Don’t be caught in an archival haze, fearlessly appraise!

This year’s annual meeting kindled my interest in diving deep into appraisal. Coming up on my 2 year anniversary of being in the records management trenches, I have a new appreciation for appraisal when I am developing retention schedules, which tend to take a blunt instrument to questions of appraisal when it comes to disposition.


I went a bit wild at the SAA meeting bookstore this year, and got some good recommendations on Twitter. I’ll be reading many of these over the next year and sharing some of my records management thoughts here on The Schedule. Here is my tentative reading list — what am I missing? Any appraisal topics you’d love to hear a records management perspective on?

Note: These sources were mostly gathered via the SAA Glossary, the Records Management Roundtable bibliographythis page from the Seattle Area Archivists, Kim Anderson’s dissertation, and Garrett Boos’ annotated bibliography.


A few notes: Obviously 45 sources is a LOT to work through, and quite frankly life is too short once you’re out of grad school to force yourself to read anything that isn’t getting you closer to happiness, promotion, or tenure. I’ll try to tackle as many of these as I can handle in chronological order and periodically update the blog on my impressions. The majority on the list were published in the last 25 years — there are 18 from the 1990s, 18 published after 2000.


Anderson, Kimberly D. “Appraisal Learning Networks: How University Archivists Learn to Appraise Through Social Interaction,” 2011.


———. “Identity Construction in Documentary Appraisal: Conflict, Inclusion, and the ‘Collecting’ Archive,” 2007.


———. “Social Gestures in North American Appraisal Literature from 1994-2009: A Bibliometric Analysis,” 2013.


Bailey, Catherine. “From the Top Down: The Practice Of Macro Appraisal,” 1997.
Bearman, David, and Wendy Duff. “Grounding Archival Description in the Functional Requirements for Evidence.” Archivaria, 1996, 275–303.


Benedict, Karen. “Invitation to a Bonfire: Reappraisal and Deaccessioning of Records as Collection Management Tools in an archives—A Reply to Leonard Rapport.” The American Archivist 47, no. 1 (1984): 43–49.


Boles, Frank, and Mark A. Greene. “Et Tu Schellenberg? Thoughts on the Dagger of American Appraisal Theory.” The American Archivist, 1996, 298–310.


Boles, Frank, and Society of American Archivists. Selecting & Appraising Archives & Manuscripts, 2005.


Boles, Frank, and Julia Marks Young. “Exploring the Black Box: The Appraisal of University Administrative Records.” The American Archivist, 1985, 121–40.


Booms, Hans, Hermina Joldersma, and Richard Klumpenhouwer. “Society and the Formation of a Documentary Heritage: Issues in the Appraisal of Archival Sources.” Archivaria 1, no. 24 (1987).


Botticelli, Peter. “Records Appraisal in Network Organizations.” Archivaria, 2000, 161–91.


Brichford, Maynard J. Archives & Manuscripts: Appraisal & Accessioning. Society of Amer Archivists, 1977.


Brown, Richard. “Macro-Appraisal Theory and the Context of the Public Records Creator.” Archivaria 1, no. 40 (1995).


Cook, Terry. “Fashionable Nonsense or Professional Rebirth: Postmodernism and the Practice of Archives.” Archivaria, 2001, 14–35.


———. “Macro-Appraisal and Functional Analysis: Documenting Governance rather than Government 1.” Journal of the Society of Archivists 25, no. 1 (2004): 5–18.


———. “Mind over Matter: Towards a New Theory of Archival Appraisal.” The Archival Imagination: Essays in Honour of Hugh A. Taylor, 1992, 38–70.


Cox, Richard J. “The End of Collecting: Towards a New Purpose for Archival Appraisal.” Archival Science 2, no. 3–4 (2002): 287–309.

Cox, Richard J., and Helen W. Samuels. “The Archivist’s First Responsibility: A Research Agenda to Improve the Identification and Retention of Records of Enduring Value.” The American Archivist 51, no. 1/2 (January 1, 1988): 28–42.

