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Date Permissions Signed


Date of Award


Document Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Jimerson, Randall C.

Second Advisor

Neem, Johann N.

Third Advisor

Steele, Ruth Catherine


Appraisal is one of the first steps in archival processing and arguably the most crucial. Embedded in this process are two concepts fundamental to archives: power of the archivist over the collection and trust, by the public, in the archivist to make decisions regarding the historical record. Justification for decisions regarding appraisal, however, are lacking and archivists have yet to make any headway in establishing a means of accountability. Through the implementation of a formalized appraisal report, archivists can thoroughly document the appraisal process while simultaneously justifying their decisions to the greater archival communities and the public at large. This study focuses on the state of archival appraisal, chronicling the works of Sir Hilary Jenkinson and T.R Schellenberg and their impact on appraisal theory, as well as current and past appraisal methods. With such variety and the impossibility of a universal approach to appraisal, archivists must earn the public's trust by accepting and acknowledging their own biases in the course of appraising collections. Documentation encourages archivists to consider the weight of their work in appraisal and their impact on future users in shaping the memories of society.




Western Washington University

OCLC Number


Subject – LCSH

Appraisal of archival materials; Archivists--Professional ethics; Archivists--Documentation; Archives--Access control




masters theses




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