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T H E A M E R I C A N A R C H I V I S T PEASE AWARD A Comparison of Jenkinson and Schellenberg on Appraisal Reto Tschan Abstract Sir Hilary Jenkinson and Theodore R. Schellenberg, the two leading archival theorists in the English-speaking world in the twentieth century, held strikingly different opinions on the subject of the appraisal of archival records. This paper examines their views on the nature of archival records, the reasons for their retention, and the role of the archivist in
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  T HE  A  MERICAN  A  RCHIVIST 176 The American Archivist, Vol. 65 (Fall/Winter 2002):176–195 P EASE A  WARD  A Comparison of Jenkinson andSchellenberg on Appraisal Reto Tschan Abstract Sir Hilary Jenkinson and Theodore R. Schellenberg, the two leading archival theorists inthe English-speaking world in the twentieth century, held strikingly different opinions onthe subject of the appraisal of archival records. This paper examines their views on thenature of archival records, the reasons for their retention, and the role of the archivist inthe appraisal process. It then traces the evolution of their ideas through the subsequent archival discourse on appraisal in order to identify their continued relevance and lastingcontributions, particularly in light of the current debates surrounding the management of electronic records. S ir Hilary Jenkinson and Theodore R. Schellenberg stand as the twoforemost twentieth-century thinkers on archival theory and practice.Both responded to the crisis in modern record-keeping practice by writ-ing influential texts on archival theory and principle. They are often placedon opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of their theoretical views, andtheir ideas and personalities did clash: Jenkinson called Schellenberg’s ideason selection “dangerous”; Schellenberg dismissed Jenkinson as “an old Reto Tschan was awarded the 2002 Theodore Calvin Pease Award for this paper, written for a courseon “Selection and Acquisition of Archival Documents” taught by Professor Terry Eastwood in theMaster of Archival Studies Program at the School of Library, Archival and Information Studies,University of British Columbia. The Pease Award is named for the first editor of the American Archivist  and is given to the best student paper as judged by the Pease Award Committee chaired by the current editor of the American Archivist. The 2002 selection committee consisted of Philip Eppard, JohannePelletier, and Barbara Cain. The award was presented in Birmingham, Alabama on August 22, 2002 at the sixty-sixth annual meeting of the Society of American Archivists.   A C OMPARISONOF  J ENKINSONAND S CHELLENBERGON  A  PPRAISAL 177 fossil.” 1 Nowhere do Jenkinson and Schellenberg seem more divided thanover the nature and purpose of archival appraisal. Jenkinson is typically cast as the passive custodian, desirous of keeping everything, while Schellenbergis seen as the less idealistic, more pragmatic interventionist, father of the dis-posal schedule. 2 The aim of this paper is to compare the ideas of Jenkinsonand Schellenberg on appraisal, with specific focus on their views of thenature of archival records, the reasons for their retention, and the role of thearchivist in the appraisal process. Beyond a comparison of their ideas onappraisal, this paper will also seek to trace the evolution of their ideas inthesubsequent archival discourse in an attempt to identify their lasting con-tributions and continued relevance to the debate on appraisal in archivaltheory.  Jenkinson on Archives  Jenkinson’s most famous work on archival theory and practice, the Manual of Archive Administration, arose largely out of the numerous challenges posed by the masses of records that had been produced during the course of the First  World War. 3 The task that Jenkinson set for himself, was to study the nature andcharacteristics of archival documents in order to come to some fundamentalunderstanding of archival principles that could, in turn, guide the creation of  1 Sir Hilary Jenkinson, “Modern Archives: Some Reflections on T. R. Schellenberg: Modern Archives: Principles and Techniques, ”  Journal of the Society of Archivists  1 (April 1957): 342; Theodore R.Schellenberg to Albert C. Schwarting, 7 July 1954, Personal Letters file, Schellenberg Papers, citedin Jane F. Smith, “Theodore R. Schellenberg: Americanizer and Popularizer,” American Archivist  44(Fall 1981): 319. 2 It was Schellenberg who “spearheaded the process that eventually destroyed millions of metres of records.” Terry Cook, “What Is Past Is Prologue: A History of Archival Ideas since 1898 and the FutureParadigm Shift,” Archivaria  43 (Spring 1997): 28. 3 Sir Hilary Jenkinson, A Manual of Archive Administration  (London: Percy Lund, Humphries & Co.,1937), 20. Jenkinson writes, “The fact is that the enormous stock of fresh experience which has beenaccumulated during the War and which will be material for the work of the future historian, not tomention students in other branches of learning, is hidden in a mass of documents so colossal that the question of their housing alone (apart from those of their handling, sifting and use) presentsquite novel features.... it is largely the addition of this abnormal mass of new Archive matter toour existing collections which compels us to face the fact that we must make at any rate a beginningof settling our Archive problems.” The notion, sometimes advanced, that unlike Schellenberg, Jenkinson was relatively insensible to the masses of modern documentation (see, for example,Richard Stapleton, “Jenkinson and Schellenberg: A Comparison,” Archivaria  17 [Winter 1983–84]:76; Felix Hull, “Appraisal: Problems and Pitfalls,”  Journal of the Society of Archivists  6 [April 1980]: 288;and Terry Cook, “What Is Past Is Prologue,” 26, wherein Jenkinson is presented as happily potteringabout with old records, insensible to the crush of modern records which was only realized by Schellenberg and his generation) is belied by the above passage and the fact that Jenkinson notesthat the records produced during the war were estimated to be of equal bulk to all the records thencurrently housed at the Public Record Office (Jenkinson, AManual of Archive Administration, 20, n.1).The great irony is that the very records which prompted Jenkinson to examine the problems of bulkand archival appraisal had their ultimate disposition settled by German bombs: 60% of the recordsof the First World Warwere destroyed in the Blitz. <> (December 4, 2002).  T HE  A  MERICAN  A  RCHIVIST 178 the archives of the present and the future. 