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Appraisal is the process of evaluating records based on their value to an organization, particularly when used to determine if the records have permanent historical value. The goal of appraisal is to preserve records that document the major activities and functions of an organization and, particularly with government, its impact on communities across New York State.  

Appraisal Process at the State Archives 

Image.  Archivist browsing records in stacks

The State Archives has statutory authority to appraise state agency and local government records. The appraisal process normally starts with retention scheduling, when State Archives staff determine whether the records in question require an archival appraisal. If an appraisal is warranted, Archives staff consult with the records owner and apply a defined set of criteria to ensure that appraisal decisions are appropriate and consistent. These criteria include record documenting  

  • enduring legal rights and interests, powers, duties, precedents, or compliance with laws and regulations;organization, functions, policies, procedures, activities, resources, and accountability of government;
  • ​contributing significantly to documenting the people, organizations, and communities of New York State; and
  • ​are significant because of their physical qualities and are retained in their original form, whether the information they contain is preserved in other formats. 

We document our research and recommendations in a report, have an internal team review the report, and indicate our appraisal decision on the retention schedules with a “permanent” (local governments) or “transfer to State Archives” (state agencies) designation. For complex electronic records systems, we may also subject records to a technical appraisal to identify the technical characteristics of the records and determine how to preserve the records and make them available for use. 

Sources of Archival Records  

These entities tend to create or maintain archival records:  

  • executive and policy-making offices
  • ​legal departments
  • advisory and specially appointed bodies
  • rule-making entities
  • inter- or intra-agency units and those involved in research or planning activities
  • public relations offices
  • adjudicative bodies 

Categories of Archival Records 

Certain categories of records have generally been appraised as archival for state agency records. Some may be applicable to local governments and other entities: 

  • records that document the essential missions and significant activities and accomplishments of state agencies
  • ​summary records of the development of the state budget and expenditures, service of state officials and employees
  • ​the state’s acquisition and disposition of real property, including grants of unappropriated land
  • ​major public works projects, such as the Thruway system and the Erie and Barge Canals
  • ​records documenting the formation and dissolution of corporations both public and private such as school districts or banks and insurance companies
  • individuals involved with state functions, services or institutions, such as military service, incarceration, mental health treatment, or human rights issues
  • major disasters in New York’s history, such as Tropical Storm Agnes in June 1972, and the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center 
  • ​under-documented aspects of New York’s history such as racial/ethnic population groups, science and technology, or higher education. 



You can find more information about Appraisal in the following publications:


You can find more information about Appraisal in the following workshops: