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Jari Lybeck Project manager, National Archives of Finland

Appraisal 2000 is a major project of the Finnish National Archives that aims at the definition and codification of the principles and criteria of appraisal. The Finnish appraisal tradition has been quite pragmatic and the idea is to introduce a more theoretical and systematic approach to this field. My presentation is divided into four sections. First, I will make a short terminological excursion which is followed by a survey of some trends in recent international debate on appraisal, seen from a Finnish perspective. The third section is about the characteristics of the Finnish appraisal tradition and the fourth about the project Appraisal 2000 itself, its organization and content.

Terminology: appraisal, disposal and archival value The ICA Dictionary of Archival Terminology (1988) defines appraisal as a basic archival function of determining the eventual disposal of records based upon their archival value. Also referred to as evaluation, review, selection or selective retention.1 Disposal for its part means, according to the same dictionary the actions taken with regard to non-current records following their appraisal and the expiration of their retention periods as provided for by legislation, regulation or administrative procedure. Frequently used as synonymous with destruction.2 These definitions also correspond to the Finnish reality. The concept of appraisal is covered by the term arvonmritys and that of disposal by the term seulonta. However, national differences in archival concepts and terminology are present even here. In the Finnish context it is not quite natural to speak about archival value because all records of a records creator, irrespective of the records position in the life-cycle or their status with regard to the appraisal procedure, are regarded as archives. The term that is usually employed in this connection is research value which is very nearly the same thing. Very nearly but not quite. Archival value, which justifies the indefinite or permanent retention of records, can relate, according to the ICA Dictionary, not only to evidential and informational values, which are comparable to our research value but also to administrative, fiscal and legal values.3 These values exist, of course, in the Finnish context too, but there is no one concept, such as archival value, that would combine these different values together. We speak about administrative value, fiscal value etc. on the one hand and about research value on the other hand. It is rare but not unique that some other value than research value is the primary justification for the indefinite or permanent retention of records.


In Finland we do not always make a distiction between appraisal and disposal, as terms, when we discuss archival matters. For the sake of shortness the term seulonta, disposal, is often used to cover both the concepts of appraisal and disposal. As regards the ICA Dictionary, it is interesting that in a draft version for a new edition of the book the concept of appraisal has become more faceted. It is called not only a basic archival function but a basic records management function as well. Besides administrative, legal, and fiscal use and evidential and informational value the draft definition mentions also the arrangement of the records and their condition as well as their relationship to other records as relevant factors influencing appraisal.4 With regard to the term disposal, the draft version for the new edition of the ICA Dictionary is, I think, more balanced than the present official edition. The draft definition mentions explicitly the possibility of transferring the records to an archives; the other possibility is destruction. In the present definition the emphasis is on the latter possibility.

International discussion: main points from a Finnish perspective Internationally, there has been a lot of discussion and debate on the theoretical grounds of appraisal in recent years, especially in the Anglo-Saxon archival world.

The United States and Canada Content versus evidence A great deal of American discussion on appraisal circles, in one way or another, around the question of the relative importance of the content of records, on the one hand and their importance as evidence, on the other hand. With respect to appraisal, the figure of Theodore Schellenberg has dominated the American and to a great extent also the international scene for decades. Also from the Finnish point of view Schellenbergs writings have a special importance. His views on the primary and secondary value of records and the subdivision of the latter to evidential and informational value have been well established in Finnish archival circles since the 1960s. Since the beginning of the 1980s there has been a new upsurge of discussion on principles and strategies of appraisal in the United States and Canada. The traditional emphasis on the content of records has been challenged by theories that stress evidence and accountability as the fundamental values that must be safeguarded when appraising records; records content is a secondary consideration. Electronic records constitute an important background factor for this development. Evidence and accountability have become increasingly difficult concepts in the context of electronic records, requiring attention and definition. A somewhat confusing factor in this shift of emphasis is the terminology that is used. The concept of evidence is especially problematic. It is sometimes used quite legalistically in a way that makes the concepts of evidence and accountability virtually identical. Schellenbergs notion on evidence and evidential value was broader, comprising an informational element as 17

