Karin Bredenberg: Records creators - Use of EAC-CPF in Archives Portal Europe

published under CC-BY-SA license


The APEnet project successfully established, within the Archives Portal Europe network, a common profile for the use of the international archival standard EAD (Encoded Archival Description) as a basis for central data conversion, validation, indexing and presentation. Work Package 4 (WP4) of the APEx project has sought to improve on this achievement by advancing the Archives Portal Europe’s specific standards and guidelines. More specifically, WP4 has been adapting the Encoded Archival Context – Corporate Bodies, Person, Families (EAC-CPF) used for describing an authority. The main focus was on establishing a profile so that the EAC-CPF standard could be used in the Archives Portal Europe. This article tries to give some insight on the benefits of using EAC-CPF in the portal. It also presents the progress made and the work completed so far, together with some information about the implementation in the portal.


In the portal today and tomorrow

The Archives Portal Europe currently holds information regarding archival institutions and finding aids. The finding aids are one way for researchers to acquire knowledge regarding which archival institutions may hold the information they seek and where the archival material is located. Researchers wanting to find all archives created by a specific creator might not have a successful plight if they search only for the archives’ name. This is because the archives’ name and title do not hold the name of the creator. To improve the chances of successful searches, it is necessary to describe and link the creators to the finding aids in the portal.


How can we describe the creators?

To describe creators, corporate bodies, persons and families the International Council on Archives (ICA) has developed the standard International Standard Archival Authority Record For Corporate Bodies, Persons and Families (ISAAR(CPF)). The ISAAR(CPF) standard is accompanied by an XML based format that can be used either as a storage format or as an exchange format. The XML based format is the Encoded Archival Context – Corporate bodies, Persons and Familes (EAC-CPF) and is developed by the Technical Subcommittee on Encoded Archival Context (TS EAC) hosted by the Society of American Archivists (SAA). TS EAC has members from all over the world representing both libraries and archives. The published version of EAC-CPF is hosted at the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin. EAC-CPF is described with the help of schemas in different schema languages, making it possible to create XML documents that follow the format, with a Tag Library (TL) describing all the elements and their use.

Using EAC-CPF, an existing standard originating from ICA, in the portal follows the decisions of using Encoded Archival Description (EAD) and Encoded Archival Guide (EAG), both XML based formats accompanying the ICA standard General International Standard Archival Description (ISAD(G)) and the International Standard for Describing Institutions with Archival Holdings (ISDIAH). The work of creating a profile for the use of EAC-CPF in the portal has therefore been undertaken and performed. The work though, does not stop with creating the profile. Maintenance and updates according to the partners needs are made by the project’s own dedicated EAC-CPF standard group.


Mandatory information

During the work with the creation of the profile for use in the portal a decision was made to make only a few additional elements mandatory besides the elements that are mandatory in the format from the beginning, whilst not prohibiting the description of creators of having more information. The mandatory elements are described in the same fashion as EAD and EAG on a Microsoft Excel table that lists all available elements and another table listing the mandatory elements. Following is a table of the mandatory elements in the apeEAC-CPF profile:

recordId Identification of the EAC-CPF record
agencyCode Identification code of the agency responsible for the description
agencyName The name of the responsible agency
agent Name of agent responsible for an event regarding the description
agentType Classification of the agent: is it a machine or a human
eventDateTime When has the event taken place
eventType Description of the event following a predefined list of values containing for example new, updated
part The name of the EAC-CPF entity is divided into part elements that with the help of an attribute named localType gives the opportunity to classify the type of name being given. The attribute has a predefined list of values containing for example first name and surname.
existDates When did the EAC-CPF entity exist or live


The first delivery[1]

In 2013 the project team delivered the first EAC-CPF items, consisting of:

  • the previously mentioned MS Excel sheet;
  • a restricted schema;
  • examples of the schema application;
  • mock-ups for proposed EAC-CPF functionalities in the portal
  • an on-line form in the administrative part of the portal where a person or entity delivering material to the portal can create one ore more EAC-CPF records.

Following the first delivery, various updates to all the deliveries have been made.


Creating EAC-CPF records

Person or entities delivering material to the portal can create records in different ways. Some of the partners are making custom transformations of information in their own database or already made EAC-CPF records to follow the apeEAC-CPF profile. As mentioned earlier a creation form is available in the portal for creation of EAC-CPF records. There will also with the help of tools created by the Social Networks and Archival Context Project (SNAC) be EAC-CPF records created by extracting information from the EAD records present in the portal as done in the SNAC project.


Information regarding EAC-CPF in the portal can be found at http://www.apex-project.eu/index.php/outcomes/standards (viewed 19 February 2014) 

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