Electronic Records Research 1997: Resource Materials
Compilation Copyright, Archives & Museum Informatics 1998
Article Copyright, Author
WHAT IS AN AUTHENTIC RECORD IN THE TRADITIONAL ENVIRONMENT?
AUTHENTIC RECORD = a record whose genuineness can be established. Authenticity is conferred to a record by its mode, form, and/or state of transmission, and/or manner of preservation and custody. In other words, an authentic record is one whose genuineness can be assumed on the basis of one or more of the following: mode, form and state of transmission, and manner of preservation and custody. (While a reliable record is one whose content you can trust, an authentic record is one whose provenance you can believe.)
Genuineness = the quality of a record that is truly what it purports to be
Mode of transmission: the method by which a record is communicated over space or time.
Requirements: security = control on procedures of collection, delivery, reception, distribution and deposit of the record, on those carrying them out, and on the instruments or means used for carrying them out:
identification of hand carriers, and ground and air carriers
identification of mail office and mail clerks
identification of stamping and transmitting machines
routines for collecting records from the offices producing them
routines for classifying and/or registering outgoing records
routines for stamping and for consigning the records to the carrier
routines for date-stamping, classifying and/or registering incoming records
routines for distributing incoming records
routines for filing copies of outgoing records, incoming records, and internally produced records (after dating, classification and/or registration)
Form of transmission: the form that the record has when it is made or received.
Requirements: presence of one or more of the following extrinsic or intrinsic elements:
entitling (e.g., letterhead) or superscription
date (topical and chronological)
Traditionally, the type of medium, its format, and its chemical composition, as well as the type, colour, and composition of the ink, have been used as means of authenticating records. While these characteristics of form are provided to the records in the course of their formation, rather than transmission or preservation, their explicit purpose is that of facilitating future authentication. It might also be noted that some elements of form, like attestation(s), serve reliability as well as authenticity.
State of transmission: the primitiveness, completeness, and effectiveness of a record when it is initially set aside after being made or received.
Requisites: genuineness is assumed a priori for
copies in the form of original
inserts contained in originals, copies in the form of originals and authentic copies
Manner of preservation and custody = the way in which a record is maintained by its creator and/or legitimate successor.
Requisites: security = control on procedures of identification, filing, retrieval and access, storing, disposition, transfer, preservation, and conservation of the record, on those carrying them out, and on the instruments and means for carrying them out:
existence of a properly authorized records managent office and records management officers
existence of a records keeping system including
a records management written policy
a records management written procedure
an integrated classification/disposition system
a registry system (optional)
a controlled retrieval and access system
an audit system
secure records technologies
records storage equipment and supplies
a secure and natural place of preservation
controlled environmental conditions
existence of proper procedures of transfer to the legitimate successor
existence of proper procedures of preservation and custody
a secure and environmentally controlled building
existence of guarantees of unbroken custody overtime
formally authorized and professionally qualified custodians
a system of finding aids
a controlled and secure system of consultation of the records
a tracking system, a locator system
A non-authentic record can still be proved genuine by expert testimony or by witnesses present to its creation, but cannot be assumed such on its own account.
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