Hampshire Archives and Local Studies

Appraisal Policy

It is neither practical nor desirable to preserve all records offered to Hampshire Archives and Local Studies (HALS). During their training, archivists are taught the professional skills of appraisal and archivists at Hampshire Record Office are responsible for appraisal on receipt of new accessions and during the cataloguing process. This appraisal policy has been put in place to explain how we ensure that only records of historical importance to the county of Hampshire are preserved permanently as archives. It should be read alongside our Collecting Policy.

We appraise records when we receive new accessions, to ensure these fall within our collecting remit, as described in our Collecting Policy, which is supported by more detailed in-house guidelines. On receipt of records, we also establish with the depositor or person giving the records, whether we have permission to destroy, transfer or return them. Final decisions about retention will be taken during the more detailed cataloguing process.

Our Records Management service, which we provide for Hampshire County Council records, identifies County Council records likely to be of long-term historical interest, and ensures their preservation for future generations as part of Hampshire's archival heritage. Records should be kept for the periods laid down in retention schedules drawn up by the Service and agreed with departments. There is provision in the retention schedules for interim and joint reviews and Hampshire Record Office has a retention schedule for its own administrative records as well as for those of other departments. Records should be dealt with in accordance with the schedules. Retention schedules include transfer to Hampshire Record Office of records identified as of long-term historical importance, for permanent preservation, and appraisal of records by HALS archivists is undertaken with a view to establishing their potential long-term historical value. Our Records Management Policy should be consulted for further information.

For public records held locally, we refer to any guidelines issued by The National Archives and Government departments (eg records of: magistrates’ courts, coroners, hospitals, prisons). Similarly, we consult guidelines issued nationally with regard to other collections, such as diocesan archives and we developed guidelines for use by and with district councils.

We have drawn up guidelines for the appraisal and selection of a range of records - those of: district councils (as noted above), parish and town councils, parishes, schools (with regard to 19th century records), solicitors, businesses, and clubs, societies and other organisations. We are able to issue guidelines to these organisations to help them manage their records.

Where we do not have specific guidelines for appraisal and selection of records we recognise that each record or group of records has to be assessed on its own merit. We apply a range of principles:

  • establishing whether a record is an original or unique copy
  • checking whether we already hold the same or similar records
  • checking whether this type of record has been kept historically at HALS
  • judging the historical relevance of an archive and which records are likely to be of interest to current and future generations, eg for their social, political, economic, legal or topographical information
  • considering whether similar records have previously had a major impact on research
  • assessing whether the records reveal a significant change in policy or the structure of a committee or organisation
  • assessing whether records give insights into the handling at a local level of an issue of national importance
  • assessing whether certain records are of an unusual or extraordinary nature.
  • assessing whether records relate to a draft proposal or an actual project and whether the records are working papers or include final reports, for instance
  • disposing of duplicate or blank/unused records and ephemeral material such as routine accounts although exceptions may be made (eg to provide examples of the record-keeping methods of a particular organisation)
  • not allowing personal bias to affect a decision to keep or destroy records.

Any appraisal carried out on an accession will be recorded in the catalogue introduction.

August 2010