4 In his definition of archives, Jenkinson stressed their custodial history, their organic structure, and theiraccumulation through natural processes:  A document which may be said to belong to the class of Archives is one which was drawn up or used in the course of an administrative or executive transaction (whether public or private) of which itself formed a part; and subsequently preserved in their own custody for their own information by the person or persons responsible for that transaction and their legitimate successors. 5  Jenkinson argued that the manner in which archives were created, that is,their natural accumulation during the course of regular activities, as opposedto their having been “singled out for preservation,” and their creation andpreservation by their creators for their own particular use without considera-tion as to their future use, endowed archives with the qualities of impartiality and authenticity. These qualities, in turn, gave to archives their particular valueas evidence of the past. Jenkinson also realized that archives were composed of interrelated records, and that it was this contextual whole which impartedmeaning and which required preservation. 6 The archivist’s chief duty, there-fore, was the physical and moral defence of the records’ integrity, impartiality,authenticity and their resultant “archive value.” 7 The necessary corollary was that any alteration or destruction of recordsresulted in both a diminution of their integrity and of their value as impartialevidence of the past. The seemingly irreconcilable dilemma posed by the neces-sity of having to select from amongst the “hopeless unwieldiness” 8 of modernrecords those worthy of preservation without lessening the “archive value” of the whole was characterized by Jenkinson as follows: Can we, faced with these modern accumulations, leave any longer to chancethe question what Archives are to be preserved? Can we on the other handattempt to regulate them without destroying that precious characteristic of impartiality which results ... from the very fact that their preservation wassettled either by pure chance or at least by considerations which did not include the possible requirements of future Historians? 9 4 “The first aim of this book must, it seems, be twofold. It is required to lay down in outline a plan of ourduties to the Archives which have been left us by the past; a plan that shall be conditioned entirely by their own fundamental characteristics. From this first process we are to draw certain general principlesof Archive values which we may attempt to apply to a new problem, the direction, without altering their Archive character, of the formation of the Archives of the future.” (Jenkinson, A Manual of Archive Administration, 22). 5  Jenkinson, A Manual of Archive Administration, 11. 6  Jenkinson, “The Classification and Survey of English Archives,” in Selected Writings of Sir Hilary Jenkinson, ed. Roger Ellis and Peter Walne (Gloucester: Alan Sutton, 1980), 197–99. 7  Jenkinson, A Manual of Archive Administration, 146. 8  Jenkinson, A Manual of Archive Administration, 22. 9  Jenkinson, A Manual of Archive Administration, 21.   A C OMPARISONOF  J ENKINSONAND S CHELLENBERGON  A  PPRAISAL 179  Jenkinson’s response was ultimately determined by his views as to the natureand purpose of archives, views that consistently led him to deny the archivist anactive role in the selection of archives or to sanction the destruction of archivesafter their receipt into archival custody. Schellenberg on Archives Much like Jenkinson, Theodore Schellenberg was compelled to write hismanual on archival theory and practice, Modern Archives: Principles and Techniques, by concerns surrounding the volume of modern records produc-tion. 10 In certain respects, it was also written as a rebuttal to Jenkinson’s Manual,  which Schellenberg considered both “unreadable” and responsible for givingmany, particularly the Australians, “a wrong start in their archival work.” 11 Schellenberg had long believed in the limited applicability of Europeanarchival practice to the realities of modern records production in the UnitedStates, 12 and his text was generally accepted as an exposition of the new man-ner in which archives should be administered. 13 However, Schellenberg’s conception of archives was, in many respects, not a complete departure from traditional theory: he argued for the organic natureof archives being responsible for much of their significance, and he upheld thecentrality of the principle of respect des fonds. Schellenberg also agreed that archives were created in the course of activities to accomplish specific purposes,and that “such records should be kept in their entirety without mutilation, alter- 10 Schellenberg writes that the book was an outgrowth of his time spent in Australia on a Fulbright schol-arship where he was asked to lecture on the “various aspects of the problem of managing publicrecords” (Theodore R. Schellenberg, Modern Archives: Principles and Techniques  [Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1956], ix). The scale of records production in the United States was so great that,according to Wayne C. Grover, archivists “began to go berserk—frightened at birth ... by a very realmonster.” In the period between 1930 and 1952, the federal government of the United States createdseven times as many records as it had since its inception in 1776 (Wayne C. Grover is quoted in DonaldR. McCoy, The National Archives: America’s Ministry of Documents 1934–1968  [Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1978], 146). 11 Schellenberg to Schwarting, 7 July 1954, in Smith, “Americanizer and Popularizer,” 319. 12 Schellenberg’s first paper, entitled “European Archival Practices in Arranging Records,” argued forthe need for American archivists to develop principles and techniques that were applicable to therealities of mass documentation, pointing out that European practices had only a limited applica-bility to this new environment (Smith, “Americanizer and Popularizer,” 316). “European ArchivalPractices in Arranging Records” was published as National Archives Staff Information Circular no. 5in July 1939. 13 In the foreword to Modern Archives, H.L. White of the Canberra National Library and Archival Authority writes, “Those responsible for the development of new archival programmes in youngcountries like Australia have been hampered by the lack of authoritative works devoted to the prob-lems peculiar to, or magnified by, modern records. The very excellence and authority of theEnglish and Continental writings, concerned primarily with earlier records, has tended to inhibit the necessary thinking and experiment which the control of modern records in young countriesrequires ... Dr. Schellenberg’s book is therefore most welcome and timely.”(Schellenberg, Modern Archives,  vii).
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