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Social Networks and Archival Context
ProducerSocial Networks and Archival Context (United States)
History2010 to present
Format coverageFinding aids

Social Networks and Archival Context (SNAC) is an online project for discovering, locating, and using distributed historical records in regard to individual people, families, and organizations. [1]


The project

SNAC is a digital research project that focuses on obtaining records data from various archives, libraries, and museums, so the biographical history of individuals, ancestry, or institutions are incorporated into a single file as opposed to the data being spread throughout different associations, thereby lessen the task of searching various memory organizations to locate the knowledge one seeks. [2] SNAC is used alongside other digital archives to connect related historical records. [3]

One of the project's tools is a radial-graph feature which helps identify a social network of a subject's connections to related historical individuals. [4]

The Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities (IATH), University of Virginia; the School of Information, University of California, Berkeley (SI/UCB), and the California Digital Library (CDL), University of California are the three primary organizations responsible for processing the different elements of the project. [2]

IATH conducts the project and also collect sourcing data from participating institutions, compile record descriptions from MARC catalogs and EAD finding aids, and turned them into EAC-CPF files.

SI/UCB manages the process of identifying and pairing similar EAC-CPF records to create a unifying file that searchable.

CDL utilizes the Extensible Text Framework (XTF) which connects the different sources that make up a single EAC-CPF file back to its primary resources. [2]

With a variety of organizations such as the Library of Congress, Smithsonian Institution, and British Library contributing data to the project, it allows the SNAC team to collect a substantial amount of information available on a subject. [2]


SNAC was established in 2010, with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), [5] California Digital Library (CDL), Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities (IATH) at the University of Virginia and the University of California, Berkeley School of Information. [6] [7] [8] The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation funded the second phase of the project from 2012 to 2014. [8]

With the U.S. National Endowment for Humanities supplying financing, the first half of the project began, enabling the developers of SNAC to explore data extraction from the file creator and develop a model of the record description system. By gathering the contents found within the record creator, it helps to broaden the knowledge available on the entity biographical history. [9] [10] [11]

With the tremendous progress made in the initial stage, planning for the second half of the project centered on adding more contributors to continue to build a dissimilar of information. To help the SNAC team with the second portion of the project, funding was received from the U.S. Institution for Museum and Library Services while global initiatives was managed by the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). [9] [11]

Data gathering

In 2010 the Encoded Archival Context-Corporate Bodies, Persons, and Families (EAC-CPF) was introduced. The new schema allowed each description to live independently from the record creator it was associated with. With the launch of EAC-CPF, the archival field had a universal standard allowing them to use archival authority records differently. [2]

By using a few archival practices, the descriptions of the creator are isolated from the file itself. Permitting the gathering of information and building connections between varies entities. Helping to increase access to additional knowledge. Below are the integrated rational elements used to create relationships.

Authority Control – Allows you to locate information related to a subject with multiple or alternate spelling associated with its name through various applications.

Biographical/Historical Resources – Details all events, dates, and places associated with the file creator.

Cooperative Authority Control – Permits libraries to preserve, share, and distribute authority information with other libraries.

Flexible Descriptions – Incorporates a list of multiple institutions associated with a collection connecting the record creator to it.

Integrated Access to Cultural Heritage – Through authority records they act as a unifying folder for all of the descriptions tied to the subject. The authority records help lessen the issue of trying to retain and connect each institution description standard to a family, association, or individual.

Social/Historical Context – Professional and social knowledge linked to the subject help connect to other people, families, and institutions creating an integrated summary of them. [2] [12]

Within a record creator are EAC-CPF files to locate and retrieve them, the SNAC team uses Encoded Archival Description (EAD) finding aids and Machine Readable Catalog (MARC) bibliographic catalogs to gather biographical/historical data. After the information is placed an archival authority record featuring the EAC-CPF knowledge is created. [10] [12]

Once the EAC-CPF record is extracted, the data is compared to other similar files and paired together. To ensure the information is compactible, the SNAC team use Virtual International Authority File (VIAF), Union List of Artist Names (ULAN), and Library of Congress Name Authority File (LCNAF) to establish matches between authority records. [2] [12]

To link the knowledge found in one file to a similar one, names, dates, and other identifying aspects are used to draw a comparison to other related records. Links to where the data originated from is also included in the entity file.

By both national and international institutions providing source data, it increases the amount of information tied to one entity while linking it to other relevant subjects. With contributions from various organizations, it helps researchers, librarians, archivists, scholars, and none scholars locate an array of data available on associations, individuals, and families reducing the amount of time spent searching through an assortment of resources.

See also

Related Research Articles

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In information science, authority control is a process that organizes information, for example in library catalogs, by using a single, distinct spelling of a name (heading) or a numeric identifier for each topic. The word authority in authority control derives from the idea that the names of people, places, things, and concepts are authorized, i.e., they are established in one particular form. These one-of-a-kind headings or identifiers are applied consistently throughout catalogs which make use of the respective authority file, and are applied for other methods of organizing data such as linkages and cross references. Each controlled entry is described in an authority record in terms of its scope and usage, and this organization helps the library staff maintain the catalog and make it user-friendly for researchers.

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Archival science</span> Science of storage, registration and preservation of historical data

Archival science, or archival studies, is the study and theory of building and curating archives, which are collections of documents, recordings and data storage devices.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Digital humanities</span> Area of scholarly activity

Digital humanities (DH) is an area of scholarly activity at the intersection of computing or digital technologies and the disciplines of the humanities. It includes the systematic use of digital resources in the humanities, as well as the analysis of their application. DH can be defined as new ways of doing scholarship that involve collaborative, transdisciplinary, and computationally engaged research, teaching, and publishing. It brings digital tools and methods to the study of the humanities with the recognition that the printed word is no longer the main medium for knowledge production and distribution.

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Metadata</span> Data about data

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The Getty Vocabulary Program is a department within the Getty Research Institute at the Getty Center in Los Angeles, California. It produces and maintains the Getty controlled vocabulary databases, Art and Architecture Thesaurus, Union List of Artist Names, and Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names. They are compliant with ISO and NISO standards for thesaurus construction. The Getty vocabularies are the premiere references for categorizing works of art, architecture, material culture, and the names of artists, architects, and geographic names. They have been the life work of many people and continue to be critical contributions to cultural heritage information management and documentation. They contain terms, names, and other information about people, places, things, and concepts relating to art, architecture, and material culture. They can be accessed online free of charge on the Getty website.

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Museum informatics</span>

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