of Schellenbergian informational materials, yet there are all kinds of obstacles advanced in the literature to keeping them. The first is the presence of personal data and the second is bulk. The solution: sampling; but see if you can figure out how satisfactorily anyone could defend the sampling techniques discussed in these readings.


SPRING BREAK March 16-21


March 23: Cost-benefit analysis, appraisal, and reappraisal: Does it cost too much to keep?


Laura O'Hara, "Analysis of the costs of a backlog project in response to recommendation 2 of the 2004 Archives and History Office Program Review Committee report," draft report, 2007. Available on Canvas.

Paul Ericksen and Robert Shuster, "Beneficial Shocks: The Place of Processing-Cost analysis in Archival Adminstration," American Archivist 58 (Winter 1995): 32-52.

Mark Greene, "'The Surest Proof': A Utilitarian Approach to Appraisal," Archivaria 45 (Spring 1998), 127-169.

Leonard Rapport, “No Grandfather Clause: Reappraising Accessioned Records,” American Archivist 44 (Spring 1981), 143-150.

Karen Benedict, “Invitation to a Bonfire: Reappraisal and Deaccessioning of Records as Collection Management Tools in Archives—A Reply to Leonard Rapport,” American Archivist 47 (Winter 1984), 43-49.

Roy Rosenzweig, "Scarcity or Abundance? Preserving the Past in a Digital Era," American Historical Review 108, 3 (2003), 1-69. Access online through the History Cooperative via the UT Libraries online catalog.

SAA Deaccessioning and Reappraisal Development and Review Team, "Guidelines for Reappraisal and Deaccessioning," 7/12/11 draft. You can find this document linked from here:

Lecture/Discussion: Are archives really forever? Should they be? What is the significance of the switch from a discourse of "permanence" to one of "endurance"? We have already discussed this, but now we will focus on it in detail, from a background of a month's worth of additional readings.

March 30: Appraisal of non-text physical collections


Dick, Ernest. "Appraisal of Collections" in Steven Davidson and Gregory Lukow, eds. The Administration of Television Newsfilm and Videotape Collections: A curatorial manual (Los Angeles, American Film Institute, 1997), Chap. 3., 31-48. Available on Canvas.

Karen Gracy, Film Preservation (SAA, 2007), Chapter 8, "Power and Authority in Film Preservation. Available on Canvas.

Christopher Ann Paton, "Appraisal of Sound Recordings for Textual Archivists," Archival Issues 22(2), 1997, 117-132.

Karen Oberdeck, "Archives of the Unbuilt Environment," Archive Stories.

Nancy Carlson Shrock, “Images of New England: Documenting the Built Environment,” American Archivist 50 (Fall 1987), 474-498.

Joan Schwartz, "The Archival Garden: Photographic Plantings, Interpretive Choices, and Alternative Narratives," in Cook, Controlling the Past, 69-110.

Lara Wilson, "Secure the Shadow: The Appraisal of Photographs," AABC Newsletter, 10:3 (Summer 2000). Available online at
OPTIONAL. Here is a student paper from a UBC class for you to compare your work with...

Lecture/Discussion: Most appraisal literature addresses text; many non-text materials have non-archival values that make their "appraisal" take on a different meaning.

April 6: Appraisal of virtual collections


InterPARES Appraisal Task Force, two documents: "Appraisal Task Force Final Report" and "Appraisal Task Force Final Report - Models." Note that the second document formalizes material in the first, so read them together. Available at

Rachel Hosker and Lesley Richmond, "'Seek and Destroy'--an archival appraisal theory and strategy," in Alistair Tough and Michael Moss (eds.), Record Keeping in a Hybrid Environment: Managing the creation, use, preservation and disposal of unpublished information objects in context (2006). Available on Canvas (under author "Tough")

Steve Bailey, "Appraisal, Retention and Destruction" and "The Problems with applying existing approaches to appraisal in the Web 2.0 world," from Managing the Crowd: Rethinking records management for the web 2.0 world (2008). Available on Canvas.

Richard N. Katz and Paul B. Gandel, "The Tower, the Cloud, and Posterity: Documenting in a Digital World," in Cook, Controlling the Past, 217-240.

Peter Botticelli, "Records Appraisal in Network Organizations" Archivaria 49 (Spring 2000) 161-191.

Catherine O'Sullivan, "Diaries, On-Line Diaries, and the Future Loss to Archives: or, Blogs and the Blogging Bloggers Who Blog Them," American Archivist 68 (Spring/Summer 2005). OPTIONAL. A Pease Award winner from NYU.

Keli Rylance, "Archives and the Intangible," Archivaria 62 (2006), 103-120.

Lecture/Discussion: In the literature you'll hear that appraisal of digital records should follow the same guidelines as appraisal of similar (text, non-text) physical records. Is this true? How are digital records different? What tools exist to help in appraising them?

April 13: Archival agency: Appraisal and the construction of social memory


Mark Greene, "The Messy Business of Remembering: History, Memory, and Archives," Archival Issues 28(2) (2003-2004), 95-103. Available at

Verne Harris, "The Archival Sliver: Power, Memory, and Archives in South Africa," Archival Science 2 (2002), 63-86.

Verne Harris, "Ethics and the Archive: 'An Incessant Movement of Recontextualization,'" in Cook, Controlling the Past, 345-362.

Laura Millar, "Touchstones: Considering the Relationship between Memory and Archives," Archivaria 61 (2005), 105-126.

Francis X. Blouin, Jr., "Archivists, Mediation, and Constructs of Social Memory," Archival Issues 24(2), 1999, 101-112.

Lecture/Discussion: Archival appraisal decides what will survive and what will not. Or does it? Have archives had this monopoly in the past, and do they still have it?

April 20: Formal Appraisal Method Testing: Experimenting with digital tools (with an exercise)


Adam Perer, Ben Schneiderman, and Douglas Oard, "Using Rhythms of Relationships to Understand Email Archives," JASIST 57 (14), 1936-1948 (online October 2, 2006).

Fernanda B. Viegas, Martin Wattenberg, Frank van Ham, Jesse Kriss, Matt McKeon, "Many Eyes: A Site for Visualization at Internet Scale," available at

William Underwood, "Grammar-Based Recognition of Documentary Forms and Extraction of Metadata," International Journal of Digital Curation 1, 5 (2010), 148-159.

Maria Esteva, "Text and Bitstreams: Appraisal and Preservation of a Natural Electronic Archive." Paper presented at New Skills for a Digital Era, 2006 (along with two other UT contributions). Available online, pp. 77-86, at

Patricia Galloway, "Collection Completeness and Appraisal: The Lens of Corpus Archivistics," Presentation at SAA Research Forum, 2007.

Lecture/Discussion: If digital records can be evaluated with digital tools, how will this change appraisal? Does this mean that we can potentially know with much greater confidence what is in a collection or series before we decide whether to retain or destroy it? And is it possible to discover what kind of impact specific destruction practices have on the contents of an archival corpus?


April 27: Final in-class work on the Keep-o-meter


May 4: Summative Discussion of Class Ideas


Jennifer Marshall, Accounting for Disposition, Chapters 7 and 8. This is a 2006 University of Pittsburgh dissertation, hopefully soon to be published, offering a comparative study of how three national archives, US, UK, and Australian, document their appraisal decisions. Available on Canvas.

Lecture/Discussion: So what is the archivist to do? After the profusion of theories and practices we have discussed this semester, what would your first day as an appraiser look like?