Demographics Statement

Following the spirit and intent of the SNAC Cooperative Ethos statement, we are committed to approaching the complex task of creating demographic description of creators—corporate bodies, persons, and families—in a responsible and humane manner, according to professional archival standards. We understand that demographic categories, such as gender and nationality, are socially constructed labels, and how people and groups self-identify is fluid and changes over time.  
The use of demographic categories in SNAC is designed to assist in describing individuals as related to records they created or are the subject of, not to categorize persons, corporate bodies or families.  We capture and express this data publicly to provide researchers with key access points that have often been obscured, conflated, or unintentionally segregated in other previous systems. Demographic data offers valuable and rich information for researchers and allows accurate representation of various communities, including under-represented groups.
Recognizing the sensitivity and care with which we should undertake creating demographic data, SNAC has developed the set of guiding principles outlined below:
  • We privilege a creator’s self-identification over other evidence, insofar as it does not lead to mischaracterizations.
  • We strive for transparency and evidence-based description, including citations and notes to document our description.
  • We recognize description is a complex and iterative process and must change and adapt to the shifting ways humans identify themselves over time. We recognize the value of historic terminologies as well as modern user discovery needs. 
  • We strive to avoid making assumptions; there are no default values supplied when creating demographic description.
  • Lack of a demographic statement is not a statement. We encourage avoiding creating description where a null value implicitly or explicitly equates to “white” or “male.”
  • We will promptly review, modify, or remove any demographic description for privacy concerns, errors, or omissions.
  • Ultimately, any description provided will be grounded in the context of the collection materials themselves.