Monday, July 28, 2014

Not everything needs to be retained forever! : an appraisal lesson


front
back
 This is a deed between Orrin Harmon and his wife, Camilla, to Adam Yarck for 25 acres of land in Ravenna Township, Portage County, Ohio, 1835. The  property sold for $81.25.  It is signed by Orrin, Camilla, and two witnesses. On the back is a note that Camilla agreed to the sale of the property, separately from her husband, before Judge Elias Harmon, a process required to protect her rights. Another note states that the deed was recorded July 25, 1835 in Portage County, Book V, on pages 324-325, by the Recorder, a Mr. Skinner. The deed is now in six pieces, broken along the fold lines, with a few acid stains.



This manuscript is outside of our collecting scope. This deed is from 1835, after Ohio gained statehood, so it should go to Ohio. However, none of the Ohio archives want it, because it is a personal deed and they already have the information recorded in official volumes. 

I will probably add this to my Archives Administration class examples to discuss deeds, early paper, wear and tear on documents, collecting policies, and appraisal.

What is archival appraisal? A process of deciding the value of a primary source (manuscript or archival collection) using various  archival appraisal theories to determine whether or not to retain it. Some of the appraisal points I consider are:

What is its evidential value? Is it information necessary to document the organization and function of an institution or department?

What is its informational value? What does the information tell us about people, places, things, events?

What is the intrinsic value? For example, a letter with blood or tear stains on it has intrinsic value that is more powerful than a transcription of the letter.

There are some of the other points to consider as well.
Does it fit our collecting policy?
Does another institution already collect material on this subject or generated by this creator?
Are there special requirements for access, storage, duplication, or conservation?


Are there political reasons to retain it?

Do we have the resources to acquire, process, catalog, house, and provide access to it?



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