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Future Knowledge Lecture: Daniel Pitti

Social Networks and Archival Context: From Research to Cooperative Program

Social Networks and Archival Context (SNAC (2010- )), currently a research project, is in the early stages of being transformed into an international archival description cooperative hosted by the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration. The long-term technological objective for the Cooperative is a platform that will support a continuously expanding, curated corpus of reliable biographical descriptions of people linked to and providing contextual understanding of the historical records that function as primary evidence for understanding their lives and work. In the research phase, SNAC has demonstrated that the descriptions of people embedded in archival descriptions of historical records can be extracted and assembled into a social-document network. This network provides the foundation for a History Research Tool that provides integrated access to dispersed historical resources as well as the social and historical context for understanding and interpreting the resources. The Cooperative will be responsible for the ongoing expansion and curation of the assembled SNAC social-document data and the ongoing development of the History Research Tool.


Pitti is the Director of the Social Networks and Archival Context Cooperative (SNAC), University of Virginia Library; and chair of the International Council on Archives Expert Group on Archival Description (ICA EGAD). From 1997 until 2017, Pitt served as the Associate Director of the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities (IATH). During his time in IATH, Pitti participated in the design and implementation of many of the faculty fellows' projects, as well as being the principal architect of two international archival description standards, Encoded Archival Description (EAD), and Encoded Archival Context-Corporate Bodies, Persons, and Families (EAC-CPF). Based on EAC-CPF, Pitti launched SNAC in 2010 as an R&D project. In 2015 SNAC became a cooperative program, currently with 29 member repositories. SNAC has received funding from NEH (2010-2012), IMLS (2011-2013), and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation (2012-2019). As chair of ICA EGAD, Pitti is leading the development of the Records in Contexts (RiC) standard that aspires to be the foundation of next-generation archival description and access. Prior to coming to UVa in 1997, Pitti served as the Librarian for Advanced Technology Projects at the University of California, Berkeley. 

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