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archival integrity


n. ~ The principle that a body of records resulting from the same activity must be preserved as a group, without division, separation, or addition, to protect the evidential and informational value that can be discerned from its context.


The concept, articulated by Hilary Jenkinson, derives from the principles of provenance, which prevents records from different sources from being intermingled, and of original order, which ensures that the records reflect the manner in which they were used by their creator. The disposal of duplicate records within a collection is generally not considered a violation of archival integrity. If materials are relocated for preservation, restricted access, or security, archival integrity can be preserved by placing a separation sheet in the materials' original location.

(Boles and Greene 1996) Faced with documents in quantities never before encountered in human history, many American archivists have a great deal of trouble believing that losing a few stray pieces of paper would truly matter. Indeed many American archivists might be willing to stand Jenkinson's dictum on its head, arguing that in nine cases out of ten weeding excess documents from a file may well make the inter-relationships clearer.
(ICA Dictionary 1988) [archival integrity] A basic standard derived from the principle of provenance and the registry principle which requires that an archive/record group shall be preserved in its entirety without division, mutilation, alienation, unauthorized destruction or addition, except by accrual or replevin, in order to ensure its full evidential and informational value.

A Glossary of Archival and Records Terminology