The vast increase in the production of documents during and after World War I led to a reconsideration of the role of the archivist in the appraisal of records. This reconsideration took various and quite opposite directions, in particular among English and German archivists. The German archivist has always put preservation before destruction; the English archivist has wished to defer to the office of origin for decisions on records retention. In addition to these two national variations, the author expands his review to include the Norwegian, eastern European, and United States archival contexts. He probes the variety of archival theories and practices of these countries, and concludes with observations on the further development of appraisal criteria in light of automation, market value theory, and democratization in eastern Europe.

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