well.5 Unfortunately there is also some confusion about Schellenbergs concept of evidence. Angelika Menne-Haritz has argued that Schellenberg did not mean that only decisions about procedures and policy, strategic plans, guidelines, organisation charts and similar records have evidential value. She writes, that evidence is something that must be read between the lines, and that is not necessarily to be found in the texts themselves. Evidence means patterns or processes, aims and mandates, procedures and results, as they can be examined. Symbols and other annotations on a record or a folder or a slip of paper attached to a record indicating a certain working order, for example, can constitute an important part of evidence.6 Interpreted this way, Schellenberg comes surprisingly close to the modern evidentialists. However, that does not change the fact that Schellenberg also put a great emphasis on informational value, that is, the content of the records which is something the evidentialists do not agree with. Luciana Duranti (Canada) and David Bearman (USA) are the leading evidentialists on the international scene. Luciana Duranti rejects the content approach in appraisal altogether. All notions of documenting society are to her betrayal of the archivists mission. According to Duranti, the ultimate purpose of archival endeavors is to hand down to the next generations reliable, trustworthy, and complete testimony of societal actions so that they can constitute sources of, and foundations for, future decision making.7 David Bearmans work on archival theory is focused on electronic records. In this connection, the questions of authenticity and reliability are of vital importance. Like Duranti Bearman rejects the content approach and stresses the importance of the context of records creation. In terms of appraisal this means that the traditional focus on the records themselves, the concrete, must be shifted to the process and context of their creation, the conceptual. To Bearman records are not carriers of content but evidence of transactions. The concept of evidence is to Bearman closely related to that of accountability. 8 In Luciana Durantis and David Bearmans thinking one can see the rebirth of the ideas of Sir Hilary Jenkinson, the leading British archival theorist. Jenkinson firmly rejected the content oriented research approach to managing archives and emphasised the archivists duty to defend the integrity and evidential quality of the archives. Jenkinsons core concepts of impartiality, authenticity, naturalness and interrelationship which he maintained to be the essential qualities of all archives have found great resonance in Luciana Durantis and other evidentialists thinking. As regards appraisal specifically, Jenkinson did not view it as an archival issue at all. The archivist takes into custody those records that the records creator decides to give him, that is all.9 The evidentialist approach is by no means the only approach in American appraisal theory today. The so called documentation strategy whose main developer is Helen Samuels represents the other end of the continuum. Documentation strategy, which appeared on the scene of appraisal theory during the latter half of the 1980s, tries to provide as comprehensive and accurate an image of society as possible. In order to achieve this archivists and other relevant players in the field, records creators, administrators, users etc. must define the main themes, issues or geographical areas that are to be documented and then collect materials that cover these predefined themes, issues or areas. The approach is multi-institutional. Besides archives it should involve libraries, research institutes, documentation centres etc. A radical departure from the traditional tasks of an archivist is Samuels idea that in case of missing documentation archivists should adopt an active role; they should produce documentation themselves or at least advise relevant parties to do so. Documentation strategy does not reject, in its revised 18

