Cooperative Program

The SNAC Cooperative Program (SNAC-C) has archive, library, and museum members. The long-term objective of the Cooperative is an ever-expanding international membership that will together build an ever-expanding corpus of reliable descriptions of people linked to and providing contextual understanding of the historical records that are the primary evidence for understanding their lives and work.

The Cooperative will serve both the member institutions, and researchers, teachers, and others that are interested in persons, organizations, and families and the historical records that document their lives and work.

The Cooperative will serve the members institutions in two important ways. First, sharing the descriptions of the people that created and are documented in historical documents will lead to processing efficiencies. When a person, organization, or family is documented by one member institution, it is available for use by all of the other members. Rather than duplicating descriptions within each institution's descriptive system, one well-curated description will be available to all. Second, the links out to holdings in many institutions and the historical social network links within enables unified access to distributed holdings, and provides both documentary and social context for understanding the holdings. Through sharing descriptions, the Cooperative will enable archives, libraries, and museums to realize complementary economic benefits, eliminating duplicative work and producing more effective description.

The Cooperative will serve researchers, teachers, and others in two ways. First, it will significantly ameliorate the challenge of discovering and locating the resources that document our shared history. Painstakingly piecing together these networks constitutes an essential and time-consuming historical research activity. SNAC also makes explicit what has been, at best, implicit in archival description: the social-professional-intellectual networks within which the lives and work of the people documented in historical resources took place. SNAC, in essence, reveals a global social-document network that connects the past to the present.


The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration serves as the Cooperative Secretariat, and the University of Virginia, in collaboration with the California Digital Library, hosts the technological platform.

The current two-year pilot phase (2015-2017) of the SNAC Cooperative formally began August 1, 2015. It is generously funded by a $1 million grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to the University of Virginia.

The pilot phase of the Cooperative has both social and technological objectives. The social objectives include developing the Secretariat administrative structure, and developing a community-based governance structure. The primary technological objective will be transforming the SNAC R&D platform into a platform that will support ongoing cooperative maintenance of the SNAC description and access data.