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Social Networks and Archival Context
ProducerSocial Networks and Archival Context (United States)
History2010 to present
Format coverageFinding aids

Social Networks and Archival Context (SNAC) is an online project for discovering, locating, and using distributed historical records in regard to individual people, families, and organizations.[1]


SNAC was established in 2010, with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA),[2] California Digital Library (CDL), Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities (IATH) at the University of Virginia and the University of California, Berkeley School of Information.[3][4][5] The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation funded the second phase of the project from 2012 to 2014.[5]

One of the project's tools is a radial-graph feature which helps identify a social network of a subject's connections to related historical individuals.[6]

SNAC is used alongside other digital archives to connect related historical records.[7]

SNAC is an ongoing research project that focuses on obtaining data from both national and international archives, libraries, and museums to gather as much information about the historical persons, ancestry, and institutions. With SNAC developing a network of both local and global organizations, data from these associations are used to increase the information available about a subject without the daunting of searching and finding dispersed information.[8]

In the first phase of the project, the U.S. National Endowment for the Humanities supplied funding, enabling SNAC to gather and review record descriptions that contain information about the file creator or the person chronicled history. Creating collections of individuals, ancestry, and institutions after extracting data from the record descriptions. Also, the descriptions are used to draw connections between the records. By collecting data from record descriptions, SNAC develops a research tool that pulls all the available data related to a subject and place it in a central location. As opposed to having information about the subject dispersed throughout different organizations.

To continue to the success of the project, the SNAC developers established an international cooperative where researchers, librarians, and archivists can both contribute and monitor the information submitted about the history of a person, heritage, and associations.

As the project enters into the second phase, the initiatives to expand current data and to continue finding various sources to contribute to the program. With the work steadily growing, it has led to the U.S. Institute for Museum and Library Services supplying financial support and SNAC partnering with NARA (U.S. National Archives and Records Administration) to manage an international cooperative as the project advances. [9]

Data Gathering[edit]

The information found in Encoded Archival Description (EAD) finding aids is extracted and turned into Encoded Archival Context-Corporate Bodies, Persons, and Families (EAC-CPF) files. EAC-CPF records with similar information are paired together to create a cohesive selection of description files.  [10]

Aside from utilizing EAD finding aids, bibliographic catalogs like Machine-Readable Cataloging (MARC) and MARC21 are used to incorporate additional data to the EAC-CPF records, increasing the information available on historical people and places. To connect the correct data to the proper subject, the SNAC developers use Virtual International Authority File (VIAF) to verify names and additional information linked to the item.  [11]

Much of the data sources come from both national and international institutions, increasing the amount of information connected to one subject. With contributions coming from various organizations, it helps researchers, librarians, and archivists reduce the amount of time spent searching for all available resources connected to the subject.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bromley, Anne (November 8, 2017). "Digital Social Network Linking the Living and the Dead Expands". UVA Today. Retrieved 10 January 2019.
  2. ^ Ferriero, David (August 18, 2015). "Introducing SNAC". National Archives - AOTUS blog. Retrieved May 8, 2017.
  3. ^ "SNAC: Social Networks and Archival Context". socialarchive.iath.virginia.edu. Archived from the original on 2016-06-19. Retrieved 2017-05-08.
  4. ^ Larson, Ray R.; Pitti, Daniel; Turner, Adrian (2014). "SNAC: The Social Networks and Archival Context project - Towards an archival authority cooperative". IEEE/ACM Joint Conference on Digital Libraries. JCDL 2014. pp. 427–428. doi:10.1109/JCDL.2014.6970208.
  5. ^ a b Pitti, Daniel, Social Networks and Archival Context Project (PDF), University of Virginia, p. 1, retrieved 10 January 2019.
  6. ^ Howard, Jennifer (May 13, 2012). "Projects Aims to Build Online Hub for Archival Materials". The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved 10 January 2018.
  7. ^ Bromley, Anne (October 2, 2018). "UVA Library to Enhance National Digital Archive of African-American Leaders". UVA Today. Retrieved 10 January 2018.
  8. ^ "Social Networks and Archival Context". snaccooperative.org. Retrieved 2019-04-20.
  9. ^ Pitti, Daniel; Hu, Rachael; Larson, Ray; Tingle, Brian; Turner, Adrian (2015-04-03). "Social Networks and Archival Context: From Project to Cooperative Archival Program". Journal of Archival Organization. 12 (1–2): 77–97. doi:10.1080/15332748.2015.999544. ISSN 1533-2748.
  10. ^ Crowe, Katherine; Clair, Kevin (2015-10-02). "Developing a Tool for Publishing Linked Local Authority Data". Journal of Library Metadata. 15 (3–4): 227–240. doi:10.1080/19386389.2015.1099993. ISSN 1938-6389.
  11. ^ Pitti, Daniel; Hu, Rachael; Larson, Ray; Tingle, Brian; Turner, Adrian (2015-04-03). "Social Networks and Archival Context: From Project to Cooperative Archival Program". Journal of Archival Organization. 12 (1–2): 77–97. doi:10.1080/15332748.2015.999544. ISSN 1533-2748.

External links[edit]