n.the process of identifying materials offered to an archives that have sufficient value to be accessionedBrichford 1977, 1The most significant archival function is the appraisal or evaluation of the mass of source material and the selection of that portion that will be kept.Walden 1980, 101The term “appraisal” is often heard in archival parlance, as archivists are frequently required to “appraise” historical material which has been, or is about to be, acquired by their repository. Yet archivists should be cautious in employing the word too liberally for, depending on the circumstances, appraisal will have different meanings.Ham 1993, 51There are five analyses that make up the basic tools archivists need in their appraisal kits to identify and select records of enduring value. These are an analysis: of a record’s functional characteristics—who made the record and for what purpose; of the information in the record to determine its significance and quality; of the record in the context of parallel or related documentary sources; of the potential uses that are likely to be made of the record and the physical, legal, and intellectual limitations on access; of the cost of preserving the record weighed against the benefit of retaining the information.Duranti 1998, 177The principle of provenance, as applied to appraisal, leads us to evaluate records on the basis of the importance of the creator’s mandate and functions, and fosters the use of a hierarchical method, a “top-down” approach, which has proved to be unsatisfactory because it excludes the “powerless transactions,” which might throw light on the broader social context, from the permanent record of society.Eastwood 2004, 40This idea of Jenkinson’s [that archivists ought not to be in the business of destroying records] has received, as might be expected, almost universal condemnation by archivists who routinely conduct appraisal, often nowadays mandated in legislation where public records are concerned. It may seem that events have passed Jenkinson by, but, in fact, as several archivists inspired by postmodernist thinking have argued, when archivists decide what to save and what to destroy, they begin to be a factor in the determination of what archives are.Jimerson 2009, 12Whether working in institutional archives or manuscript collecting repositories, archivists must consciously decide what to collect and preserve. Archival appraisal requires a determination of the significance of records, not their monetary value.Bass 2013, 61Professional archivists engage in two types of appraisal when acquiring the records of private individuals: macro-level appraisal to determine the historical and cultural significance of a personal collection in relation to an acquisition or collection development policy; and micro-level appraisal to determine the value of documentary forms within that personal collection in order to separate the wheat from the chaff.the process of determining the length of time records should be retained, based on legal requirements and on their current and potential usefulnessthe process of determining the market value of an item; monetary appraisalWalden 1980, 101The appraisal of manuscripts more often involves the determination of the monetary value of an individual item or collection.Rogers and Sassur 2020, 128–129The final appraisal report fixes the value of the material, and the institution subsequently issues a tax receipt for the gift of in-kind or cultural-property materials at the value determined by the appraiser.
In an archival context, appraisal1 is the process of determining whether records and other materials have permanent (archival) value. Appraisal may be done at the collection, creator, series, file, or item level. Appraisal can take place prior to donation and prior to physical transfer, at or after accessioning. The basis of appraisal decisions may include a number of factors, including the records’ provenance and content, their authenticity and reliability, their order and completeness, their condition and costs to preserve them, and their intrinsic value. Appraisal often takes place within a larger institutional collecting policy and mission statement.Appraisal is distinguished from monetary appraisal, which estimates fair market value. Appraisal is distinguished from evaluation, which is typically used by records managers to indicate a preliminary assessment of value based on existing retention schedules.