n.the importance or usefulness of records that justifies their continued preservation because of the enduring administrative, legal, fiscal, or evidential information they containGracy 1973a, 24There was a time when arhives [sic] claimed only a geographical boundary, with the implied intention of seeking all documents within their territory. Facing an impossible chore, most of them concentrated on papers or collections of especial historical value. Fortunately for the researcher and for the documentation of our complex society, archives have begun to specialize in subject areas as well.Mason 1977, 41Archivists have often justified their pressure tactics on the basis that if they did not act decisively a donor might later discard or otherwise destroy important items in a collection because of failure to understand their historical value.Sigmond 1991, 147Since archivists cannot prophesy—something no one can blame them for—they should not be afraid to destroy what they think is of no historical value.Maher 1992, 106A flexible approach that alters description to meet the research needs and historical value of documents is what distinguishes archival practice from the more rigid and formalistic methods of librarians.Kunda and Nielsen 2011, 1The academic catalog is a vital record for colleges and universities, with longterm historical value for a variety of administrative, scholarly, and genealogical users. Archivists and campus officials have long understood the importance of the catalog, which contains general information about the university, tuition and fees, course descriptions, degree requirements, faculty lists, and, in earlier editions, student lists.Buehn 2013, 3The taboo regarding deaccessioning is the result of archivists being wary about throwing away materials that should be kept, whether because of legal obligation or the potential historical value of the documents.Bailey 2013, 8It can be argued that within this evolutionary process there is a clear progression through several different eras, beginning with a period that focused on identifying the historical value of government records for posterity only as a consideration secondary to ongoing operational requirements.the usefulness or significance of records for understanding the recorded human pastBrichford 1977, 20The Internal Revenue Service accepted appraisal estimates based on sales of individual items and calculations of the costs of copying and storage. None of these methods reflect the historical or scientific value of papers to institutions serving researchers.Ricks, Swafford, and Kay 1992, 81A records series may also have historical value. Historical value is based on the quality or content that causes a record of an event related to a particular project to be retained for purposes of history and not necessarily for business purposes.Mims 1996, 20Historical value is the long-term value of records to document past events.
Archivists employ the term historical value with varying degrees of specificity. Most commonly, they use the term to mean the value of records to support any use regarding the past. Occasionally, however, archivists use historical value, in contradistinction to the broader archival value, to mean the value of a record to support the study of human history.