version, the principle of provenance or deny the need for the functional analysis of recordscreators.10 These principles are not, however (according to the critique), at the core of attention but function rather as a kind of structural framework that helps to reach the aims of documentation strategy.11 Another approach that aims at documenting society is the so called acquisition strategy which is represented, among others, by Terry Cook. Although the goal of these strategies is in principle the same, their basic assumptions are quite different. While documentation strategy is content-oriented, acquisition strategy is function-oriented. Records creators, their structure and their mandated functions are at the centre of attention in acquisition strategy. 12 Also documentation strategy talks about the importance of functions but Terry Cook, for example, has pointed out that the approach is not truly provenance based and does not pay enough attention to the mandated functions of records creators and the structural and other context of records creation. It is artificial functions, themes chosen by archivists and experts, that are looked for when the appraisal of the records of a given records creator takes place.13 Both documentation strategy and acquisition strategy can be grouped, despite their differences, under the same heading, namely that of macro-appraisal. The essential thing in the macroappraisal approach is the shifting of emphasis from the records themselves to records creators and/or their functions. The assessment of records creators and functions is the way to identify records that are worth permanent preservation.14 Besides documentation and acquisition strategies David Bearmans views can also be described as macro-appraisal because Bearman stresses the primacy of transactions. In appraisal we should raise our view from records to transactions. He writes that we need to appraise business functions, deciding before any records are created at all, what documentation it is desirable to create and retain for a given function.15 Macro-appraisal has attracted much attention not only in the USA but in Europe, too. The Swiss Federal Archives Service, for example, has developed an elaborate macro-appraisal strategy which is based on the assessment of administrative bodies, their tasks, competences and degree of independence. The Dutch governments famous PIVOT project is also a good example of systematic macro-appraisal. In Finland, too, a kind of macro-appraisal approach has been applied since the 1980s. This has happened in the context of the so called records management schedules. - Raimo Pohjola will tell you more about this in his presentation. Germany Developments in Germany with regard to appraisal theory are especially interesting from the Finnish point of view because German thinking has had a great influence in Finland, also in archival matters. In Prussian archives appraisal and disposal were already known in the 19th century but the approach was wholly pragmatic. It was not until the 1920s and 1930s that appraisal began to be viewed from a more theoretical perspective. The importance of the principle of provenance was stressed as the basis of appraisal as well as other archival functions. The idea of the importance of administrative hierarchy was closely attached to this emphasis. The records of the central and intermediate administration were regarded, generally speaking, as more important than those of the local administration. Horizontal differences were taken into considerati-


on too: some organisations of the central administration were more important than the others.16 After the second world war the content orientation became dominant in German appraisal. The concept of evidential value and other ideas of the American Th. Schellenberg were, according to Angelika Menne-Haritz, largely unknown or at least undebated in Germany until the 1980s.17 The content approach to appraisal reached its culmination at the beginning of the 1970s in the theory of Hans Booms, who later became Director-General of the Bundesarchiv. He maintained that the principle of provenance is not an adequate means of appraisal. Instead of paying attention to provenance, archivists should aim at a complete documentation of society at a given time. A special documentation plan would be needed as an instrument to reach this goal. The plan should be based on the current values and interests of society. A board, representing various interests groups, should review the documentation plan regularly. Booms theory, which he himself has later rejected, comes very near the American documentation strategy concept. Booms ideas also have special interest on account of being put into practice, not in the Federal Republic of Germany but in the former DDR where a so called Framework Documentation Profile was developed in the early 1980s, listing about five hundred events that ought to be documented.18 Todays leading German archival theorist Angelika Menne-Haritz tries, if I have understood her correctly, to bridge the gulf between evidence and content oriented approaches. Without evidence it is not possible to judge and interpret information that is contained in records. She writes: [...] the role of evidence can be described as the insight into the primary purposes as a necessary supplement for informational values, without which the latter are meaningless or could be interpreted in the wrong way or are simply trivial. According to Menne-Haritz, [...] evidence is an aim, not a tool, for archival appraisal.19 Her approach is, in fact, exactly that of the methodology used in historical research. Information contained in sources are interpreted through the lens of contextual information available, that is, evidence. It seems to me that the present content versus evidence debate is very much an American debate. The importance of the so called manuscript tradition in American archival thinking and practice which stressed the importance of content and did not pay so much attention to provenance and context has led to a kind of counter reaction, the rediscovery of provenance and, consequently, of evidence. In Europe where the historical and contextual approach has deeper roots no such counter reaction has been needed. I think this difference between American and European traditions does not, however, constititute the only background factor for the debate. Electronic records have forced archivists to reconsider the relationship between content and evidence. American archival theorists have been more active in this rethinking than their European colleagues. Sweden The National Archives Service of Sweden has in recent years been very active in developing its policies and procedures in many fields of archival activity. Appraisal is one of these fields. The Swedish appraisal tradition has been rather pragmatic, theoretical questions have not played a major role. Great emphasis has been put on the organization of appraisal and disposal. The Swedish line in disposal has been rather mild. The need of disposal is acknowled20

