Minnesota method

n. a strategy for selecting records that combines aspects of collection analysis, documentation strategy, appraisal, and functional analysis


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.


Jimerson 1998 The 'Minnesota Method' [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.