Cross, Samantha N. “Appraising Archivists: Documentation and the Need for Accountability in the Appraisal Process.” WWU Masters Thesis Collection, January 1, 2011.


Cunningham, Adrian, and Robyn Oswald. “Some Functions Are More Equal than Others: The Development of a Macroappraisal Strategy for the National Archives of Australia.” Archival Science 5, no. 2–4 (May 31, 2006): 163–84. doi:10.1007/s10502-005-9011-1.



———. “The Concept of Appraisal and Archival Theory.” The American Archivist, 1994, 328–44.


Eastwood, Terry. “Jenkinson’s Writings on Some Enduring Archival Themes.” The American Archivist 67, no. 1 (2004): 31–44.


———. “Reflections on the Goal of Archival Appraisal in Democratic Societies.” Archivaria, 2002, 59–71.


Greene, Mark. “‘ The Surest Proof’: A Utilitarian Approach to Appraisal.” Archivaria, 1998, 127–69.


Ham, F. Gerald. Selecting and Appraising Archives and Manuscripts. Vol. 198. Society of Amer Archivists, 1993.


———. “The Archival Edge.” The American Archivist 38, no. 1 (January 1, 1975): 5–13.


Henry, Linda J. “Schellenberg in Cyberspace.” The American Archivist, 1998, 309–27.


Kolsrud, Ole. “The Evolution of Basic Appraisal Principles-Some Comparative Observations.” The American Archivist, 1992, 26–39.


Lockwood, Elizabeth. “‘ Imponderable Matters:’ The Influence of New Trends in History on Appraisal at the National Archives.” The American Archivist, 1990, 394–405.


Man, Elizabeth. “A Functional Approach to Appraisal and Retention Scheduling.” Records Management Journal 15, no. 1 (2005): 21–33.


McKemmish, Sue. “Placing Records Continuum Theory and Practice.” Archival Science 1, no. 4 (December 2001): 333–59. doi:10.1007/BF02438901.


Menne-Haritz, Angelika. “Appraisal or Documentation: Can We Appraise Archives by Selecting Content?” The American Archivist, 1994, 528–42.


Newby, Jennifer. “No File Left behind: The Predicament of Archival Appraising in the Digital Age.” WWU Masters Thesis Collection, January 1, 2014.


Rapport, Leonard. “No Grandfather Clause: Reappraising Accessioned Records.” The American Archivist 44, no. 2 (1981): 143–50.


Robinson, Catherine. “Records Control and Disposal Using Functional Analysis.” Archives and Manuscripts 25 (1997): 288–303.


Robyns, Marcus C. Using Functional Analysis in Archival Appraisal: A Practical and Effective Alternative to Traditional Appraisal Methodologies, 2014.


Samuels, Helen Willa. Varsity Letters: Documenting Modern Colleges and Universities. Scarecrow Press, 1998.


———. “Who Controls the Past.” The American Archivist, 1986, 109–24.


Schaeffer, Roy C. “Transcendent Concepts: Power, Appraisal, and the Archivist as‘ Social Outcast.’” The American Archivist, 1992, 608–19.


Schellenberg, Theodore R. The Appraisal of Modern Public Records. 8. US Govt. Print. Off., 1956.


Sink, Robert. “Appraisal: The Process of Choice.” The American Archivist 53, no. 3 (1990): 452–58.


Steinwall, Susan. “Appraisal and the FBI Files Case: For Whom Do Archivists Retain Records?” The American Archivist 49, no. 1 (1986): 52–63.


Tschan, Reto. “A Comparison of Jenkinson and Schellenberg on Appraisal.” The American Archivist 65, no. 2 (2002): 176–95.


Walters, Tyler O. “Contemporary Archival Appraisal Methods and Preservation Decision-Making.” The American Archivist, 1996, 322–38.


Wilson, Ian E. “The Fine Art of Destruction Revisited.” Archivaria 1, no. 49 (2000).



One thought on “Don’t be caught in an archival haze, fearlessly appraise!

  1. Pingback: Getting Started on Records Scheduling | The Schedule

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