Becoming a SNAC Cooperative Member


SNAC is a cooperatively created and maintained resource for the description of corporate bodies, persons, and families (hereafter CPF entities) interrelated to one another and to the historical resources that provide evidence of their lives and work. As a cooperatively maintained resource, SNAC serves interrelated functions that benefit both cultural heritage professionals, particularly archivists and librarians, and research users of cultural heritage resources.

For archivists and librarians, SNAC serves as a platform for sharing labor-intensive identity resolution and description of shared CPF entities. It also serves as a platform for explicitly connecting dispersed historical resources held in repositories around the world through descriptions of the CPF entities. 

SNAC provides researchers with two major benefits: integrated access to dispersed cultural heritage resources related to people, and access to the social-professional-intellectual networks of the people documented in the resources.

As a cooperative description platform, SNAC has focused on serving archivists and librarians, but it aspires to expand the professional editorial community to include digital humanists interested in being partners in SNAC’s development and maintenance.

Member Benefits

The benefits of membership include the following:

  • Enhancing discovery and use of archival holdings 

  • A platform for sharing labor-intensive identity resolution and description of shared corporate bodies, persons, and families

  • A platform for contextualizing and connecting holdings to related holdings in other repositories around the world

  • Participation in developing the ever-expanding global social-document network represented by the data in SNAC

  • Improving the research economy for researchers by providing integrated discovery of dispersed historical records and documents

  • Enhancing researchers’ understanding of historical records and documents by linking them to the social-professional-intellectual networks of the people documented in them

  • Sharing holdings information with researchers and other archival professionals

  • Contributing to editorial standards and policies that advance archival practice

  • Enhancing the effectiveness of archival processing and description

  • Training in standards-based description of corporate bodies, persons, and families

  • The use of the SNAC API to contribute new data to SNAC, including new CPF descriptions and summary descriptions of local holdings

Additional planned benefits include:

Use of Web extraction services and OpenRefine with SNAC plugin to perform the following:

  • Extract CPF and summary descriptions of local holdings from EAD-encoded finding aids and MARC21 records

  • Normalize and improve the quality of the extracted CPF entities

  • Align the CPF entities with entities in SNAC (identify resolution)

  • Contribute CPF entities, summary resource descriptions, and social networks to SNAC

  • Maintain summary resource descriptions in SNAC

  • Import SNAC identifiers into local archival description for use in catalogs

Use of ArchivesSpace to interoperate with SNAC as part of everyday processing work

Training in the use of extraction services, OpenRefine + SNAC, and ArchivesSpace + SNAC

Training for researchers in the use of SNAC

Use of SNAC to contribute to Wikidata

SNACSchool: Training Workshops

SNAC offers training in archival description of CPF entities (authority control) and use of the SNAC editing client. Training is offered remotely as well as in person to members, prospective members, and volunteer editors. Onsite training is usually scheduled in conjunction with national or regional professional meetings.

Training can also be arranged at member institutions, with the member institution reimbursing the travel expenses of the trainers, and when appropriate, providing honorariums for the trainers.

SNAC instructors are archivists and metadata experts and many have contributed to the development of the course materials.

Types and Levels of Membership

There are three types of members: Charter Members, General Members and Affiliate Members. 


Charter member institutions participated in the SNAC Cooperative pilot program from 2014 to 2019, helping to shape the SNAC program from prototype to production platform and sustainable operations.

General membership is open to organizations with archival holdings including academic, library, museum, government, community archives, non-profit, and private institutions. 

Affiliate membership is open to scholar-directed projects not directly affiliated with an organization with archival holdings.

All members participate in the ongoing work of the Cooperative.

Member Responsibilities

All members are required to participate in the maintenance of CPF and related resource descriptions in SNAC. Though there is no specific effort required, each member is expected to actively contribute new CPF descriptions and cooperatively participate in the maintenance of existing CPF descriptions.

All members are required to maintain their summary resource descriptions in SNAC, including the maintenance of URLs to the full, authoritative descriptions in local or consortial access systems.

All members are expected to contribute to the governance of the SNAC Cooperative. Participation in governance may take the form of serving on the SNAC working groups or contributing feedback to working group products.  Member staff may also, following training, become members of the SNAC School faculty.

Remaining in good standing by complying with the SNAC membership agreement.

Designating one individual within your institution as a primary contact and voting representative.

Supporting your own expenses and costs incurred in participating in the SNAC Cooperative.

Abiding by the intellectual property policy of SNAC.

Intellectual Property Statement

The SNAC Cooperative (archival description) data are made available under a CC0 license (Creative Commons license with no use constraints). This policy aligns the Cooperative with the government and academic trend towards making information available for use without restrictions. By signing this agreement, the member grants permission to the Cooperative to make all data contributed by the member available under the CC0 license.

The Cooperative releases all software and programs developed as open source using GitHub.  Given that some of the software and programs are built on or employ open-source software components not developed in the project, third-party open source software will be released according to its specific license. 

Membership Fees

There are currently no membership fees.

In order to be sustainable without regular grant funding, the Cooperative at some point will need to transition to fee-based membership. At the time of this transition, all SNAC members will have the option of continuing or discontinuing membership. 

If your institution or project is interested in becoming a member, contact