n.the usefulness of records that provides information about the origins, functions, and activities of their creatorsBuck 1945a, 111–112But the solution of the problem of bulk is not to be found in dispensing with records of man’s experience. It will probably be found in a combination of three other procedures. The first of these is birth control in record-making, so that ephemeral documents that have no real evidential value will not be preserved as records at all, and real progress is being made in this direction by a number of agencies of the federal government. The second procedure is the disposal of vast quantities of routine records as soon as they have outlived their possible evidential value.Brichford 1977, 4Schellenberg’s discussion of the evidential value of public records is based on a definition of records in the Records Disposal Act of 1943 and refers to evidence of the organization and functions of the creating agency.Raymond and O’Toole 1978, 25Meeting records, office manuals, rules and regulations, attorney general's opinions, and correspondence or other documents relating to office policy exemplify this type of archival record. These are records that contain what Schellenberg would call “evidential value,” and they are perfectly appropriate for inclusion in Norton’s archives.Lewellyn 1979, 30Evidential values may document the genesis and evolution of a company’s goods and services, the expansion of its market or wealth, or its relationship with classes of labor, suppliers, the public and regulatory agencies.Schellenberg 1984, 58The secondary value of records can be ascertained most easily if they are considered in relation to two kinds of matters: 1) the evidence they contain of the organization and functions of the Government body that produced them, and 2) the information they contain on persons, corporate bodies, things, problems, conditions, and the like, with which the Government body dealt. ¶The value that attaches to records because of the evidence they contain of organization and function will be called ‘evidential values.’ By this term I do not refer to the value that inhere in public records because of any special quality of merit they have a documentary evidence. I do not refer, in the sense of English archivists Sir Hilary Jenkinson, to the sanctity of the evidence in archives that is derived from ‘unbroken custody,’ or from the way they came into the hands of the archivist. I refer rather, and quite arbitrarily, to the value that depends on the character and importance of the matter evidenced, i.e., the origin and the substantive programs of the agency that produced the records. The quality of the evidence per se is thus not the issue here, but the character of the matter evidenced.Hannestad 1991, 83The definitive text on modern American appraisal theory, Theodore R. Schellenberg’s “The Appraisal of Modern Public Records,” established two tests for the appraisal of records: their “evidential values” and their “informational values.” Schellenberg used the term “evidential value” not in Jenkinson’s sense of legal evidence and unbroken chain of custody but in the sense of the evidence that the records contain of the organization and functions of the creating agency (i.e., records which document the origin and the substantive programs of the agency that produced the records).Maher 1992, 41Considering evidence and information as values can create problems for appraisal because they often overlap. In addition, evidential value has too often been treated as inherently superior to informational value because it is more relevant for the narrative, administrative, and diplomatic history that has formed the traditional background for archivists and researchers.Dollar 1993, 45A growing number of archivists are now urging that archival appraisal return to basics and pay more attention to the documentation of program accountability, which suggests that the informational value of information application systems may be eclipsed by their evidential value.Ham 1993, 8Evidential values. This term characterizes the information in the record in a historical, not a legal, sense. . . . Evidential value, simply put, is the importance of the documentation for institutional accountability and history.Schellenberg 1996, 139By evidential value I do not refer here to the value that inheres in public records because of the merit of the evidence they contain. I do not refer, in a Jenkinsonian sense, to the sanctity of the evidence in archives that is derived from “unbroken custody.” I refer rather, and quite arbitrarily, to a value that depends on the importance of the matter evidenced, i.e. the organization and functioning of the agency that produced the records.Cook 1997, 27Schellenberg asserted that records had primary and secondary values. Primary value reflected the importance of records to their original creator; secondary value their use to subsequent researchers. Primary value related to the degree to which records served their creators on-going operational needs—not unlike Jenkinson allowing the determination of long-term value to rest with the “Administrator.” Secondary values, which Schellenberg sub-divided into evidential and informational values, were quite different, for they reflected the importance of records for secondary research by subsequent users, not primary use by their original creator. On this point, Schellenberg explicitly denied that his “evidential value” was linked to Jenkinson’s sense of archives as “evidence.” For Schellenberg, evidential values reflected the importance of records for researchers, not for administrators, in documenting the functions, programmes, policies, and procedures of the creator.Millar 2014, 108Their evidential value was secured by protecting and documenting their “chain of custody” – the trail of bread crumbs between creator and custodian.DiplomaticsLawthe quality or authenticity of a record to provide legal or historical proof or adequate evidenceGilliland-Swetland 2000a, 6Archival institutions enable legally constituted access to records, access that must also constantly address a range of legal concerns that become more pressing in the digital environment. These concerns include intellectual property, the privacy of individuals mentioned in materials, the conditions under which certain types of materials can be accessed and made available, and the protection of the integrity of digital materials from accidental or deliberate tampering. Concern for retaining the evidential value of records has placed the archival community at the vanguard of research and development in digital preservation and authentication.Vogt-O’Connor 2000Evidential value refers to the documents’ ability to serve as legal or historical proof of an activity, event, or occupation.Foscarini 2008, 39–40GILFAM, which is entrusted with the legal responsibility to provide access to the land registry in a fashion that preserves its evidential value “regardless of technological change”, claims that the control mechanisms embedded in the software guarantee the necessary flexibility for any future system upgrades. However, at the time the case study was carried out, it was still unclear how that was supposed to happen without breaking the “digital seal” attached to each document stored in the system. In addition, the issue of preserving the functionality and, implicitly, the evidential value of digital through technology evolution had not been addressed by the system administrators in any existing policy.Ma et al. 2008, 1To summarize the various definitions of evidential value [3, 8, 9], evidential value is the quality of the record that provides a legal proof, historical proof, authentic evidence, and adequate evidence about a) the creator of the record, b) the creation of the record from different perspectives, and c) the history of events and topics (activities, functions, policies, operations etc.) associated with the record. It is therefore essential that the history of the record is documented in a way that can be inspected, validated and reasoned about by authorized users so that it is possible to check and ensure that records have not been modified, abused or tampered with.Ma et al. 2009, 31As we have defined above, the historical information in the evidential value includes the data related to the modification, and can be used to detect modifications to the archival records.
In its first and still primary sense, evidential value1 relates to the ability of records to document the functions of an organization or any other creator of records. In this sense, it is distinguished from informational value, which is the overall usefulness of the content of the records. In recent decades, particularly in that body of archives literature focused on diplomatics and ensuring the trustworthiness of digital records, the term has come to be used essentially synonymously with evidentiary value, the importance of information presented in evidence, particularly if done so in the course of some legal matter.