In her post doctoral research project The Impartial Authorities and the Gatekeepers of National History – The Appraisal Policies of Public Records from the 1940s to the 2010s Hupaniittu will analyze the appraisal policies of the National Archives Service and its predecessor the Committee for the Reduction of Archival Material from the year 1947 to present and to see beyond the façade of impartiality and neutrality.
What kind of ideologies of Finland as a nation or of national heritage and history can be seen on the appraisal decision made by these institutional organs? What kind of expertise the organs have utilized in their tasks? Who were the persons in these organs and what kind of networks they were involved? How has the appraisal policies responded to ideological and cultural changes as well as to the development of state authorities and institutions?
The public sector administration has grown rapidly and the amount of public records accumulated beyond quantities that were able to be preserved. Thus the questions of appraisal and reduction of public records became current issue in the first half of 20th century. The Committee for the Reduction of Archival Material was established in 1947 to appraise the public records and to prepare proposals for disposal of records. The committee functioned continuously until 1970 and from that onwards the National Archives Service has been the legal authority on appraisal and disposal. The Law of Archives (1981/184, 20th February 1981) confirmed the National Archives Services to be the sole authority on disposal of all public records.
Both the Committee for the Reduction of Archival Material and the National Archives Service are said to hold their position as impartial and neutral authority on the questions of appraisal and disposal. They are said to have discarded only the most trivial and useless materials for the historical or other academic research. Nevertheless the neutrality or impartiality cannot be reached as such, as both organs have made subjective selections as they have discarded some materials and preserved others. Further on the notions of selection and appraisal carry with them implications of “necessary” and “unnecessary”, “valuable” and “valueless” or even “right” and “wrong”. Both organs have valued the archival materials and decided what is worthy of preserving. In all, they have acted as the gatekeepers of the national history when selecting records for disposal.