[Archivesspace_Users_Group] how to encode open-ended date ranges?

James E. Cross jcross at clemson.edu
Thu Oct 13 10:56:01 EDT 2022

Another thought: use single date in both cases and let the “Date Expression” field indicate that it is open-ended, i.e. single date “1990,” date expression “1990 - ” or single date “1990,” date expression “1990 (end date)” The date expression is what the user will see in the PUI.


James Cross
Manuscripts Archivist
Special Collections and Archives
Clemson University

Strom Thurmond Institute Building
230 Kappa Street
Clemson, SC  29634
jcross at clemson.edu<mailto:jcross at clemson.edu>

From: archivesspace_users_group-bounces at lyralists.lyrasis.org <archivesspace_users_group-bounces at lyralists.lyrasis.org> On Behalf Of Ron Van den Branden
Sent: Thursday, October 13, 2022 10:32 AM
To: archivesspace_users_group at lyralists.lyrasis.org
Subject: [Archivesspace_Users_Group] how to encode open-ended date ranges?


We’re in the process of migrating data to ArchivesSpace, and one thing I’m still struggling with is how to encode open-ended date ranges, using standardized dates only. In other words: how to express:

  *   the fact that only a start date is known
  *   or the fact that only an end date is known
…while still indicating this known date is the start / end of a range whose other end is not known; as opposite to expressing a precise singular/punctual date.

Given the fact that ArchivesSpace currently uses 2 distinct date models for accessions, resources/archival objects and digital objects vs agents (see https://www.mail-archive.com/archivesspace_users_group@lyralists.lyrasis.org/msg05341.html<https://urldefense.com/v3/__https:/www.mail-archive.com/archivesspace_users_group@lyralists.lyrasis.org/msg05341.html__;!!PTd7Sdtyuw!QEv9HwNAtu0O8yQ0ApRp7X3OLav3cGzG6U8Z3ZWXiSBU2UtBSlOPNIlB0iboNUhLSJYzbb8_xbHNbELs8h37VQInUry3C2sr$>), I’ll outline the observations and options I’m seeing.

[1] Accessions, resources, archival objects, digital objects:

  *   “Single” date only offers a single date field, labeled “Begin”
  *   “Inclusive” date offers both a “Begin” and “End” date field, only one of which is required
Would this be a good strategy:

  *   “singular/punctual” dates: “single” date, one value as “Begin” date
  *   date range: “inclusive” date, start and end dates as “Begin” and “End” dates, respectively
  *   open-ended date range: “inclusive” date, with known date as either “Begin” or “End” date
This leads me to the question whether in practice “single” dates are used at all for anything except accession dates, creation dates of digital objects, or as dates for only the lowest-level archival objects?

[2] Agents:

  *   “Single” date only offers a single date field, which can be labeled as either “Begin” or “End”
  *   “Inclusive” date offers both a “Begin” and “End” date field, of which “Begin” is mandatory
Would this be a good strategy:

  *   “singular/punctual” dates: “single” date, one value as either “Begin” or “End” date

Note: in EAC output, the begin/end qualification is dismissed: both are exported without distinction as e.g.
<date localType="existence" standardDate="2022-10-08">2022-10-08</date>

  *   date range: “inclusive” date, start and end dates as “Begin” and “End” dates, respectively

  *   open-ended date range: ?
==> problem if only end date is known, since begin date is mandatory
In other words: how would one differentiate between, e.g.:

  *   birth date of a living person (1990 - )
  *   birth date of a deceased person, whose death date is unknown (1800 - ?)
  *   death date of a person whose birth date is unknown (? - 1950)

The documentation in the ArchivesSpace Help Center merely documents the different fields, but I couldn’t find much guidance on how to use them in practice. The DACS, EAD, and EAC documentation is rather sparse as well regarding open-ended date ranges. Therefore, any guidance on this matter would be much appreciated!



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