ged, of course, but due to the extensive control and information needs based on the Swedish Freedom of Information legislation ca. 20 percent of the records produced by the public administration are preserved permanently. In the 1990s theoretical questions of appraisal have surfaced in Sweden. In 1995 the National Archives published a policy paper on appraisal called Bevarandet av nutiden, The Preservation of Today, which presents, on a general level, the goals and criteria of appraisal. Two basic things, of equal importance, have to be taken into consideration in appraisal. Records give information: - first, about the functions they are connected with - second, about the world outside the respective records creator While assessing the research value of records, great emphasis is put on certain formal criteria such as uniqueness, continuity, quality, level of aggregation, functional relationship of the records to other records, accessibility and survey possibility etc.20 Recent developments in Sweden have been a great source of inspiration to us and encouraged us to launch the project Appraisal 2000. If we take a longer time perspective, it can be pointed out that sampling has played an important role in Swedish appraisal. This emphasis has also influenced Finnish practices in which sampling plays a rather important role. Finland The Finnish tradition in appraisal has been a pragmatic one, just like in Sweden. It can be argued that the legal framework has been more important than appraisal theories in Finnish appraisal. The first appraisal decision made by the National Archives dates from the 1860s but organised activity in this field regulated by definite legislation and set procedures did not begin until the end of the second world war. The first Finnish Archives Act is from the year 1939.21 According to this law administrative authorities were not allowed to destroy any records without the consent of the National Archives. The next Archives Act22 from the year 1981 gave a more active role to the National Archives. It was stipulated, first, that unauthorised disposal of records is forbidden (Section 7) and, second, that the disposal of records shall be governed by general directives or individual decisions issued by the National Archives and, further, when necessary, the National Archives may order an authority or agency to submit a proposal concerning disposable records in its archives (Section 19). The role of the National Archives was strengthened but the focus was still on records that could be destroyed, not on the identification of records that were worth permanent preservation. The present Archives Act23 from the year 1994 changed the situation again by stipulating that the National Archives Service shall determine which records or information therein shall be preserved permanently (Section 8). The focus is on permanent preservation. As regards disposable records, it is now the records creators themselves that shall determine different retention periods for these records.


At the end of the 1940s a special board was established which included representatives of the National Archives Service as well as administrators and researchers. The board gave advice to the National Archives in appraisal matters. The board was dissolved at the beginning of the 1970s. Since that time the role of the research community in appraisal has been rather small. The use of sampling can be seen as one of the characteristics of Finnish appraisal. A sampling method based on date of birth, developed in the 1960s, is used in the disposal of some large materials including hospital patient records, taxation records and records of social welfare. Behind this interest in sampling it is possible to see the influence of American and Swedish archival theories and practices.24 The use of sampling is closely connected with another typically Finnish thing which is the emphasis on representativity. We do not pay special attention to documenting great persons or elite groups, for example, but try to get the whole of society, including the common man, represented in the records chosen for permanent retention.25 To mention a third Finnish characteristic, it is the so called pre-appraisal which is now a dominant mode of appraisal. Since the beginning of the 1980s every administrative authority must have a list called a records management schedule which contains information about the growing series within a records creator in question, the internal order of the series, the mode of registration (if any) of the records in the series as well as the retention periods of the records. These schedules are an important tools for records managers and other administrators working in administrative authorities. Besides that they serve as appraisal proposals that are submitted to the National Archives which determines which series, or records within a series, are to be retained permanently. Records management schedules should cover also electronic records and databases but in this regard there are often deficiences. The idea in using records management schedules as appraisal proposals is that decisions on retention periods should be made as early as possible in the records life-cycle. - Raimo Pohjola will tell you more about records management schedules and the concept of pre-appraisal in his presentation. Finally, if we take a look at the foreign influences that have most shaped Finnish archival thinking and practices, we can point to two countries, Sweden and Germany and, after the second world war, also to the United States. In general, it can be said that the influence of Sweden has been very strong in the Finnish archival field. Six hundred years of common history, including common administration and common archival practices have left their mark. A special classification scheme that determines the structure, that is, the relationship between series, within an accrued archives is unknown, as far as I know, outside Sweden and Finland. The scheme was developed in Sweden at the beginning of this century and it was adopted in Finland, in a somewhat modified form, in the 1940s. The field of sampling is an area which I have already mentioned where Swedish examples stimulated our practices. Sometimes the influence has been the other way round. The Finnish Archives Act had, undoubtedly, some influence on the first Swedish Archives Act that was enacted in 1990. There is no doubt about the importance of Germany in archival matters in Finland but it is difficult, as Eljas Orrman has pointed out, to be specific without detailed research which is lacking. According to Orrman, the importance of administrative hierarchy that has been an important appraisal criterion in Finland is possibly due, at least partly, to the appraisal guidelines that were developed in Germany in the 1920s and 1930s. Another tradition which might be traced to Germany is the tradition of determining copies of all the out-going letters of a 22

