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Advances in the Study of Information and Religion

Abstract

In creating an appraisal policy to support the documentation of a church, synagogue or other religious movement, an archives must decide whether to gloss over the religious aspect of its mission and seek to document itself as an organization which happens to be religious, or to attempt to engage the messy question of belief to document the faith group itself. This paper will examine the problems and possibilities of appraisal in religious archives. I will first discuss the development of the last forty years of appraisal theory regarding religious archives, and then examine how that literature has been applied at the Archives of the Episcopal Church, a religious repository in Austin, Texas. Finally, I will discuss how a repository could combine the implications of both the literature and its application at the two repositories to create or update an appraisal policy that would support the full and faithful documentation of a religious group, using the newly-established archives of the Austin’s Congregation Agudas Achim as an example.

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