Email Archiving

Email archiving graphic image


Email Archiving at Harvard Library

Harvard Library is an active participant in the burgeoning email archiving community.

Upcoming Work: EAS Open Source

Harvard Library is pleased to announce that we began an open source project for EAS in 2017. EAS – Harvard’s Electronic Archiving System – was released in May 2015 to provide the initial set of development partners at Harvard with a means to process email and attachments according to archival practices and then, to automatically deposit them into our preservation repository.

The objective of the open source project is to enable Harvard archivists and the broader cultural resource heritage community to work interoperability with multiple tools and to be able to contribute to ongoing development for the common good. Harvard Library is a partner on Stanford University’s IMLS-funded grant to develop the ePADD email archiving tool – one of the tools that might contribute to the complete stewardship lifecycle for email.

More information about this exciting new effort will be forthcoming. Look here for future updates.

Recent Activities and Community Participation

  • Presentations with members of the Task Force on Technical Approaches for Email Archives at SAA and iPRES in 2018
  • Membership on the Executive Committee of the Mellon Foundation and Digital Preservation Coalition sponsored Task Force on Technical Approaches for Email Archives – see CLIR report, below (published 2018)
  • Participating in the CoSA-NHPRC Email Symposium (September 2017) 
  • Sponsoring an Email Archiving Stewardship Workshop – see the report, article, and presentation, below (March 2016)
  • Participating in Stanford University’s IMLS grant project to develop ePADD – by conducting testing, providing feedback, and assisting with prioritization of new features and functionality (November 2015 – October 2018)
  • Attending the Archiving Email Symposium co-hosted by the Library of Congress and the National Archives and Records Administration (June 2015)
  • Participating in an NDSA Standards & Practices Working Group Email Interest Group, including a series of demonstrations of email archiving tools (2014 and 2015)

Harvard's Electronic Archiving System (EAS)

EAS manages and preserves email collections by enabling archival processing of email messages and attachments and automating the process of making deposits to Harvard's preservation repository.  EAS is now available for use by the core group of curators who were involved as development partners during the pilot project.

System Features (May 2015 Release)

EAS integrates with other Harvard Library enterprise systems:

  • EAS works with Wordshack for vocabulary control — so that multiple email addresses and names referring to an individual or institutional unit resolve to the same record.
  • At the click of a mouse, email messages and attachments selected for long term preservation will be deposited to DRS - Harvard's Digital Repository Service.

EAS features include:

  • Normalization to EML -- an open standard for preservation (an extension of IMF RFC 5322) -- for long term preservation.
  • Summary views of the metadata associated with email or attachments within a result set.
  • Batch and item level processing options for archivists.

DRS was updated to interoperate with new EAS features, including:

  • Long term preservation of email and attachments in a secure environment approved for sensitive data.
  • Capture of essential rights management information using PREMIS.
  • Capture of significant events tracking to document deletions of email and attachments and format transformations such as the conversion of the native mail format to EML.

More information about EAS

Project History

In March 2008, an Email Working Group at Harvard submitted a report to the University Library Council (ULC) that identified email as essential to documenting modern life and business including scholarly communications and the operations of the University. Head curators at the University then identified the capture and preservation of email as one of the highest priorities (along with web archiving) for born digital collections.

In January 2009, as a result of the report, the ULC funded an email archiving pilot project to create a pilot system that would handle ingest, archival processing, and long-term preservation in DRS of email content. Public delivery of email collections was intentionally not to be addressed as part of the pilot.

Having launched in May of 2015, EAS is now available for use by the core group of curators who were involved as development partners during the pilot project.
Initially, the project was a partnership between the Harvard University Library Office for Information Systems (OIS) and a number of curatorial partners from Harvard Library units. As the result of an organizational change, the project was moved to the new Harvard Library department of Preservation Services where the partnerships continued with the Harvard University Information Technologies Library Technology Systems (LTS, previously OIS) and continued with the curatorial partners from Harvard Library.

The first curatorial partners joined in 2009:

  • Countway Library at Harvard Medical School
  • Harvard University Archive
  • Schlesinger Library at Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study

Other curatorial partners joined in 2011:

  • Loeb Library at the Graduate School of Design
  • Harvard Art Museums Archives

The curators –composed of archivists, records managers, librarians and technologists – helped define the functional requirements and participated in system testing and feedback for improvements. 

Harvard Library Email Archiving Resources: Reports, Articles, Presentations, etc.