The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Digital Preservation Coalition announced the formation of a Task Force on Technical Approaches for Email Archives. The task force is charged with assessing current frameworks, tools, and approaches being taken toward these critical historical sources. Christopher Prom, assistant university archivist/Andrew S. G. Turyn Endowed Professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Kate Murray, IT specialist in the Technology Policy Directorate at the Library of Congress, will serve as cochairs of the task force.
Personal correspondence has long served as an essential primary source for historians and scholars across many humanities and social science disciplines. Archives of correspondence articulate authors’ lived experiences. They help future generations understand and learn from history, providing evidence of the functions and activities of governments, businesses, nonprofit organizations, families, and individuals. But today, much of that correspondence is embodied by digital materials, and particularly emails, which have proven themselves far more difficult to gather and preserve in an accessible, approachable format.