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Understanding the machine readable numeric record: Archival challenges, with some comments on appraisal guidelinesIn the past, raw information was frequently destroyed because it could not be stored, thereby precluding effective scholarly use of the materials. Today's computer technology allows preservation and compact storage of enormous quantities of highly detailed information. Maintenance of information in conventional paper format often required severe access restrictions to protect anonymity of particular cases, a problem which can be alleviated by utilizing the computer to delete or mask the identity of the individuals involved. The value of any archival record is enhanced by the existence of other sources, which when used in tandem more completely describe the social, administrative, or economic process. This is especially true of the machine readable record, where source materials from one file can be more easily linked with other files to provide more complete documentation of particular events and transactions, thus augmenting the potential value and increasing the analytic or explanatory potential of the original records.