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n. ~ 1. The quality of being genuine, not a counterfeit, and free from tampering, and is typically inferred from internal and external evidence, including its physical characteristics, structure, content, and context.

- authentic, adj. ~ 2. Perceived of as genuine, rather than as counterfeit or specious; bona fide.


Authenticity is closely associated with the creator (or creators) of a record. First and foremost, an authentic record must have been created by the individual represented as the creator. The presence of a signature serves as a fundamental test for authenticity; the signature identifies the creator and establishes the relationship between the creator and the record.

Authenticity can be verified by testing physical and formal characteristics of a record. The ink used to write a document must be contemporaneous with the document's purported date. The style and language of the document must be consistent with other, related documents that are accepted as authentic.

Authenticity alone does not automatically imply that the content of a record is reliable.

The authenticity of records and documents is usually presumed, rather than requiring affirmation. Federal rules of evidence stipulate that to be presumed authentic, records and documents must be created in the 'regular practice' of business and that there be no overt reason to suspect the trustworthiness of the record (Uniform Rules of Evidence, as approved July 1999).

(Bearman and Trant 1998) Judgments about authenticity are based on assessments of the origins, completeness and internal integrity of a document. They may also draw from the consistency and coherence that exists between a particular source and others in the same context or of the same type.
(C Lynch 2000, p. 5, 6) Validating authenticity entails verifying claims that are associated with an object – in effect, verifying that an object is indeed what it claims to be, or what it is claimed to be (by external metadata). ¶ It is important to note that tests of authenticity deal only with specific claims (for example, 'did X author this document?') and not with open-ended inquiry ('Who wrote it?'). Validating the authenticity of an object is more limited than is an open-ended inquiry into its nature and provenance.
(Duranti 1998, p. 45–46) Diplomatic authenticity does not coincide with legal authenticity, even if they both can lead to an attribution of historical authenticity in a judicial dispute. ¶ Legally authentic documents are those which bear witness on their own because of the intervention, during or after their creation, of a representative of a public authority guaranteeing their genuineness. Diplomatically authentic documents are those which were written according to the practice of the time and place indicated in the text, and signed with the name(s) of the person(s) competent to create them. Historically authentic documents are those which attest to events that actually took place or to information that is true.
(Duranti 1998, p. 45, n. 29) In law, 'authentic' is defined as 'duly vested with all necessary formalities and legally attested.' An authentic document is called by the law 'authentic act' and is defined as 'an act which has been executed before a notary or public officer authorized to execute such functions, or which is testified by a public seal, or has been rendered public by the authority of a competent magistrate, or which is certified as being a copy of a public register.' [Citing Black's Law Dictionary, rev. IVth ed.]
(Eastwood 1993, p. 243) In archival science, authenticity is the quality of archival documents to bear reliable testimony to the actions, procedures and processes which brought them into being.
(Eastwood 2004, p. 43) [Jenkinson] connected authenticity with continuous custody of archives by their creator and its legitimate successors. The argument is that the creating body has an interest in preserving its records free from any tampering that would affect their authenticity, of being what they seem to be.
(Garner 2003, p. 75) Today the words [authentic and genuine] are interchangeable in most sentences, but a couple of distinctions do exist. First, 'authentic' is off-target when the sense is 'substantial'. . . . Second, 'authentic' is an awkward choice when the sense is 'sincere'. . . . The OED notes that late-18th-century theologians tried to differentiate the words, arguing that a book is 'authentic' if its content is accurate, and 'genuine' if it is correctly attributed to the writer. The point, weak as it was to begin with, has been preserved in some later usage guides.
(Guercio 2001, p. 251) The authenticity of a record, or rather the recognition that it has not been subject to manipulation, forgery, or substitution, entails guarantees of the maintenance of records across time and space (that is, their preservation and transmission) in terms of the provenance and integrity of records previously created.
(Smith 2000, p. vi) 'Authenticity' in recorded information connotes precise, yet disparate, things in different contexts and communities. . . . Beyond any definition of authenticity lie assumptions about the meaning and significance of content, fixity, consistency of reference, provenance, and context.

A Glossary of Archival and Records Terminology