records creator for permanent preservation. This was an established practice in Finland up to the 1960s. In the field of terminology, the word seulonta, disposal, is a direct translation of the German word Sichtung which was used, for a while, with the same meaning in German archival terminology. It was later replaced, however, by the terms Bewertung and Kassation.26 The American influence has been felt particularly in the field of appraisal through the writings of Theodore Schellenberg. His ideas gave a kind of theoretical framework that was flexible enough to suit Finnish pragmatism. Perhaps records management schedules owe something to the American models too, especially to records management programs that are obligatory to all Federal authorities. In fact, in the whole field of Finnish records management it is possible to see American influences. In theoretical matters the American influence has been less marked. Finnish archivists have followed the American discussion on archival theory that has taken place in the 1980s and 1990s but this discussion has not had much effect on Finnish archival practices.

Appraisal 2000
It is widely acknowledged, both in Finland and internationally, that appraisal is one of the most important strategic tasks of archival work, perhaps it is the most important strategic task. The coming of electronic records and databases onto the scene has not removed the need for appraisal and disposal, on the contrary, it has made them even more important. Today the questions of appraisal enjoy a high priority in the National Archives Service. We acknowledge that the pragmatic approach that has been dominant in Finnish appraisal has had its advantages. It is a solid tradition shaped since the 1940s by experienced archivists. The lack of any grand theory has in itself been a safeguard against biased appraisal. If there is a serious flaw or bias in a grand theory then all decisions based on it are flawed, too. In a pragmatic tradition you are likely to make good decisions as well as bad ones. Less harm is done in this way compared with the application of a single grand theory that is flawed. However, it is also acknowledged that there is a need for a more theoretical approach. We should examine our tradition critically, codify and refine the principles that have been applied and review the variety of appraisal theories developed in America and elsewhere and possibly apply some of them in order to enhance the quality of our appraisal activity. This is the background for the so called Appraisal 2000 Project which was started in the National Archives during the first half of 1997. The project is carried on in the Records Management Unit which is responsible, among other things, for the preparation of appraisal decisions as well as for the development of the theoretical grounds of appraisal. The project is organised so that a so called core group consisting of two people prepares proposals and drafts which are then discussed in a larger group which includes the whole Records Management Unit, that is, six people. Particularly, I want to mention the contribution of Mr Markku Leppnen who is a kind of primus motor in the whole project as well as that of Mr Paavo Hanhisalo whose long experience in the field of appraisal is invaluable to the project. Mr Leppnen and Mr Hanhisalo comprise the core group mentioned above.


The progress of the project has been rather slow because the Records Management Unit is a very busy unit with a great variety of tasks and the resources available are quite limited (the same can be said, of course, of all the units of the National Archives!). The basis of the project will be widened later and more units of the National Archives as well as the Provincial Archives (seven in number) and other relevant parties will be invited to take part in it. We are still, however, at a preparatory stage clearing the grounds, so to speak. Appraisal 2000 has three goals: - to produce a policy paper on appraisal for the National Archives Service - to produce a manual for those who prepare appraisal decisions in the National Archives Service - to produce guidelines on appraisal and the making of appraisal proposals for administrative authorities Producing a manual for those preparing appraisal decisions is the main task of the project. The other two products, the policy paper and the guidelines, can be derived from this core product. At this stage we have concluded that the manual should consist of at least the following subject areas: - concepts and goals of appraisal and its legal framework - ethical rules of appraisal and the professional qualifications of those who do appraisal work - process of making appraisal decisions - policy, strategy, principles and criteria of appraisal - sampling and its methods - needs of scientific research - special characteristics of the appraisal of electronic records One of the critical points in this construction is how to define the content of the concepts of policy, strategy, principle and criterion and how they relate to one another. One possible solution that has been sketched by the project group is as follows: The general goals of appraisal form the starting point. According to these goals, the records that have been determined for permanent preservation should contain information that is significant for individuals and society as a whole. The information should be in as compact and usable form as possible and the preservation costs per unit as low as possible. Now we come to the hierarchy of concepts mentioned above. Policy is the most general concept of them all. The appraisal policy of the National Archives Service could be defined as a policy that aims at the realisation of the general goals of appraisal. Appraisal strategy gives a framework and direction to this realisation. The strategy includes four approaches or points of view that have to be taken into consideration. They are - records creator - archives - themes and issues - scientific research As regards principles and criteria, principles are more general in nature than criteria which set definite rules for appraisal. Let us take an example. A statement that the oldest records are to 24

