What’s in a date? Is a different date just as special?

You used to have to tell us about all your pre-1950s records. Well, not anymore. Recently we made a policy change about how these records are managed.

It used to be that any agency with (temporary) records from before 1950 had to refer said records to QSA before they could be destroyed. This used to be because records from before 1950 can be pretty rare and might be of permanent value even though a schedule says they’re temporary.

Sometimes they:

  • are the only public records that exist for a particular geographic area or activity
  • document functions and activities that are different from what the agency is currently responsible for
  • provide a unique record of a different time and place which are valuable to researchers
  • have been created by an agency that no longer exists and provide the only evidence of their existence.

Now herein lies the rub. What about records from 1951 that are the only records of that area? Or 1955 that are from an agency that no longer exists? Or from 1967 that document a function your agency no longer does? What makes 1950 so special? Why have a cut-off date at all?

We had a think about that and decided that it wasn’t the date that mattered but the records.

So, instead of telling us about all records from pre-1950, we want you to tell us about any special records that you think should be permanent. This applies to any temporary value records from any date.

Here’s what you should do if you have any temporary value records that you think should be permanent:

You can find out how to identify records with permanent archival, enduring or intrinsic value on the website. This outlines the special characteristics and things to look for to determine if a record should be permanent value.

If after you’ve done that and think ‘yes, these records look like they might be permanent value’, you can submit a special circumstances appraisal form. We can then assess the records and determine if they are of permanent archival value and should be transferred to QSA.

Featured image: Date Palms, Barcaldine, c.1930, Digital image ID 27193

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