[Archivesspace_Users_Group] Agent/Subject record merging in multi-repository setting

Karen Miller k-miller3 at northwestern.edu
Mon Sep 28 15:42:36 EDT 2020

Yes, good point about retaining the Biographical/Historical notes and other information!

We had a lot of duplicates because we migrated from Archon, where is a person was both a creator and a subject, their name was entered twice in Archon. But since the subjects that were names were identified as names, they ended up as Agent records in ArchivesSpace. There was only room for a BiogHist note in the Archon Creator record, so at least we didn’t have duplicates of those, but we did have to be very careful not to “victimize” those records when we merged.


From: archivesspace_users_group-bounces at lyralists.lyrasis.org <archivesspace_users_group-bounces at lyralists.lyrasis.org> On Behalf Of Custer, Mark
Sent: Monday, September 28, 2020 10:41 AM
To: Archivesspace Users Group <archivesspace_users_group at lyralists.lyrasis.org>
Subject: Re: [Archivesspace_Users_Group] Agent/Subject record merging in multi-repository setting


Exactly what Karen and Dan said!

I would caution you not to rely exclusively on the staff interface to do this work when working in a multi-repository ASpace installation, though. When we did a similar project, we exported all of the data to external spreadsheets to make the comparisons.  For just one of many examples, we had agent records for “Milhaud, Darius” and “Milhaud, Darius, 1892-1974”.  The first agent was linked to 10 archival objects in 1 repositories;  the second agents was linked to 2 Resources in 1 repository, and 8 Resources in a different repository, as well as more archival objects in another repository.  You don’t get a sense of that in the staff interface, though, since when you’re working in the staff interface you’re always scoped to a single repository at a time.  So, before we could merge those two records with confidence, we had to check out the links in the different repositories to make sure it was indeed the same person.  In this case it was the same person; in other cases it wasn’t.

Also, ASpace is great with preserving linked records whenever you do a merge, but be aware that it just deletes the data from the “victim” record during a merge (the API language introduces the terms “target” and “victim” for the merge process).  This behavior is similar to merging Resource records, for instance – all of the Resource data from the ‘victim’ resource is deleted, but the liked archival objects are transferred exactly as is from ‘victim’ to ‘target’.  So, if you have any contact details, bioghist notes, etc., on a “victim” agent that you want to preserve, then you’ll need to move those over to the “target” yourself either before or after the merge.  We usually didn’t have to worry about this since we did our merge project before we started our project to add bioghist notes to agents (having a bioghist notes directly on each Agent record is a HUGE help, since then you can add context that everyone can see in the staff interface!!!), but we did have to re-add some contact info details for a few agents after our merge process.


From: archivesspace_users_group-bounces at lyralists.lyrasis.org<mailto:archivesspace_users_group-bounces at lyralists.lyrasis.org> [mailto:archivesspace_users_group-bounces at lyralists.lyrasis.org] On Behalf Of Karen Miller
Sent: Monday, 28 September, 2020 10:52 AM
To: Archivesspace Users Group <archivesspace_users_group at lyralists.lyrasis.org<mailto:archivesspace_users_group at lyralists.lyrasis.org>>
Subject: Re: [Archivesspace_Users_Group] Agent/Subject record merging in multi-repository setting

Hello Betts et al,

At Northwestern University we have also merged quite a few duplicate Subjects and Agents that were used by multiple repositories. The merged records do indeed retain all of the links to Resource and Accession records that were previously linked to the separate Subject and Agent records. We tested this in our sandbox repository before trying it in the production server.


Karen D. Miller
Monographic Cataloger/Metadata Specialist
Northwestern University Libraries
Northwestern University
1970 Campus Drive
Evanston, IL 60208
k-miller3 at northwestern.edu<mailto:k-miller3 at northwestern.edu>

From: archivesspace_users_group-bounces at lyralists.lyrasis.org<mailto:archivesspace_users_group-bounces at lyralists.lyrasis.org> <archivesspace_users_group-bounces at lyralists.lyrasis.org<mailto:archivesspace_users_group-bounces at lyralists.lyrasis.org>> On Behalf Of Daniel Michelson
Sent: Monday, September 28, 2020 9:20 AM
To: Archivesspace Users Group <archivesspace_users_group at lyralists.lyrasis.org<mailto:archivesspace_users_group at lyralists.lyrasis.org>>
Subject: Re: [Archivesspace_Users_Group] Agent/Subject record merging in multi-repository setting

Hi Betty,

Agents and subjects are not specific to repositories, so it shouldn't matter whether it is linked to records in multiple repositories.  We have not encountered any problems relating to multiple repositories when merging agents or subjects.

All the best,


On Mon, Sep 28, 2020 at 10:10 AM Coup, Betts <elizabeth_coup at harvard.edu<mailto:elizabeth_coup at harvard.edu>> wrote:
Greetings all,

The ArchivesSpace Subject and Agent Taskforce at Harvard Library is working to develop best practices for subject and agent record creation, editing, and merging, and we're wondering if anyone might have experience with merging agent and subject records in a multi-repository setting in ArchivesSpace? We're currently exploring potential data clean-up options but are concerned about what happens when agent records linked to multiple different repositories' resource records are merged (and likewise for subject records and resource records). Do all the resource records remain linked to the merged, single agent record (or subject record)? How were you able to ensure no links were lost to other repositories' resource records?

If other institutions are in a similar multi-repository situation and completed merging successfully, would you mind sharing your workflows or processes and how you ensured there weren't links lost between agents/subjects and resource records?

Many thanks in advance for your time and help!

Betts Coup
Paula Aloisio
Julianna Kuipers
Amber LaFountain
Subject and Agent Taskforce

Betts Coup (she/hers)
Processing Archivist
Houghton Library
elizabeth_coup at harvard.edu<mailto:elizabeth_coup at harvard.edu>
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Dan Michelson
Project Manager Archivist
Smith College Special Collections

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