be preserved permanently is a principle. The rule that administrative records created before the year 1920 must be preserved permanently is a criterion attached to this principle. Principles are frameworks within which one can fix exact criteria. The manual will operate mainly on the level of principles. We have come to the conclusion that only in exceptional cases should we try to establish exact, binding criteria. The manual cannot be a recipe book that gives a ready made solution to every possible situation that may arise in appraisal. A big strategic question is how to react to the international developments in the field of appraisal. Sweden, the United States and Canada are the relevant directions for us in this respect. As regards North America, the project has followed the evidence versus content debate very closely. Is there something in this debate that puts the Finnish tradition in a wholly new perspective and forces us to change course radically? We have come to the conclusion that this is not the case. As I mentioned earlier, we think that the evidence versus content controversy is essentially an American thing, originating from the clash between the manuscript collection and archives traditions. The evidential perspective has always been there in Finland, at least from the beginning of this century, and so I believe it has been in other European countries too. Finnish archival theory and practice have been so closely connected with historical research and its methods that the importance of evidence is so to say etched in the minds of the archivist. The difference between records bearing evidence and other forms of documentation has been clear. As regards the manual we are working on, we must, however, stress the importance of the evidential aspect in the light of the recent international discussion and formulate clearly the grounds for its importance. This in order to ensure continuity in the tradition which is already there. This is doubly important because the connection between arhivistique and history is become somewhat less close than it has been in the past. This being said, what about content and its role in appraisal? We think that it would be quite unnatural to deny the importance of the role of records content in appraisal. That would be the same as to deny our whole appraisal tradition. The enormous volume of records makes appraisal and disposal necessary, everyone agrees with that. Some pieces of information contained in records is regarded as more important and interesting than some other pieces of information. This importance and interest is based on various things that involve basic rights and duties, accountability, functioning of democracy, research interests etc. It is not, of course, any absolute truths that guide appraisal and disposal but assessments that are made by certain people in a certain moment of time in a certain social and cultural context. The evidentialists are not very good at giving practical advice how to conduct appraisal. Luciana Durantis article The Concept of Appraisal and Archival Theory is an example of that. Duranti rejects the approaches both of documentation strategy and acquisition strategy. She acknowledges the need for selection but refuses to enter the territory of the methodology of selection. She stresses the ultimate purpose of archival endeavours which is to hand down to the next generations a reliable, trustworthy, and complete testimony of societal actions so that they can constitute sources of, and foundations for, future decision making. How to make this purpose and the need for selection compatible? Duranti gives no advice; she is content only to refer to the need for study and research of archival methods.27


