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Social Networks in Archival Contexts (SNAC)

SNAC is demonstrating 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. A key objective is to provide researchers with convenient, integrated access to historical collections held by multiple private and public archives and libraries around the world while also setting the stage for a cooperative program for maintaining information about the people documented in the collections.

SNAC is addressing a longstanding research challenge: discovering, locating, and using distributed historical records. Scholars use these records as primary evidence for understanding the lives and work of historical persons and the events in which they participated. These records are held in archives and manuscript libraries, large and small, around the world. Scholars may need to search scores of different archives one by one, following clues, hunches, and leads to find the records relevant to their topic. Furthermore, descriptive practices may differ from one archive or library to another. The research is time consuming and inefficient: clues and leads may be easily overlooked and important resources undiscovered.

The data needed to address this research challenge already exists in the guides, catalogs, and finding aids that archivists and librarians create to document and provide access to the archival resourcess. It is buried in isolated guides and finding aids that are stored in different, isolated systems.

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