[Archivesspace_Users_Group] normalized begin/end date display in PUI

Benn Joseph benn.joseph at northwestern.edu
Fri Apr 16 14:02:11 EDT 2021

Hi everyone,
Thanks for your feedback! I did create and submit a new feature request for changing to more human-readable dates in the PUI (basically just replacing the month in ISO 8601 with the spelled out English equivalent), which is now ANW-1273<https://archivesspace.atlassian.net/browse/ANW-1273>.

Mark, thanks for this background info—I’m also going to submit a linked request for compressing the date displays in the way you describe, which is a great idea but seems like it might need a separate ticket. Maybe a third step would be a customizable display as Dan mentions below.

Kevin, what you’re describing is exactly what brought this up for us initially. I had proposed to folks here that maybe one way to get good human-readable dates in the PUI would be to enter them (consistently) as date expressions and then have Timewalk or Timetwister normalize them for us. But that seemed to be living a bit on the edge, and as a member of the team described it: “we shouldn’t be entering bad data on purpose and hoping that ASpace will magically fix it for us”. I like to think I received a lot of tough love that day 😊


From: archivesspace_users_group-bounces at lyralists.lyrasis.org <archivesspace_users_group-bounces at lyralists.lyrasis.org> On Behalf Of Clair, Kevin
Sent: Wednesday, April 14, 2021 10:58 AM
To: Archivesspace Users Group <archivesspace_users_group at lyralists.lyrasis.org>
Subject: Re: [Archivesspace_Users_Group] normalized begin/end date display in PUI


+1 to all of this. Our current use case seems to go the other way -- at Penn State the tendency is to have processing archivists provide human-readable date expressions, and that we would like to generate machine-readable begin and end dates based on that.

I'm wondering how uncertain dates would figure into this. In both of the ArchivesSpace instances I'm familiar with there are a lot of "circa"s and "approximately"s, with varying ideas on how to encode them as begin and end dates.

thanks!  -k
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 Custer, Mark <mark.custer at yale.edu<mailto:mark.custer at yale.edu>>
Sent: Wednesday, April 14, 2021 10:01 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] normalized begin/end date display in PUI


Yes, this is a great feature request!

It was discussed as part of the PUI enhancement phase for 2.1, but never got added due to the additional work required (e.g., month names would also need to be added to the YML files for translation purposes).  It was also hoped that there might already be an adoptable codebase that would handle the logic of taking ISO-8601 (and, eventually, EDTF dates, which I think are now somewhat part of the newest release of ISO-8601) and transform those to human-readable values so that this would not have to be created from scratch for ArchivesSpace (maybe https://github.com/duke-libraries/edtf-humanize<https://urldefense.com/v3/__https:/nam10.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https*3A*2F*2Fgithub.com*2Fduke-libraries*2Fedtf-humanize&data=04*7C01*7Ckmc35*40psu.edu*7Cb55e1f010f9447f0577b08d8ff4dcec6*7C7cf48d453ddb4389a9c1c115526eb52e*7C0*7C0*7C637540056959006870*7CUnknown*7CTWFpbGZsb3d8eyJWIjoiMC4wLjAwMDAiLCJQIjoiV2luMzIiLCJBTiI6Ik1haWwiLCJXVCI6Mn0*3D*7C1000&sdata=VmJoTsOdvmcTh8hEJ3TV2bmlkn2hiQjvT7Yyv6wmXS4*3D&reserved=0__;JSUlJSUlJSUlJSUlJSUlJSUl!!Dq0X2DkFhyF93HkjWTBQKhk!Fkq1I6E7XyinQKdUlen_4U4aO06pHrKfTJlMjvezF7IEWVXc05m_BOif_eFzWKKLXuLtj4Qc$> fits the bill now... at least it already has translation values, e.g. https://github.com/duke-libraries/edtf-humanize/blob/develop/config/locales/fr.edtf.yml#L6<https://urldefense.com/v3/__https:/nam10.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https*3A*2F*2Fgithub.com*2Fduke-libraries*2Fedtf-humanize*2Fblob*2Fdevelop*2Fconfig*2Flocales*2Ffr.edtf.yml*23L6&data=04*7C01*7Ckmc35*40psu.edu*7Cb55e1f010f9447f0577b08d8ff4dcec6*7C7cf48d453ddb4389a9c1c115526eb52e*7C0*7C0*7C637540056959016861*7CUnknown*7CTWFpbGZsb3d8eyJWIjoiMC4wLjAwMDAiLCJQIjoiV2luMzIiLCJBTiI6Ik1haWwiLCJXVCI6Mn0*3D*7C1000&sdata=vStOxOH7hU*2FBaCG*2FbO37UOogXkSLF2l*2B05f7if1obfg*3D&reserved=0__;JSUlJSUlJSUlJSUlJSUlJSUlJSUlJSUlJSUl!!Dq0X2DkFhyF93HkjWTBQKhk!Fkq1I6E7XyinQKdUlen_4U4aO06pHrKfTJlMjvezF7IEWVXc05m_BOif_eFzWKKLXreZ1EKB$>).

Also, in the example that you provided below, the ideal English language output might be something like:  "1935 March 19-23", without repeating the year and month values. So, the auto-populated date displays should also be compressed when necessary.


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 Dan Michelson <dmichelson at smith.edu<mailto:dmichelson at smith.edu>>
Sent: Wednesday, April 14, 2021 6:21 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] normalized begin/end date display in PUI

Hi Benn,

I think that's a great idea!  Ideally, we'd have a way for the format to be customizable (e.g., day month year for European institutions, month day, year for US institutions), but removing the ambiguity is more important.


On Tue, Apr 13, 2021 at 5:38 PM Benn Joseph <benn.joseph at northwestern.edu<mailto:benn.joseph at northwestern.edu>> wrote:

Hi everyone,

For processing projects at our institution, we’ve pretty much reached the point of normalizing the use of the Harvard spreadsheet ingest module in ASpace, which is great! One result of doing this is that we now favor ingesting normalized begin/end dates almost exclusively, if possible, in order to make searching dates easier in the ASpace PUI (meaning we typically do not include a date expression unless it’s something that cannot be conveyed in the begin/end fields).

But, is anyone else bugged by the way these dates display in the PUI? Here’s an example from something we have currently in process:

[cid:image002.jpg at 01D732C0.B60CC9C0]

It isn’t terrible, but it’s also not the easiest to read. In addition, DACS seems to discourage the use of ISO 8601 for the end user:

2.4.14. For descriptions of a single item, record exact dates in a consistent and unambiguous fashion, preferably expressed as year-month-day, i.e. 1906 March 17 (it also says “Expression of dates as all numerals is discouraged due to the differing conventions in the order of information”, and what we have here is all numerals).

We could certainly add a more human-readable date expression to each of these archival objects, but the sentiment here is that if we have good data, ASpace should be able to take ‘1935-03-19’ and display ‘1935 March 19’ (or whatever we like) to a user pretty easily without us having to do any extra work. But, before I file an enhancement request, what do others think about this?



Benn Joseph

Head, Collections Services

McCormick Library of Special Collections & University Archives

Northwestern University Libraries

Northwestern University


benn.joseph at northwestern.edu<mailto:benn.joseph at northwestern.edu%0d>


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Dan Michelson
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Smith College Special Collections

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