Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

James M. O'Toole

Second Advisor

Thomas A. McMullin

Third Advisor

Stephen Mrozowski


One of the major challenges of archival work is determining what materials to include in, and conversely exclude from, the collection. Until recently, appraisal guidelines in archival manuals and literature have viewed archival collections in terms of hierarchical arrangements outlined on organizational charts. This thesis offers a functional analysis, or an examination of an institution's mission and activities, as an alternative means of viewing archival collections, especially in an institutional setting. The Museum of Science, Boston is used as a case study.

This thesis is comprised of three major sections. The first chapter traces the history of the Museum of Science with particular emphasis on its changing functions. An institutional archivist must first understand the history of the institution before an adequate collection policy or interpretation of the records can be developed. The second chapter reviews archival literature relating to appraisal and arrangement techniques for different repositories and describes how a functional analysis can be a useful tool for archivists. The third chapter reviews past and current theories of the functions of museums to provide a context for the Museum of Science. It also identifies education, administration, and entertainment as the functions of the Museum of Science.


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