Appraisal has been called the most difficult intellectual challenge of an archivist's work. However, appraisal suffers from the perception that it is also the most talked about but least understood aspect of archives administration. Often when "appraisal" is discussed in the context of arrangement and description, what is meant instead is "weeding." Weeding is for gardeners, not for archivists. Attending this webinar, you'll discover, in broad strokes, the history of appraisal theory and practice from an instructor broadly respected for his writing on both the abstract concepts and their daily implications for appraisal.


While not omitting appraisal theory, the webinar emphasizes practical issues, problems, and solutions.


Upon completion of this course, you should be able to:


  • Understand the who, what, where, when, why, and how of appraisal
  • Describe the most important underlying concepts of archival appraisal theory and how best to relate theory to appraisal practice
  • Recognize the difference between weeding and appraisal and why the former must always give way to the latter
  • Comprehend important concepts, both theoretical and practical, to consider when approaching an appraisal decision or defining a collecting policy
  • Understand and identify significant pitfalls to be avoided in thinking about and in applying appraisal concepts
  • Distinguish the extent to which appraisal of analog materials is or is not mirrored in the appraisal of electronic records



Who Should Attend?
Anyone tasked with arrangement and description who either needs a refresher or didn’t hear much about appraisal when it was touched on briefly in graduate school, as well as archival professionals who are responsible for appraisal of archives and manuscripts, whether analog or electronic, at any level of aggregation



What You Should Already Know:

There are no prerequisite readings or knowledge for this webinar.




A&D Core Competency:


  • #2. Analyze and describe details about the attributes of a record or collection of records to facilitate identification, management, and understanding of the work
  • #4. Demonstrate an ability to manage physical and intellectual control over archival materials
  • #7. Analyze threats and implement measures to minimize ethical and institutional risks


If you intend to pursue the A&D Certificate, you will need to pass the examination for this course.



Webinar Information
Date Presented:
June 23, 2016 2:00 PM Eastern
1 hour, 30 minutes
Appraisal for Arrangement and Description: Part 1 [A&D]
Mark A. Greene

Mark Greene retired from a 30-year archival career in 2015, due to increasingly poor health.  Prior to that year he had been the director of the American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming, since 2002. Under his direction, the AHC conducted a six-year comprehensive collection analysis, developed its first formal collecting policy, cataloged the entirety of its 3,000 collections, and implemented one of the nation’s largest reappraisal and deaccessioning programs. In the absence of a dedicated acquisition archivist, Mark has trained all the archivists at the AHC to perform donor relations, appraisal, and acquisition in specified collecting areas. He was also responsible for fundraising and grantwriting, raising  several hundreds of thousands of dollars to support AHC programs and infrastructure. In 2010 the AHC received SAA’s Distinguished Service Award, the highest honor possible for an archival institution in the United States.


Prior to the AHC, Mark was Head of Research Center Programs at The Henry Ford (formerly Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village) in Dearborn, Michigan, including supervision of the library, archives, museum cataloging, and digitization. For 11 years, Mark was the curator of manuscripts acquisition at the Minnesota Historical Society (MHS), where he was responsible for donor relations, collection development, and appraisal. There he appraised collections up to 2,000 feet and worked with donors ranging from retired milkmen to former US Vice Presidents. At MHS he acquired one of the nation’s first collections of websites, documenting the 1997 Red River Valley floods. Mark also worked closely with MHS museum acquisition personnel, and served on the appraisal/accessioning committee for the state archives. Mark’s first full-time professional position (1985-89) was as the lone arranger archivist for Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota. He received his education as an archivist from the University of Michigan’s Bentley Historical Library as part of his master's degree in U.S. History.


Mark has published more than two dozen peer-reviewed articles and chapters in U.S., Canadian, British, Swiss, Spanish, and Brazilian archival publications on the topics of appraisal and collection development, reappraisal and deaccessioning, business records, congressional collections, privacy in personal papers, the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act, using university archives as instructional material, working with under-represented communities, the tension between context and content in archival theory, the relevance of postmodernism to practicing archivists, collecting and preserving web sites, and archival values. With Dennis Meissner he researched and published the article now known as MPLP. He developed the Midwest Archives Conference’s one-day workshop on the Fundamentals of Archival Appraisal and taught the workshop at regional meetings across the country. Later he created and taught SAA’s fundamental and advanced appraisal workshops.


Mark has chaired the SAA Manuscripts Repository Section, Congressional Papers Roundtable, a Program Committee, and the (now defunct) Committee on Education and Professional Development. He has served on SAA Council and as SAA President and was elected an SAA Fellow. At the SAA conference in 2015 in Cleveland, Mark was honored with the Council’s Exemplary Service Award.  

Speaker Information
Mark A. Greene
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