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mation is essential in the evaluation of records, their appraisal by the National Archives, and their subsequent identification at the time of actual disposal. Include form numbers and titles, decimal file headings, and similiar data when applicable. For forms and memoranda indicate whether the copies in the series are ribbons or carbons and whether signed or unsigned. Note the following examples of identifications: Signed ribbon copies of Form 32, Service Order, for all services per

formed in photographic laboratory. Requests for copies of publications and copies of replies thereto. Unsigned carbon copies of Form 1012e, travel vouchers, with accompany

ing travel authorizations, subvouchers, and memoranda of excep

tions. Project files for all construction projects, including, for each proj

ect, signed ribbon copy of project application (Form 817), unsigned carbon copy of review memorandum, unsigned carbon of notice of approval (Form 11), signed carbon of advice of allocation (Form 319), signed ribbon copy of quarterly report of expenditures (Form 82), signed ribbon copy of notice of abandonment or completion (Form 38), signed carbon copy of advice of rescission (Form 17), and memoranda, reports, and correspondence relating to the project.

Dates should be shown as exactly as possible, for example:
April 6, 1941, to date.
June 1919 to May 1942.

5. A brief statement should be given of the filing scheme or arrangement within the series, for differences between arrangement of two series may determine which is to be kept and which disposed of. Note that what is wanted is the internal arrangement of each records series itself, not the way it is kept in the files. Arrangement should be noted as follows:

Arranged alphabetically by subject.
Arranged chronologically by date of report.

Arranged numerically by map number.
If the arrangement is broken down within this basic pattern, note as fol-
Arranged chronologically by date of report and alphabetically there-

under by subject.
Arranged alphabetically by name of registrant and chronologically

thereunder by date of supporting papers.

6. Indicate the exstence, if known, of copies of the papers in other files in the agency, thus:

Carbon copies also in Division of Finance and Accounts.

Originals of Form 57 retained by Division of Personnel Management. If there is any substantial difference between the copies of the documents, it is important to note that fact because it often determines which copy should be retained and which destroyed, for example: Signed ribbon copies of these forms with notation of action by Direc

tor are in General Files. Carbon copies without final computation of cost are retained by issu

ing division.

7. Describe_briefly any other records of the agency containing substantially similar information. Statistical results of an analysis, for example, are usually found on questionnaire forms, on tabulation sheets, and in compiled reports. Essential data in requisitions are often carried over into purchase orders and vouchers. Detailed reports of subordinate or field offices are often summarized in reports of offices at higher levels. The duplication is generally only partial in each case. The records officer must know how a given series is related to another and the extent to which they duplicate each other in respect to content.

8. The size and kind of containers of the records should be shown. Information such as this is valuable in planning transfers and removals to

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Card trays, 12" x 6" x 4".
Bound volumes, averaging 14" x 8" x 3".

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9. The quantity of records and the annual rate of accumulation should be shown. This is easiest given in numbers of volumes or containers, for example:

49 file drawers; annual increase, il file drawers.
114 volumes; annual increase, 7 volumes.

13. The nature and frequency of use is perhaps the most important criterion in determining whether records can be di sposed of. This should be shown as precisely as possible, for example: Used approximately 15 times a week in preparing answers to exceptions

taken by General Accounting Office. Never used. Used approximately 15 times per month by review division in connec

tion with review of current projects. Used once or twice a year by Legal Division in search for precedent


ll. The recommendation of the officer in charge of the records as to their disposition should be given. Employees who handle records currently can give the records officer valuable advice as to how long they should be kept. In giving the records officer their opinions, these persons should keep in mind the fact that once records become noncurrent for administrative purposes they can be kept more economically outside the active files. Temporary storage should not be in working offices. Permanent retention should be in the National Archives. Records of no value should be disposed of promptly. Internal regulations, those of other agencies, or laws that require retention for certain periods should be cited, wherever possible, in support of the recommendation. If it is thought that records should be kept at hand temporarily, the time for such retention should be stated explicitly in terms of months or years after current action is completed.

Surveyzing Classified General Files

It is not generally worthwhile to fill out a separate survey sheet for each heading of a general file set up on a subject, subject-numeric, decimal, or other classified system if there exists an official classification manual for the file, as the manual itself defines the individual headings and shows their content. It will usually suffice for the records officer to note by each file heading in a copy of the file manual the quantity and rate of accumulation and the nature and frequency of use of that section of the file and attach the copy of the manual to a basic survey sheet covering the entire file.

Surveying "Housekeeping" Records

The practice of surveying all the records of a division or bureau and completing lists and schedules for them before passing on to another bureau or division sometimes does not work very well for accounting, personnel, procurement, and similar "housekeeping" records because the personnel records in a given division usually cannot be considered apart from those of the agency's central personnel office, or accounting records in a bureau apart from those of the central finance office. It is generally advisable, therefore, to take each class of housekeeping records as a whole and cover them for the entire agency.

