Records in Contexts (RiC): a standard for archival description developed by the ICA Experts Group on Archival Description



Date Added:

8 September 2016


Chair: Daniel PITTI (USA)


The standard has two parts: a conceptual model (RiC-CM) and an ontology (RiC-O).  In its work the EGAD is building on more than twenty years of successful standards development by the ICA, as well as national or project-based modeling work in the archival community alongside that of allied professional communities. The EGAD is also informed by established and emerging communication technologies, particularly semantic technologies that are more expressive than the more established markup and database technologies, and are increasingly used to interconnect description in disparate descriptive systems to provide integrated access to resources across cultural heritage domains. The four existing ICA standards (ISAD(G), ISAAR, ISDF, and ISDIAH) are intended to work in relation to one another to form a complete model for archival description. They were developed in succession over a twenty-year period, by different experts with new and emerging understandings of archival description, and against a backdrop of rapidly developing communication technologies that offered an expanding range of opportunities as well as the challenge of electronic records. It is thus no surprise that the standards are not consistent and complete in describing how they are to be used together.  It is within this context that the EGAD is developing RiC, reconciling and integrating the four existing standards, reorienting them to take advantage of developments in communication technologies, and recognizing that the challenge of describing and managing electronic records requires that archival description be more closely aligned with the management of records in their context of origin and use, while at the same time accommodating traditional archival materials and the existing predominant method of archival description, fonds-based multilevel description. RiC-CM will resemble the existing four standards, defining the major archival descriptive entities and their properties, and the interrelations among them. RiC-O will be expressed as a W3C OWL (Ontology Web Language), and will have as its primary focus enabling archival description to be expressed in semantic technologies. In this presentation, three members of the EGAD will provide background and an overview of both RiC-CM and RiC-O.

Introduction to ICA-Records in Contexts

General Presentation by Daniel Pitti

Daniel PITTI, University of Virginia, USA

Daniel Pitti is Chair of the ICA Expert Group on Archival Description (EGAD). Pitti is Associate Director of the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities at the University of Virginia. From 1993-2010, Pitti served as the chief technical architect of Encoded Archival Description (EAD, a standard for encoding archival guides, and Encoded Archival Context-Corporate Bodies, Persons, and Families (EAC-CPF), a standard for encoding archival identity descriptions. He currently serves on the SAA Technical Subcommittee for Encoded Archival Standards. Pitti is project director of Social Networks and Archival Context (SNAC) Cooperative, a new international cooperative hosted by the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration. At IATH, Pitti collaborates with fellows and other faculty in humanities research projects that employ innovative research employing computational and network methods. Among the many humanities projects are the William Blake Archive; the Walt Whitman Archive; Leonardo's Treatise on Painting; Arapesh Grammar and Digital Language Archive; and Collective Biographies of Women.

Presentation of the Conceptual Model by Bill Stockting

Bill STOCKTING, United Kingdom

Bill Stockting is an acknowledged expert on archival processing, description, and its digital automation. At the UK National Archives, he was a member of the team that developed the first online catalogue system (PROCAT) and operationally managed the ground breaking Access to Archives (A2A) Programme. At the British Library, he led the development of the Integrated Archives and Manuscripts System (IAMS) which has provided single cataloguing and access environments for the Library's archive and manuscript collections for the first time. Bill was also responsible for the processing of all Special Collections at the Library. He is a former chair of the then Society of Archivists' Data Exchange Group and has trained fellow professionals in description standards, automation and access in the UK, Ireland and across Europe. Bill is a member of the Society of American Archivists' Technical Sub-committee on Encoded Archival Standards (EAS) and of the International Council on Archives' (ICA) Expert Group on Archival Description, which is developing a conceptual data model for the archives domain – Records in Context.

Presentation of the Ontology by Florence Clavaud

Florence CLAVAUD, Archives nationales, France

Archiviste-paléographe, conservateur en chef du patrimoine. Successivement responsable du service de reproduction des documents puis du service des nouvelles technologies aux Archives nationales (centre parisien) de 1990 à 2004, puis consultante (salariée d'une petite société privée) de 2004 à 2007, responsable pédagogique du Master 2 « Technologies numériques appliquées à l’histoire » et responsable de projets d’humanités numériques à l’École nationale des chartes de 2007 à 2013. Aujourd’hui responsable des référentiels documentaires (vocabulaires et référentiel des producteurs) aux Archives nationales. Également membre de l’équipe de recherche de l’École nationale des chartes, responsable de plusieurs projets numériques centrés sur l’édition critique numérique de textes. Membre de plusieurs groupes de travail nationaux et internationaux, en particulier membre du groupe d’experts EGAD du CIA sur la description archivistique (responsable de la réalisation de l’ontologie). Membre de l'Association des archivistes français, du Consortium TEI et de l’association francophone Humanistica.
Florence Clavaud is an archivist, chief curator, Authority records and vocabularies project leader at the Archives nationales de France (ANF) since 2013. She was in charge of Records Reproduction service then of Information Technologies service at the ANF (Parisian centre) from 1990 to 2004, then a consultant within a small private company from 2004 to 2007. From 2007 to 2013 she was the main lecturer and the person in charge of the second year of the master’s degree « history and new technologies » at the École nationale des chartes. Apart from her main function at the ANF, she is now a member of the research team of the École nationale des chartes (see, actively involved in several digital humanities projects including scholarly editions, responsible for their digital features (see for instance and She is a member of several national standardisation groups. She is also a member of SAA Technical Subcommittee on Encoded Archival Standards, and an executive member of ICA Expert Group on Archival Description (EGAD) of ICA, responsible of the ontology ; and a member of the TEI Consortium and of the Francophone Humanistica association.