Date of Award


Degree Name

MA in History




College of Liberal Arts


Andrew Morris

Advisor Department


Advisor College

College of Liberal Arts


The archive and the historian are symbiotically dependent on one another. The archive relies on the historian to make use of the records it houses, and the historian looks to the archive to reconstruct history. But can a historian responsibly reconstruct history when the archive is fraught with relativity and bias? This thesis serves two purposes; one, pulling from seminal archival science and collections management texts, it chronicles the monumental, intellectual changes to American archival sciences, theories, and institutions, and two, it shows how these early conversations pertaining to archival theories are both not far removed from digital preservation efforts and at times incompatible with the unique non-analogous problems created by web-born sources. But as this thesis argues, theoretical offerings are not always the most implementable for archives; the crux of archival science has historically and contemporarily been responsibility versus practicality, particularly in regard to appraisal theory. These problems exacerbate in the digital realm where the sheer amount of records and material produced by the second warrants extremely narrow but careful collecting. To not add to the overwhelming problem of digital appraisal theory, this thesis offers tangible solutions to help mitigate irresponsible collecting practices.