SNAC is sponsored by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Preservation & Access, Research & Development Program.


The Social Networks and Archival Context Project (SNAC) will address the ongoing challenge of transforming description of and improving access to primary humanities resources through the use of advanced technologies. The project will test the feasibility of using existing archival descriptions in new ways, in order to enhance access and understanding of cultural resources in archives, libraries, and museums.

Archivists have a long history of describing the people who—acting individually, in families, or in formally organized groups—create and collect primary sources. They research and describe the artists, political leaders, scientists, government agencies, soldiers, universities, businesses, families, and others who create and are represented in the items that are now part of our shared cultural legacy. However, because archivists have traditionally described records and their creators together, this information is tied to specific resources and institutions. Currently there is no system in place that aggregates and interrelates those descriptions.

Leveraging the new standard Encoded Archival Context–Corporate Bodies, Persons, and Families (EAC–CPF), the SNAC Project will use digital technology to “unlock” descriptions of people from descriptions of their records and link them together in exciting new ways. First, it will create an efficient open–source tool that allows archivists to separate the process of describing people from that of records, meaning that it will pave the way for improving the quality of description and the quantity of resources described. And it will create an integrated portal to creator descriptions—linked to resource descriptions in archives, libraries and museums, online biographical and historical databases, and other diverse resources—thereby providing more effective access and robust historical context to a broad array of humanities materials.

Advisory board
Jodi Allison-Bunnell
Northwest Digital Archives
Scot French
Virginia Center for Digital History, University of Virginia
Edward Gaynor
Virginia Heritage
Mary Lacy
Library of Congress
Michelle Light
University of California, Irvine, Library