n.the usefulness or significance of a record derived from its physical or associational qualities, inherent in its original form and generally independent of its content, that are integral to its material nature and would be lost in reproductionHam 1993, 60The qualities and characteristics defining intrinsic value also include the study of the physical form as evidence of technological development—a daguerreotype or letterpress copybook are examples. Intrinsic value may also come from aesthetic or artistic quality such as a Frank Lloyd Wright architectural sketch. It may come from the association of the record with famous people, places, and events such as the original manuscript of John F. Kennedy’s 1961 inaugural address, or from high-level policy formulations with broad impact such as the United Nations Charter. The documents of greatest intrinsic value, of course, are national symbols such as the Declaration of Independence and the Gettsyburg [sic] Address.Schellenberg 1994, 167In determining if microphotographic reduction is feasible the archivist should consider the answers to the following questions: . . . ¶Do the records have intrinsic values that justify their preservation in their original form?McRanor 1996, 402In 1979, the concept [of intrinsic value] took on a more central role upon its invocation by the National Archives and Records Service, following the demand of the General Services Agency that the institution microfilm all its records and destroy the originals.NARA 1999All record materials having intrinsic value possess one or more of the following specific qualities or characteristics. These qualities or characteristics relate to the physical nature of the records, their prospective uses, and the information they contain. 1. Physical form that may be the subject for study if the records provide meaningful documentation or significant examples of the form. – 2. Aesthetic or artistic quality. – 3. Unique or curious physical features. – 4. Age that provides a quality of uniqueness. – 5. Value for use in exhibits. – 6. Questionable authenticity, date, author, or other characteristic that is significant and ascertainable by physical examination. – 7. General and substantial public interest because of direct association with famous or historically significant people, places, things, issues, or events. – 8. Significance as documentation of the establishment or continuing legal basis of an agency or institution. – 9. Significance as documentation of the formulation of policy at the highest executive levels when the policy has significance and broad effect throughout or beyond the agency or institution.Ritzenthaler 2010, 32–33The archivist should regard archival materials from a number of perspectives and attach values accordingly. Intrinsic value, which relates to the physical attributes or associations of a document and its intellectual content, is important in this context. Is the physical form a subject for study? Does the item have artistic or aesthetic merit? Does it have exhibit potential? Records that have intrinsic value are normally maintained in their original format, though such records that receive high use may be ideal candidates for copying or reformatting to preserve their informational content and protect the originals from excess handling.Ritzenthaler 2010, 377“Intrinsic value” Term used to define or describe the qualities of archival materials in their original formats and typically independent of informational content. Records have intrinsic value or not, depending upon such factors as uniqueness, value, age, physical format, artistic or aesthetic qualities, and scarcity. Materials having intrinsic value generally warrant preservation intervention as necessary to retain their original form, while records lacking intrinsic value often can be copied to preserve informational content.Hager 2015, 32Of course, the Constitution is the epitome of a document with intrinsic value, but an institution need not post an item with equivalent intrinsic value to meet this guideline. Intrinsic value for Facebook content is not quite the same as intrinsic value evaluated when making appraisal decisions for content accessioning. While looking at “the thing itself” is still important, other factors play a role in increasing the intrinsic value of an item.
Intrinsic value may include an item’s form, layout, materials, or process. It may also be based on an item’s direct relationship to a significant person, activity, event, organization, or place. Intrinsic value is independent of informational or evidential value. A record may have great intrinsic value without significant informational or evidential value; records with significant informational or evidential value may have little intrinsic value. The process of copying a document may sufficiently capture its informational or evidential value but fail to preserve some aspects of the material nature of the original—its intrinsic value—that merit preservation. Hence, documents with significant intrinsic value are often preserved in their original form.For example, a document written by a famous individual, such as a signature on a scrap of paper, may tell us little about the person. However, the document may have intrinsic value if it is the only surviving specimen of a document written by the individual. The document may have intrinsic value if it is made using a process of historical interest, such as inks made from flowers.