We do not think that documentation strategy is the thing that will solve the problems of appraisal. The project Appraisal 2000 does not try to compose a comprehensive list of themes and issues that should be documented. The most we might do in this direction is that we perhaps name some core sectors of societal activity that have special importance for society as a whole and which are also likely to be of great importance in the future. Political decision making and strategic planning of society, environment, population and the various aspects connected with it, economy and labour, for example, could be regarded as such core sectors. Records content and the interests of scientific research are, naturally, closely related issues. There are literally dozens of different branches of science and research that are either wholly dependent on archival sources or at least can, at some point of research, exploit them. Also within individual branches of science and research using records there are a great number of different schools and approaches that employ a great variety of methods. It would be quite impossible for people preparing appraisal decisions to acquaint themselves with this huge spectrum of potential scientific use of archives and follow the development of different approaches and methodologies. We try, however, to make the fact of this variety very clear in the manual, to remind the reader of it, so to speak. For experienced archivists all this is wellknown and self-evidential. The manual is not, however, meant only for experienced archivists but also for those who are novices in the field of appraisal. Our project acknowledges the importance of organisations, their functions, competences and interrelationships. In fact, our approach is near to that of the acquisition strategy which I mentioned at the beginning of my presentation. We should try to identify the core functions of authorities and assess their importance in the big picture, taking into consideration the degree of independence of the authorities in question and the effect of their activities on society as a whole. The issues of content and functions are closely related. The functions taken care of by the authorities that enjoy a great degree of independence in their decision making and application of decisions and have a great effect on societal developments, these functions and their records are likely to be interesting also from the content point of view. It is also important to get a picture of the authorities themselves, their policies, decision making processes and other internal functioning. How deep and detailed this picture should be, is a matter that has aroused some debate in Finland. In recent years a stricter line with regard to the disposal of records pertaining to the functioning of authorities has been adopted. The general disposal directive28 for government agencies, issued by the National Archives in November 1997, allows the disposal of a wide range of internal records. The policy records as well as records connected with strategic planning are taken into permanent preservation but records reflecting internal education and training as well as leisure activities of the employees, for example, are heavily disposed of. It is possible that this policy needs some revision. What about the appraisal of electronic records and databases? How will this issue be dealt with in the manual we are planning? As a matter of fact the Finnish National Archives had already issued guidelines29 on this subject in 1992. The updating of the guidelines is going on as a separate project and a new edition of the guidelines is about to be published in the near future. This question will be dealt with also in the manual as well as in the appraisal guidelines meant for administrative authorities which is one of the target products of the project. We hope that the manual and the guidelines will be completed before the end of the year 2001. They will then replace the separate guidelines on the appraisal of electronic records.


The present guidelines (1992) on the appraisal of electronic records contain a lot of material that is continuously relevant and will also be included in the future products of the project Appraisal 2000. As regards the determination of research value of electronic materials, the guidelines presents two sets of criteria: structural criteria and content criteria. The structural criteria are especially useful because they are more exact and easier to apply than the content criteria. The structural criteria, which are quite similar to those mentioned in the Swedish policy paper called Bevarandet av nutiden, involve issues connected with - uniqueness of the information - level of aggregation - possibility of applying different approaches in treating the materials - possibility of linking information with other sources - extent of the materials - temporal coverage - areal coverage - technical quality The last named criterion, technical quality, involves further issues, such as - age of the materials - physical condition - records structure - quality of the documentation - usability These issues are still relevant and have to be taken into consideration in the manual. What other issues there are connected specifically with the appraisal of electronic records is a big question that requires a lot of work in the project group. One important source of guidance is the survey on the electronic materials produced in the central administration and research institutions, conducted by the National Archives in 1994. The survey report contained some recommendations on appraisal, too. - Raimo Pohjola will talk more about the survey in his presentation. As regards the appraisal both of traditional and electronic materials, the documentation of appraisal decisions is a major issue. Whatever principles and criteria are applied in individual decisions, the grounds for them must exist in written documentation. The principles and criteria of appraisal can never be wholly objective and undisputed. The documentation of them and the whole appraisal procedure gives posterity the possibility to understand the motivation behind individual appraisal decisions.


Conclusions The project Appraisal 2000 is firmly based on the Finnish appraisal tradition; it does not try to revolutionise it. At the same time we have followed the international debate on appraisal and examined the possibilities of applying the ideas presented in this debate. The approach of Appraisal 2000 could be described as eclectic. We are not committed to any grand theory but aim at a balanced view that takes different perspectives and approaches into account. The evidential aspect is very important and in the electronic environment doubly so. In itself this is nothing new in the Finnish appraisal tradition. Content is important too, but in the framework of records creators' mandated functions, not in the sense of predetermined documentation strategy.#

Dictionary of Archival Terminology, ICA Handbook Series, 2nd revised edition, edited by Peter Walne (Mnchen, New Y ork, Lond on, Paris, 1 988), p. 1 7, term no. 2 3. Ibid., p. 55, term no. 134. Ibid., p. 19, term no. 30. A draft versio n of the third ed ition of the ICA Dictionary: http //:staff-www.uni-marb ennehar/d atiii/html.

