Archival Values

Related Links
A List of Archival Series


Each governmental entity is ultimately responsible to the citizens of the state to carry out the functions the citizens have charged the agency with. Evidential records document the fulfillment of that obligation. Records created specifically to serve as evidentiary documents are relatively easy to identify: minutes, policy manuals, and executive directives are a few examples. Other records provide evidence, but were not specifically created for that purpose. For instance, press releases, correspondence, and internal memoranda often have archival value. When evidential records are filed with materials of a more transitory nature they are more difficult to recognize and much more difficult to manage.


State agencies also create or gather data. This data may have enduring value in and of itself. Some data may be used again for a related study or applied in an entirely new way. The Archives and Information Services Division must collect and maintain data as well as evidential records in order to fulfill its function to provide historical materials for the study of Texas and Texans. Identifying records that contain information of archival value can be difficult.

The answers to three classes of questions regarding the agency's data determine long-term information value:

  1. Is the information unique?

    Can it be found elsewhere? For instance, did the agency create or gather the data in the series or is some of it duplicated and transcribed from another source? (And, what is the source?) Has the data been published by the agency or others? (Under what title?) Has the data been duplicated and filed with another agency? (What agency?)
  2. In what form is the information?

    Is the data valid and useful? Is the data raw or analyzed? Has any data been removed or concentrated? In general, information in its most summarized and condensed form is preferred over raw data unless the potential for the re-use of the raw data is high.

    Is the data arranged appropriately for further uses?

    Is the data readable?

    Agencies may use formats necessary to conduct their business. TSLAC can accept records in most formats, however, highly specialized formats can be difficult to preserve long-term, and proprietary formats (especially those with expensive licensing requirements) need to be discussed in the consultation phase of the transfer. The same is true for older legacy formats still held by the agency that may no longer be in use. The agency may need to convert records in specialized formats into a more common format prior to transfer or provide TSLAC with copies of software or licenses necessary to access records in these formats.

  3. How important is the data?

    Will researchers now or in the future need to consult the data?

In some situations the Archives and Information Services Division will solicit expert advice from subject specialists in the creating agency, in the affected professions, and in academia before a final determination of long-term information value is made.

Page last modified: September 1, 2023