The Connecting the Dots project undertaken by the Houghton Library at Harvard and the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale in 2012 explored the use of a new archival standard, Encoded Archival Context – Corporate bodies, Persons, and Families (EAC-CPF), to describe creators of manuscript collections and encode meaningful semantic links between those creators and the primary sources that document their lives and work. The project focused on lexicographer Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) and his circle of fellow writers, artists, political thinkers and friends, as well as collectors thereof.

This site documents the second stage of the project which we call "Manner of Belonging: Interstitial Description of Dr. Johnson's Circle" --or MOB:ID. The title derives from relevant definitions from Samuel Johnson's Dictionary:

  • Relation: Manner of belonging to any person or thing.
  • Network: Any thing reticulated or decussated, at equal distances, with interstices between the intersections.

This stage focuses on developing and adapting controlled vocabulary to characterize relationships between entities (corporate bodies, persons, families) and between entities and resources.  We will use the relations documented in our existing EAC-CPF records for Samuel Johnson and his circle as our test data.

The Connecting the Dots Library Lab project identified the need for controlled vocabulary to express more nuanced relationships than can be expressed currently within EAC-CPF.  The immediate benefit of this project will be richer EAC-CPF at Harvard and Yale, as we develop standards both institutions can use. Furthermore, this project will provide a critical contribution to the ongoing development of archival description.  The use of Linked Data in archival metadata, an emerging area with exciting possibilities for transforming researcher discovery and access to primary resources, requires a rich ontology for expressing archival relationships.  The continuation of our project will add to the work of others who have begun to engage with this challenge--in particular, this project will help inform the conceptual model for archival description that the Committee on Best Practices and Standards of the International Council of Archives (ICA) will be developing over the next four years, a model aimed at promoting consistency among various archival descriptive standards.

Houghton Library, Harvard University: Susan Pyzynski, Melanie Wisner, Suzanne Sutherland, Tricia Patterson
Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University: Ellen Doon, Michael Rush, Mark Custer