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 people who create and are represented in the materials comprising 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 finding aids and link them together in exciting new ways. We will:

  • Create an efficient open-source tool that allows archivists to separate the process of describing people from that of records.
  • Create a prototype integrated portal to creator descriptions—linked to descriptions of resources in archives, libraries and museums; online biographical and historical databases; and other diverse resources—to providing more effective access and robust historical context to a broad array of humanities materials.