| The archival appraisal of records containing personal information: A RAMP study with guidelines |
|4. Appraisal methodologies, criteria, and options|
28. After all the above analytical steps, the archivist is faced with making one of the following decisions:
a. Retain all records permanently. Very few personal information records aside from the "essential" categories defined in Chapter 2 will be kept in their entirety. Perhaps a small series of case files in a programme where cases were appealed to and settled in the minister's office would be an example, or the examples cited before (see Chapter 2.30) of national gallery artist files or senior scientists' research grants. As a working rule in such cases, for interrelated series of records, it is preferable to keep all of a small series rather than samples from a much larger one.
b. Remove and keep key documents only from the files. Immigration landing record forms or medical and employment history charts once removed from the case files render what remains behind unarchival. It is, however, a labour-intensive job to remove such documents for large series if this work is not already performed by the creating department in the course of its normal business. It is good records management practice tin which archivists have an obvious stake) to ensure that key forms can be readily separated from ephemeral material.
c. Sample the records. Sampling permits the retention of the characteristics of the whole, both physically and intellectually, in a small portion of the whole. See the special section on sampling which follows for more information.
d. Take an example of the records. This involves taking a very small specimen (a file or box per year perhaps) solely to show the forms and processes used. As noted, there are better ways to document the evidential value of a programme, and this method for voluminous records containing personal information should be used sparingly.
e. Destroy all the records. This will of course be the decision taken for most series of personal case files created by modern governments.
29. At any stage in this process, archivists can consider converting the records or key information in them to electronic, micrographic, or optical disk formats as an alternative to collecting extensive series of bulky paper records, or consider alienating the records to another repository, but as noted these are preservation options, not appraisal ones. The personal information records in such instances have already been appraised as having permanent value before the practical and preservation concerns of actual transfer and acquisition are considered.