The Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities at the University of Virginia; the California Digital Library, University of California; and the School of Information, University of California, Berkeley are pleased to announce The Social Networks and Archival Context (SNAC) Project, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), Preservation & Access, Research & Development Program. The two-year project will begin in May 2010.

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 to and understanding of cultural resources in archives, libraries, and museums.

Leveraging the recently released 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 new ways. First, it will create an efficient open-source tool that allows archivists to separate the process of describing people from that of describing records, meaning that it will pave the way for improving the quality of description and the quantity of resources described. Second, it will create a prototype historical resource and access system which will be based on creator descriptions—linked to one another and 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 project will derive EAC-CPF records from existing archival finding aids from the Library of Congress, the Online Archive of California, the Northwest Digital Archive, and Virginia Heritage. Derived records will be matched against and enhanced with data from name authority files supplied by the Library of Congress (Library of Congress/NACO Name Authority File), Getty Vocabulary Program (Union List of Artist Names), and OCLC Research (providing data from the Virtual International Authority File (VIAF)).

The SNAC collaborators will establish a project Web site in the next few weeks. The Web site will provide detailed information on the project as well as provide access to the narrative of the proposal submitted to NEH.

The project collaborators wish to thank the participating institutions for granting access to data and permission to use them for research purposes:

Finding Aids:

Library of Congress (http://lcweb2.loc.gov/faid/)

Online Archive of California (http://www.oac.cdlib.org/)

Northwest Digital Archive (http://nwda.wsulibs.wsu.edu/)

Virginia Heritage (http://www2.lib.virginia.edu/small/vhp/)

Authority Records:

Library of Congress/NACO Name Authority File (http://authorities.loc.gov/)

The Getty Vocabulary Program Union List of Artist Names (http://www.getty.edu/research/conducting_research/vocabularies/)

Virtual International Authority File (http://viaf.org/)

Finally, we would like to thank The National Endowment for the Humanities (http://www.neh.gov/) for funding the project.