Digital Playground March 29, 2019: Historic Halls Project main content.

Digital Playground March 29, 2019: Historic Halls Project

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Library News

Project Background: Finding Aids for AMNH Permanent Hall Photographic Images

Managed by Stacy Schiff, Visual Resources Librarian and cataloged by the Project Archivist, Clare O'Dowd, the Finding Aids for AMNH Permanent Hall Photographic Images project resulted in over 3,000 cataloged images, which were made accessible through the Historic Halls Collection (powered by Omeka). The authority terms developed for the project, derived from a variety of Library sources dating from the Museum’s founding through today, were incorporated into the cataloging interface making selection and assignment by the image catalogers consistent and efficient.

Historic Halls Collection
Screen capture of the Historic Halls Collection powered by Omeka.

The Library is at the forefront of institutions employing the Encoding Archival Context -- Corporate Bodies, Persons and Families (EAC-CPF) standard. Complementing the finding aid description standard, Encoded Archival Description (EAD), EAC-CPF supports contextual descriptions of archives creators, providing structured metadata for discrete sets of information, most notably Related Corporate, Personal, and Family Names. From February 2017 to August 2017, the Project Archivist published 118 descriptions of the Museum's Permanent Halls from the opening of the first building in 1877 to the present day. The Project Archivist worked with the Metadata Analyst to encode the descriptions in the Library's entity database xEAC

AMNH xEAC homepage graphic.
AMNH xEAC homepage graphic.

The Library contextual descriptions, a.k.a. archives authority records, were researched extensively using historic and current Museum material such as Annual Reports, Museum Guides, and floor plans. All sources are documented to provide researchers with additional means to easily find related information on each hall as well as links back to the image collection for intuitive and helpful searching between the Library's databases. Users may navigate both historical notes and the image collection to create context throughout time while reviewing both the data and the visual record for a dynamic research experience.

Technical Information

Omeka Classic

Omeka Classic is a web publishing platform for sharing digital collections and creating media-rich online exhibits. Omeka adheres to Dublin Core metadata standards making it easy to cross-walk to other metadata schemas and to open collections to data aggregators like DPLA (Digital Public Library of America) to harvest via the OAI-PMH Protocol. Users also have the ability to add custom metadata fields to extend the Dublin Core element set. The interface makes it easy to launch online exhibits without coding experience and there are a multitude of plugins available making Omeka a flexible and extensible tool. Omeka 2.1 and above include an API (application programming interface) that gives site administrators the opportunity to make their item, collection, tags, and exhibit data visible and usable by outside applications.

System Requirements (LAMP)

  • Linux operating system
  • Apache HTTP server (with mod_rewrite enabled)
  • MySQL version 5.0 or greater
  • PHP scripting language version 5.3.2 or greater (with mysqli and exif extensions installed)
  • ImageMagick image manipulation software (for resizing images)



xEAC is an open-source XForms-based application for creating and managing EAC-CPF (Encoded Archival Context - Corporate bodies, Persons and Families) collections developed by Ethan Gruber, the Director of Data Science at the American Numismatic Society. "EAC-CPF is an XML standard for encoding information about the creators of archival materials -- i.e., a corporate body, person or family -- including their relationships to (a) resources (books, collections, papers, etc.) and (b) other corporate bodies, persons and families. The goal is to provide contextual information regarding the circumstances of record creation and use. EAC-CPF can be used in conjunction with Encoded Archival Description (EAD) for enhancement of EAD's capabilities in encoding finding aids, but can also be used in conjunction with other standards or for standalone authority file encoding" (Wikipedia accessed 2019-03-28).

The XForms backend allows editing of the XML documents in a web form, allowing for relationships between source and target entities to be maintained automatically. That is to say, when a CPF relation is added into the source document which points to another entity within the same system, the target document is updated to insert a CPF relation back to the source. These CPF relations are controlled by an ontology manager which handles reciprocal relationships: enabling the user to designate childOf as the inverse of parentOf. The xEAC editing interface interacts with a variety of REST APIs to enhance authority control and context within the record through SNACDBPediaVIAFGetty AATGetty TGNGeonames, the Pleiades Gazetteer of Ancient Places, and the LC Name Authority File for geographic places. 

Public Interface

  • Simple search and faceted search
  • Data Exports: EAC-CPF, TEI, RDF/XML, Turtle, JSON-LD
  • Content negotiation supports the following types: text/html, application/xml, application/tei+xml,application/, application/rdf+xml, application/json, text/turtle
  • Social network graph visualizations on the entity level
American Numismatic Society social network
American Numismatic Society authority social network graph.
  • **KML generated by places which link to Geonames and Pleiades URIs, and in conjunction with standard dates, the interface enables the generation of maps and timelines through the Timemap Javascript library
Numismatic kml example
Example of using kml data in an archival record for Agnes Baldwin Brett papers, 1900 - 1959, Archer Archives

**"KML (Keyhole Markup Language) is an XML notation for expressing geographic annotation and visualization within Internet-based, two-dimensional maps and three-dimensional Earth browsers. KML was developed for use with Google Earth, which was originally named Keyhole Earth Viewer" (Wikipedia accessed 2019-03-28).


xEAC is comprised of three server-side application which run in Apache Tomcat: Orbeon (XForms processor), Solr (search index used for publication), and eXist (XML database). XForms submissions allow these three applications to communicate through REST.

Installation and Use

xEAC Installation and Usage Guide

xEAC Documentation