ARCHIVES 2015 has ended
Tuesday, August 18 • 10:30am - 11:00am
Research Forum Session 3: Friend, Foe or Frenemy?: Relationship Vocabularies as a Source of Power and Confusion

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The development of recent standards in archival description, notably Encoded Archival Context – Corporate bodies, Persons and Families (EAC-CPF), provides a new arena for archival description development. Linked data movements have occurred in parallel to the development of communication standards that could foster a reconceptualization of relationships between entities. This research focuses on the relationships between entities as reflected in existing archival description embedded in narrative text. Research questions explored include the nature of relationships included in archival description, the influence of domain on the relationship structures identified, and the challenges of relationship vocabularies. This research is based on source data from 167 American literary figures' archival collection descriptions as well as biographical resources. Social networks were constructed and a relationship vocabulary was organically developed from the narrative description. A data set of over 65,000 relationships was established with over 800 relationship terms derived. The patterns that emerge from a categorization of this vocabulary construction will be discussed. This research focuses not on the existence of real social networks among the original set of figures but on the inclusion and description of relationships in archival description. The results of this investigation hope to instigate a discussion about the types of relationships that make an essential contribution to archival context and the significance of relationships in archival description. This work should inform best practice recommendations for the application of description standards, centered on relationships as a core component. This research has been supported by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, RE-04-11-007 and the Emily Hollowell Research Fund at the School of Library and Information Science at Simmons College.

About the Author:

Katherine M. Wisser is an assistant professor at the School of Library and Information Science at Simmons College in Boston, Massachusetts. She serves as co-director of the Dual Degree program in Archives and History and director of the post-Masters Archives Certificate program. She received a BA in History from Bates College, an MA in History from the University of New Hampshire, and an MSLS and PhD in Information Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Since 2000, she has taught introductory and advanced courses on various topics in the organization of information and archival services. Wisser has also taught numerous workshops on various metadata standards. In 2006, she was appointed chair of the international EAC Working Group, responsible for Encoded Archival Context – Corporate bodies, Persons, and Families (EAC-CPF). She currently serves as co-chair of the Technical Subcommittee for EAC-CPF and EAC-CPF Tag Library editor. 


Katherine M. Wisser

Associate Professor, Simmons College
Katherine M. Wisser is Associate Professor and co-Director of the Dual Degree program in Archives and History at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at Simmons College. Previously, she served as the Director of Instructional Services at the School of Information... Read More →

Tuesday August 18, 2015 10:30am - 11:00am EDT
Room 26A Cleveland Convention Center, 300 Lakeside Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44114

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