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Macroappraisal in Theory and Practice: Origins, Characteristics, and Implementation in Canada, 1950–2000


Macroappraisal as developed in Canada has had significant currency in archival literature over the past decade, and aspects of its program and ideas have been implemented in other jurisdictions. For the first time, this essay probes the theoretical and practical origins of macroappraisal in Canada since 1950 and why its originators no longer found convincing the predominant status quo on appraisal as articulated by T.R. Schellenberg. The essay then summarizes the theory of macroappraisal as articulated at the National Archives of Canada, and the strategic and program infrastructure developed in the 1990s to turn the new theory into operational reality. As no archival concept is universally locked in time, the evolution and changes in the macroappraisal program, both in theory and strategy, are also analysed in its Canadian home base over its first decade, as well as some internal and external criticisms of it.

The essay intends to illuminate the deeper context of macroappraisal, so that an international audience may better understand its strengths and weaknesses. As the author is the principal architect of macroappraisal, the essay consists of equal parts of archival history, theoretical analysis, and personal reflection.

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Correspondence to Terry Cook.

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Cook, T. Macroappraisal in Theory and Practice: Origins, Characteristics, and Implementation in Canada, 1950–2000. Arch Sci 5, 101–161 (2005).

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  • archival appraisal
  • archival history
  • archival theory
  • functional analysis
  • macroappraisal
  • National Archives of Canada
  • records disposition