Social Networks and Archival Context Project

Session Type: Research/Project Update

Session Description:
Current archival descriptive practices are focused around describing collections with finding aids, often employing the Encoded Archival Description (EAD) standard. Encoded Archival Context for Corporate Bodies, Persons, and Families (EAC-CPF) — adopted by the Society of American Archivists in 2011 — focuses on describing the creators of collections, rather than the collections themselves. Could a change in descriptive focus and practice improve access to historical materials — and lead to the creation of an unprecedented resource for exploring the histories of creators of cultural heritage resources, navigating to dispersed resources by and about those creators, and traversing their social networks?

This question is being investigated by the Social Networks and Archival Context (SNAC) project — a multi-year collaboration between the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, University of Virginia; the School of Information, University of California, Berkeley; and the California Digital Library, generously funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation (2012-2014) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (2010-2012).

Thirteen consortia and over thirty-five leading research repositories in the U.S., U.K., and France are contributing source data to SNAC, either finding aids or archival authority records. Names of corporate bodies, persons, and families are extracted from collection descriptions. The records are then merged with the goal of creating one EAC-CPF record for each named entity which links together collection descriptions and other resources and entities related to the subject of the record.

This update will give a comprehensive overview of the SNAC project, including the technology design of the data processing performed to create the records, the role of linked open data in the project, assessment of the prototype historical resource developed by the project, and the collaboration that is envisioned for turning the research project into an ongoing archival authorities program.

Session Leaders:
Ray R. Larson, School of Information, UC Berkeley
Daniel Pitti, IATH
Brian Tingle, California Digital Library
Adrian Turner, California Digital Library

Session Notes:
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Session Slides:

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