T.R. Sc hellenberg , The Appraisal of modern public records, Bulletins of the National Archives, number 8 (Wash ington, D.C ., Octobe r 1956) , pp. 6-22 . Angelika M enne-Ha ritz, Appraisa l or Docu mentation: C an We Appraise Archives b y Selecting Co ntent, The American Archivist 57:3 (Summer 1994), pp. 537-538.
7 6

Luciana D uranti, The C oncept o f Appraisa l and Archiv al Theo ry, The Ame rican Archivist 57:2 (Spring 1994), p. 343.

David B earman, A rchival Strateg ies, The Ame rican Archivist 58:4 (1995), pp. 391-406; Terry Cook, The Impact of David Bearma n on Mo dern Arc hival Think ing: An Essay o f Personal R eflection and Critique, Archives and Museum Informatics 11:1 (1997), pp. 18-28.

Hilary Jenk inson, A Manual of archive administration, a reissue of the revised second edition with an introduction and bibliography by Roger H. Ellis (London, 1965), e.g. pp. 11-15. See also Frank Boles and Mark A. Greene, Et Tu Schellenb erg: Tho ughts on the D agger of Am erican Ap praisal Th eory, The Ame rican Archivist 59:3 (Summer 1996), pp. 302-307.

E.g. Philip N. Alexander and Helen W. Samuels, The Roots of 128: A Hypothetical Docum entation Strate gy, The Americ an Arch ivist 50:4 (Fa ll 1987); H elen W . Samuels, Imp roving Ou r Dispositio n: Docum entation Strate gy, Archivaria 33 (Winter 1991-92), pp. 125-140; Richard J. Cox, The Documentation Strategy and Archival Appraisal Principles: A Different Pe rspective, Archivaria 38 (Fall 19 94), pp. 1 1-36.

Terry Co ok, Doc umentation Strategy, Archivaria 34 (Sum mer 199 2), pp. 18 6-189. S ee also the cr itical comme nts in Luciana Durantis article The Concept of Appraisal and Archival Theory, pp.341-342.

Menne-Haritz, Appraisal or Documentation: Can We Appraise Archives by Selecting Content, p. 539. Cook, Documentation Strategy, p. 188.




See e.g. V ictoria Lem ieux, Applyin g Mintzb ergs theories o n organiza tional configur ation to arch ival appraisa l, Archiva ria 46 (Fall 19 98), p. 80 and Cathe rine Bailey, Fro m the top d own: the pra ctice of mac ro-appra isal, Archiva ria 43 (Spring 1997), pp. 94-96.

Bearman, Archival Strategies, p. 399.


Ole Ko lsrud, The Evolution of Basic A ppraisal P rinciples - Som e Comp arative Ob servations, The American Archivist 55:1 (Winter 1992), pp. 31-32.

Menne-Haritz, Appraisal or Documentation: Can We Appraise Archives by Selecting Content, p. 533. Ibid., pp. 534-536. Ibid., pp. 541. Bevarandet av nutiden. Riksarkivets gallrings- & bevarandepolicy (Riksarkivet, 1995). Archives Act 18/1939. Archives Act 184 /1981. Archives Act 831/1994. Seulonta 2 000 - nk kulmia asiakirj allisen tiedon a rvonm ritykseen, Arkistoviesti 1998:1, pp. 21-22.









Eljas Orrman, Princip les used in the Finnish appraisal practise , Baltic-Nordic archival seminar on appraisal and disposal in Prnu October 11-13, 1995 (The National Archives of Finland, 1997), pp. 35-36.

Seulonta 2 000 - nk kulmia asiakirj allisen tiedon a rvonm ritykseen, Arkistoviesti 1998:1, pp. 19, 21. Luciana Duranti, The Concept of Appraisal and Archival theory, pp. 343-344. Valtionhallinnon asiakirjojen seulonta ja hvittminen (Arkistolaitos, 1997). Valtiona rkiston oh je ATK-a ineistojen s ilytysarvon mrittely st (Valtionarkisto, 1992).