n.a strategy for selecting records that combines aspects of collection analysis, documentation strategy, appraisal, and functional analysisFode and Fink 1997, 79The real shortcoming of the Minnesota Method from our point of view lies in thefact that it has chosen to concentrate on the rich, the big, and the successful—which definitely merit collection and storing—but tends to forget the simple and the common, and thus will end up with a distorted picture of the past.Jimerson 1998The “Minnesota Method” they [Mark A. Greene and Todd J. Daniels-Howell] developed is based on the assumption that “all archival appraisal is local and subjective,” but that, through careful analysis of both records creators and the records themselves, archivists can establish appraisal and selection criteria that are “rational and efficient relative to a specific repository’s goals and resources.” The strategy they propose includes: defining a collecting area; analyzing existing collections; determining the documentary universe, including relevant government records, printed and other sources; prioritizing industrial sectors, individual businesses, geographic regions, and time periods from which records will be sought; defining functions performed by businesses and the collecting levels needed to document major functions; connecting documentary levels to priority tiers; and updating this process every three to seven years. They outline priority factors used in making these decisions, documentation levels, and decision points to refine the priority levels. This Minnesota Method combines features of archival approaches to collection analysis, documentation strategy, appraisal, and functional analysis.Hyry, Kaplan, and Weideman 2002, 59The “Minnesota Method” was developed by Mark Greene, Todd Daniels-Howell, and other staff members at the Minnesota Historical Society (MHS) to articulate a systematic strategy for collecting business records in the state of Minnesota.Hyry, Kaplan, and Weideman 2002, 60The six steps of the Minnesota Method are designed to be followed sequentially, but we did not do so.Boles 2005, 109In Minnesota, this selectivity was facilitated by creating “documentation levels.” MHS created five documentation levels, identified by the letters A through D, and “do not collect.” . . . ¶ If this was not the goal, the Minnesota Method acknowledges that among acceptable materials, some merit more work than other material.Hughes 2014, 277Documentation strategy and its sister initiatives like the Minnesota Method attempt to combat, in part, the gaps, duplications of effort, and rigidity of a system that stopped at the boundaries of a given institution.Hughes 2014, 278Though the brainchild of a single institution—the Minnesota Historical Society (MHS)—the Minnesota Method offers a similar means of grappling with the records of multiple organizations. In a project designed to systematize the collecting of modern business records, the MHS engineered a five-tier schema in which each tier corresponds to a certain level of collecting.Robyns 2014, 54, fn. 2The exception is the so-called Minnesota Method, developed and used by the Historical Society of Minnesota in the appraisal of business records. The method is more in line with regional documentation strategies than institutional functional analysis or macroappraisal but does incorporate elements of both.
Mark A. Greene and Todd J. Daniels-Howell developed this pragmatic approach to selection while working at the Minnesota Historical Society in the 1990s. Their aim was to balance their efforts to document business with all other documentary areas by developing a method to make better, more rational, choices about which of the state’s large volume of business records to collect.