fat file

n. a file of records considered more likely to be important because it is larger than usual


The concept that “fat files” might be more important than smaller files, along with the term itself, probably began with the work Michael Stephen Hindus and his colleagues did appraising and sampling the files of the Massachusetts Superior Court in the 1970s. The idea behind this concept is that files become larger when they represent more contentious, more complicated, and, thus, more important and historical issues. However, some archivists question the validity of this concept. There is no set term for the concept of the importance of the fat file, so archivists use various terms, such as “fat file hypothesis,” “fat file method,” and “fat file theory.” Although this term was created with the concept of paper records in mind, it also works conceptually with digital records.