Department of ALM

What is kept in the archives? Appraisal Practices in Swedish Archives 1980-2010

This investigation on appraisal practises in Swedish archives 1980-2010 stands in the conjunction between archival science and the research on heritage and memory processes. While there are innumerable studies on e.g. the role of museums in the latter, we know remarkably little about the archives, even though the archival system has a tremendous role in shaping the source material for the future.

There it is ultimately determined what records that are to be left for future generations, thanks to its everyday appraisal activities. Therefore, a concrete analysis on what has been kept, why, and for whom, will highlight in what ways actual appraisal practises are influenced by overall societal ideas on heritage and memory. The relative importance of legal and institutional frameworks is also analysed, thanks to a comparative approach where appraisal in the state, the municipal and the non-public sector are all examined. Laws heavily regulate the public sector - in general terms every deletion of public records must be sanctioned by authorities. The Swedish Archives Act emphasises that the "research interest" has to be accounted for when deciding what to preserve, and it adds that the official archives are part of the "national heritage". How is this implemented in actual appraisal practises? In what ways differ archives in the non-public sector, where the freedom is wider both to destroy records and to pursue documentary activities that border on the role of museums?

This research project is funded by Riksbankens jubileumsfond (RJ), 2012–2015.

Responsible for the project is Samuel Edquist, associate professor in History and a researcher at the Dept of ALM.

Project description in fulltext.