| The archival appraisal of records containing personal information: A RAMP study with guidelines |
In the celebrated Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) records case, archival appraisal criteria were formally tabled by the National Archives and Records Administration in the final report. Although they do not cover all the factors in this present study, these criteria are reproduced here as an additional guideline or checklist for archivists appraising records containing personal informal. (See National Archives and Records Service, Appraisal of the Records of the Federal Bureau of Investigation: A Report to Hon. Harold T. Greene. U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia (Washington, 1981), volume 2, appendix D, unpaginated.)
Physical and intellectual characteristics of the classification
- Does the classification contain investigations of a single type or multiple types of violations?
- What changes occurred in the classification over time?
- What is the current volume of records? What is the rate of accumulation?
- How extensive is the destruction?
- What level of research value is found in Headquarters? In Field and Legats?
- Is there a correlation between size of the file and research value?
- Is there a correlation between any other identifiable characteristic of the file and research value?
- Is the Office of Origin in Headquarters or in the Field?
- Is there a difference in research value between Office of Origin and Auxiliary Office files?
- Are certain Field Offices exceptionally important for this type of investigation?
- Is it feasible to develop a sample from all Field Offices? From one? From several?
Duplication and linkage of the classification
- Does the National Archives hold other records documenting the same activity?
- What is the disposition, by schedule, of records of another agency documenting the same activity?
- Can the FBI records be linked to the records of another agency? How easily?
- Does the FBI have primary, shared or a secondary jurisdiction for this violation?
- Are these records a primary source or a secondary source of information on the violation? If a secondary, are they necessary to document the violation?
- Are there other sources in Bureau records for information on the Bureau's activity in this investigative area? What is the disposition of these records? Are they sufficient documentation by the Bureau closely linked to the violation in the classification under consideration?
Information in the case file
- How significant is the violation that is the subject of these files?
- How significant is the information contained in these files about the violation?
- How significant did the Bureau consider the violation?
- What types of information are found in these files?
- How did the case files, reflecting how investigations were actually conducted, compare to stated policies on how they were supposed to be conducted?
- Do the files document the Bureau's use of extraordinary or controversial techniques and/or violations of constitutional rights?
- What types of research can be done from these files How likely it is that it will be done?
- Is the information amenable to statistical analysis?
- In the absence of such information, would studies in a particular field be impaired?