It is often possible to do this without making an actual physical survey throughout the agency, as "housekeeping" records consist largely of forms whose routing and distribution are known. Let us suppose, for example, that the records officer wishes to begin by scheduling all property and procurement records in the agency. He can easily obtain or compile a list of standard and agency forms used in the requisitioning, purchase, distribution, and inventorying of and accounting for property and note for each the office that prepares it, the number of copies made, and the office in which each copy is filed. With this information before him, he can usually decide, in cooperation with the procurement officer for the agency, which copies of which forms need to be retained beyond their immediate use and can then prepare lists or schedules covering the remainder without having surveyed all copies of each form throughout the agency.

This same device can often be applied to other types of records kept on forms.

Surveying Field Records

The records of large field offices that have substantial autonomy and considerable freedom in the organization of their files should be surveyed just as are those of bureaus or divisions at the headquarters of the agency. Smaller field offices, however, that keep their records in substantial confornity with instructions from headquarters seldom need to be covered by individual surveys. One schedule covering hundreds or even thousands of similar district or local offices of an agency can usually be prepared on the basis of careful study of instructions governing the keeping of records in the given class of field offices and surveys of the records of two or three sample offices of that class.

Surveying Motion Pictures, Sound Recordings, and Still Photographs

Motion pictures, sound recordings, and photographs can be surveyed by the same general methods used in surveying written records, but since many technical problems are involved, agencies should consult with the National Archives before initiating a survey of such records with a view to preparing disposal lists or schedules. Assistance in planning such surveys may be obtained by calling the Photographic Records Office, the National Archives, extension 316.


The most critical point in records disposal is reached when the records officer has completed the accumulation, by survey or otherwise, of detailed information about the records of the agency or bureau or other unit and faces the necessity of deciding which of them may be disposed of and after what periods of time. He must, in other words, evaluate the records. Evaluation of records is one of the most difficult parts of the whole disposal process, but there is about it nothing mysterious or abstruse.

The best way to approach the problem is to recognize that for every agency there is a nucleus of records of enduring value that the Government should undertake to preserve indefinitely. The first step is to identify these records. It may then be assumed that the value of the remainder of the records, though some of thein may need to be kept for a number of years, is temporary only. The question then remaining is to determine after what period of time the value of this latter class of ntemporary" records will disappear or so dwindle that its further preservation is not worthwhile. In other words, the records officer decides in effect: "These records the Government should keep indefinitely, presumably in the National Archives after they have become noncurrent. All the rest should be thrown away, now or later--some now, some when they are 5 years old, some when the accounts to which they relate are settled, and others at other times." There are, then, just two questions the records officer has to ask himself at this stage: 1. What are the records of this agency that the Government should

preserve indefinitely?
2. When may each class of the remainder be thrown away?

Identifying Records of Enduring Value

To the first of these questions there is, of course, a different answer for every agency, but in broad terms it may be said that the Government should preserve as a part of the permanent archives of the Nation records of each agency that show:

1. The organization and administrative history of the agency.
2. The policies it followed and the reasons for their adoption.

Its working methods. 4. Its specific individual transactions insofar as they established

a legal status of any kind or as they may be presumed to have a

general and continuing interest. 5. The general social, economic, or other conditions with which the

agency dealt. In the following sections an effort is made to apply these criteria of continuing value to certain specific classes of records.

Policy_records.-of fundamental importance are the records of the principal headquarters offices of an agency or bureau in which are made the policy and procedural decisions by which the agency is governed. Though they may need first to be weeded of ephemeral material, the basic general files of such headquarters offices and the files of policydetermining officials are of special significance and should always be preserved. A special effort should be made to preserve complete files of directives, official circulars, and similar issuances, of annual budget documents, of organization charts and manuals, and of similar records showing the organization, policies, and procedures of the agency.

Housekeeping records.--A substantial part of the records of any agency represent the everyday personnel, fiscal, procurement, and propertycontrol actions by which its internal operations are carried on. The evaluation of such records is affected by the retention of related records by the Treasury Department, the Civil Service Commission, and the General ACcounting Office and by the minor character of most of the transactions involved. In general, it is necessary for agencies other than those just cited to retain indefinitely, or transfer to the National Archives, only the following housekeeping records:

1. An adequate basic personnel record for each employee.
2. General ledgers and appropriation and allotment ledgers, or rec-

ords and registers of original entry. 3. Records relating to the acquisition or alienation of real property. Some kinds of housekeeping records are now covered in general schedules applying to all agencies, and others will be covered in the future (see page 18).

Operating records.--The bulk of the records of most agencies are not those that record its general management, the determination of its policies, or its internal administration but rather those that record the specific individual transactions that make up its actual operations. For example, in the Selective Service System it is the minutes and classification books and the individual registrants' folders in the local boards that make up the bulk of the records; in the Patent Office it is the file of patents applications and patents issued; in the Veterans' Administration it is the folders relating to individual veterans; in such agencies as the Interstate Commerce Commission, the Federal Trade Commission, or the Federal Communications Commission it is the files relating to individual cases.

These records not only have the greatest bulk, but they present also the most serious problems of evaluation. Generally they are organized in

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