By Amanda Nelson, Associate Archivist
For the past year and half, the Niels Bohr Library & Archives (NBLA) staff have been working behind the scenes to update the Center for History of Physics’ Array of Contemporary American Physicists (ACAP) resource. ACAP was created by Will Thomas, a former post-doctoral historian at AIP, and contains information on over 800 physicists and associated scientists who worked in the United States of America for extended periods between 1945 and the present. This information is interlinked, so that users can explore how different scientists were connected through institutions and by the intellectual content of their work.
Since our website has moved to a new Drupal content management system, the archives staff have been working on migrating the information currently found in ACAP into a new XML-based archival standard called Encoded Archival Context – Corporate Bodies, People, and Families (EAC-CPF). By implementing these changes, researchers will have more flexibility than ever before. EAC-CPF allows us to show relationships between people, where they worked, and the books and archival resources they’ve created or are subjects of. We will be able to easily grow the number of biographies and institutional histories available and expand it beyond the criteria currently used. We will be working with Will Thomas as we implement these changes to ACAP. We plan on having a beta version of the new website up by the end of 2015 with a gradual changeover to the new version by mid-2016.
Additionally, many of the largest libraries and archives in the United States are working on EAC-CPF and implementing it on a global scale to include all resource creators. NBLA is pleased to announce that we will be a pilot member of the Social Networks and Archival Context (SNAC) Cooperative recently funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Over the next two years our Associate Archivist, Amanda Nelson, and Assistant Director, Melanie Mueller, will meet with other pilot project members to help develop the governance structure, and both the maintenance and public facets of the technological platform being created. Please see below for the full press release.
We're looking forward to bringing these new changes to our users soon and will be keeping you apprised of our progress. If you have any questions about this project please email us at nbl [at] aip.org.
Social Networks and Archival Context Cooperative Program Launches
The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), the University of Virginia, and the California Digital Library are pleased to announce the launching of the Social Networks and Archival Context (SNAC) Cooperative Program. The two-year pilot phase of the Cooperative is generously funded by a $1 million grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to the University of Virginia.
NARA will serve as the secretariat of the Cooperative, and the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities at the University of Virginia, in collaboration with the California Digital Library, will host the technical platform.
While the Cooperative is ultimately intended to be international, the inaugural pilot members are drawn from a cross-section of U.S. archives, libraries, and museums.
- American Institute of Physics
- American Museum of Natural History
- George Washington University
- Getty Research Institute
- Harvard University
- Library of Congress
- National Archives and Records Administration
- New York Public Library
- Princeton University
- Smithsonian Institution
- Tufts University
- University of California, Irvine
- University of Miami
- Yale University
The pilot phase of the Cooperative will have both social and technological objectives. The social objectives include developing the secretariat administrative structure, and developing a community-based governance structure. The primary technological objective will be transforming the SNAC R&D platform into a platform that will support ongoing cooperative maintenance of the SNAC description and access data. Inaugural members will be key partners in developing the governance structure, and both the maintenance and public facets of the technological platform. While new members will not be added during the two-year pilot implementation, the Cooperative will welcome expressions of interest in future membership.
SNAC began as an R&D project in 2010 with a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The project has demonstrated the feasibility of separating the description of persons, families, and organizations—including their socio-historical contexts—from the description of the historical resources that are the primary evidence of their lives and work. SNAC has also demonstrated that the biographical-historical data extracted and assembled can be used to provide researchers with convenient, integrated access to historical collections held by archives and libraries, large and small, around the world.
Initial work made it clear that the potential power of the assembled data to transform research and improve the economy and effectiveness of archival descriptive practices required more than digital tools. With funding from the Institute for Museum and Library Services and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the SNAC team performed detailed planning on how best to transform the R&D into a sustainable international cooperative that would enable archivists, librarians, and scholars to maintain the descriptive data and to extend the scope of the people and records included. The SNAC Cooperative aspires to improve the economy and quality of archival processing and description, and at the same time, to address the longstanding research challenge of discovering, locating, and using distributed historical records.
SNAC is the recipient of the 2015 Society of American Archivists C.F.W. Coker Award. One supporter wrote that SNAC "will fundamentally begin to change the landscape of archival description: the program will be a substantive contribution to the national, and indeed, international platform, making the description of archives more efficient and effective, and significantly ameliorating the challenge of discovering, locating, and understanding the resources that document our shared history."
The Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities at the University of Virginia, the California Digital Library, and the School for Information Science at the University of California, Berkeley collaborated on the SNAC R&D (2010-2015). The same organizations and the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration collaborated on planning the SNAC Cooperative (2012-2015). During the planning process, archivists, librarians, researchers, scholars, and funders were consulted and provided invaluable assistance.
The SNAC History Research Tool is available at http://socialarchive.iath.virginia.edu/snac/search
For additional information, please contact John Martinez at NARA: john.martinez [at] nara.gov