22 September 2015

Social Networks and Archival Context (SNAC) Project -- the potential to really help our research

The Social Networks and Archival Context (SNAC) Project is in its infancy and it has the potential to become another tool in our genealogist toolkit.

We always have the issue of information that we seek being stored in disparate and dispersed collections and it takes a lot of effort to identify, locate and correlate these data sources with the person, place or event we are researching.  This tool has the potential to facilitate our research. It’s unlikely that your ancestors will be directly found and others in the community or those for whom better records survive (e.g. a biggy wig who lived nearby) might help guide us to material that will help with our own family history research.

Dick Eastman introduces the project in Introducing SNAC.

The SNAC project page states ...

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 resources. It is buried in isolated guides and finding aids that are stored in different, isolated systems.

As a visual person and believer in the concept that pictures can speak a 1000 words, here is a sample from SNAC for Bennett Henderson Young.

What do you think? Will such linked information benefit your family history research?

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