Course:1: Archives and Archivists
Lesson:Lesson Two: More About Historical Records
Topic:Which Records Are Historically Important and Which Are Not?


Which Records Are Historically Important and Which Are Not?

One of the biggest challenges that you face as a caretaker of historical records is deciding which records are historically important and which are not. Remember that as individuals and organizations create records, the vast majority of those records have value only temporarily. Your role is to identify which records will be important to history. 

Think of your own personal records. As soon as you don't need them anymore, you will throw away most of your records, such as receipts, ticket stubs, and cancelled checks. But other records will be more valuable to you, and you will care for them more thoroughly--the deed to your property, your birth certificate, family photographs.

This selecting process is called appraisal. We will discuss appraisal much more in Course 2.

Definition icon

Appraisal is the process of determining the value of records based on their current use; their informational value; their arrangement and condition; and their relationship to other records. When using the term appraisal in archives, one is generally not referring to the monetary value of documents.