Harvard Library's Email Archiving System (EAS)

Harvard's Email Archiving System (EAS)

EAS facilitates archival processing of email messages and attachments and automating the process of preservation packaging email collections and depositing them to Harvard's preservation repository.  EAS is available for use by Harvard Library curatorial units. For information on how to begin using EAS or for technical supports, please visit the internal EAS wiki.

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. 

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.