Information Access Seminar

The Social Networks and Archival Context Project

Friday, February 4, 2011
3:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Ray Larson, Krishna Janakiraman, & Sean Marimpietri

Archivists have a long history of describing the people who, acting individually, in families, or in formally organized groups, create and collect primary sources. Archivists 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. 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 Social Networks and Archival Context Project (SNAC) will use digital technology to "unlock" descriptions of people from descriptions of their records and link them together in exciting new ways. It will create an efficient open-source tool that allows archivists to separate the process of describing people from that of records and 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. The prototype access system will demonstrate that descriptions of persons, families, and organizations can be used as access points to archive, library, and museum resources.

The Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities at the University of Virginia will lead the SNAC project in partnership with the California Digital Library and Berkeley's School of Information. EAC-CPF records will be derived from existing archival finding aids from the Library of Congress, the Online Archive of California, the Northwest Digital Archive, and Virginia Heritage; and also from name authority files supplied by the Library of Congress, Getty Vocabulary Program, and OCLC Research. (See

This presentation will look again at the project, and present some work in progress by MIMS students Krishna Janakiraman and Sean Marimpietri based on the SNAC data. We will also demonstrate the new public access prototype for browsing and searching the data.

Last updated:

March 26, 2015