News & Updates

News & Updates

Round Two Award Announcement

The University of Illinois Library is pleased to announce that three new institutions were recommended for funding under the Email Archives: Building Capacity and Community (EA:BCC) program. In the second round of proposals, the University of Maryland, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the 92nd Street Y were among the institutions that received funding. 

The EA:BCC is a multi-year initiative sponsored by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign that brings together, supports, and funds a growing network of institutions and professionals working to develop critical solutions for preserving email. Through two rounds of funding and nearly $650,000 allocated across eight institutions, EA:BCC continues to expand the email archiving network and provide resources and solutions for continuous development.

A brief overview of the programs recommended for funding is provided below, along with updates on the institutions that received funding in the first round available on the Email Archives Newsletter No. 2.

Discovery environments for using email archives: Evaluating user needs with prototype version of EMail CONtextualisation DIScovery Tool (EMCONDIST), University of Maryland($56,949.96)

The University of Maryland will support construction of an online environment in which we will observe “digitally curious” scholars accessing reference email collections using a novel, context-sensitive discovery prototype: EMail CONtextualisation DIScovery Tool (EMCONDIST). These user engagements will occur both online and in-person. In addition to observing these interactions, users will be surveyed about their experiences. These activities will be transcribed, summarized, analyzed, and reported to the relevant user communities and to the email archive community to improve the discovery and accessibility of email archives.

RATOM Functional, Interoperability and Reuse Extensions (RATOM FIRE), University of North Carolina Chapel Hill ($87,716.81)

Focusing on important email-related curation use cases, the University of Carolina Chapel Hill aims to enhance software development through the Review, Appraisal and Triage of Mail (RATOM) project. The output of the software is designed to facilitate a wide range of curation activities, including review for sensitivity, appraisal and response to open records requests. With its suite of powerful tools, the RATOM Functional, Interoperability and Reuse Extensions (RATOM-FIRE) project will allow easier export of email messages as individual (EML) files; capturing more detailed preservation metadata; and expand the public application programming interface (API) of the RATOM software library to facilitate easier integration into other tools. 

Love the Words: Preserving the Email Collection of 92Y’s Unterberg Poetry Center, 92nd Street Y ($100,000.00)

A current count puts the 92Y’s Poetry Center’s email archive at almost 3 million messages. A collaboration between the Poetry Center and the digital-archive team at Stanford University Libraries, this project will apply the ePADD to the assessment and preservation of the email archive with the goal of developing a processing and accessibility model that other cultural centers might learn from and adopt for their own internal and external purposes.

Round One Award Announcement

The University Library has announced the institutions recommended for direct funding through the Email Archives: Building Capacity and Community (EA:BCC) re-grant program. In its first round, the EA:BCC awarded grant funding to five institutions deeply involved in innovative email archiving activity: Harvard University; University of Albany, SUNY; Council of State Archivists, Inc.; Columbia University; and the University of Chicago Library.

Nearly $400,000 was distributed amongst the awardees to illustrate and build capacity for a wide range of archival institutions to process, preserve, and provide access to email using community-supported tools. In addition, the awardees represent the diverse nature of institutions contributing to the advancement of current email archiving practices. The combined effort and outcomes of these projects will make significant progress in the adoption, productivity, and efficacy of email archiving. Included below is a brief description of the five institutions’ programs recommended for funding. 

Integrating Preservation Functionality into ePADD, Harvard University ($100,000.00)

Harvard University will integrate long-term email preservation functionality into ePADD, an open source email archiving software program which already supports archival appraisal, processing, discovery, and delivery. Harvard and its project partners, the University of Manchester and Stanford University, will enhance ePADD’s functionality to provide a tool that more comprehensively and robustly supports the email archiving lifecycle. Supported features of the new product, known as ePADD+, will include local customization and extensibility to accommodate institutions that require alternative preservation packaging. In addition, local deployments at the three partner institutions will validate ePADD+’s broad applicability for diverse institutional needs and act as exemplars for similar deployment in other programmatic contexts across the email archiving community. 

Mailbag: A Stable Package for Email with Multiple Masters, University of Albany, SUNY ($63,890.00)

The M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections & Archives at the University of Albany, SUNY will create Mailbag, a functional specification based on the BagIt specification, in addition to, a software tool to create and manage Mailbags. One key feature of Mailbag is the ability to preserve multiple masters for email archives in a structured and actionable format. This will allow archivists to rapidly capture email and fix it in a stable package for later processing and access. Additionally, the project team will create a Python library and command line utility with a basic Graphic User Interface (GUI) for creating and managing Mailbags that will use web archiving technology to preserve external context and enable archivists to easily acquire email and store it in a stable manner.

CoSA PREPARE: Preparing Archives for Records in Email, Council of State Archivists, Inc. ($100,000.00)

CoSA will develop and deliver capacity-building activities for email preservation and access to state, territorial, and the District of Columbia archives. The program will focus on providing practical solutions for the collection, preservation, and accessibility of email generated by government officials and key legislators through the following activities: needs assessment; development of best practice documents; applications, tools, and protocols testing; and technical assistance and mentoring. These outcomes will foster ongoing learning, information exchange and collaboration to build the capacity for the preservation of governmental records. 

Creating Email Archives from PDFs: The Covid-19 Corpus, Columbia University ($98,630.04)

Columbia University will contribute email archiving solutions on both ends of the email stewardship cycle — acquisition and preservation, on one end, and research access, on the other. The focus will be on government responses to the Covid-19 pandemic that are being released through FOIA requests made available online by journalists. Consequently, researchers are facing a number of challenges accessing these records and cannot easily determine the scope of arrangement of the collections, or find descriptions of the contents of the main components. To combat these challenges Columbia will build an open-source tool and associated library that takes email embedded in PDFs as input and generates an MBOX file as output, thereby making these records compatible with existing email archiving solutions. In addition, the project team will process a large corpus of FOIAed records on Covid-19 to enhance its value to researchers and to develop it into a new collection as part of the Freedom of Information Archive (FOIArchive), an aggregated database of government records. 

Attachment Converter: Preserving the Context of Electronic Correspondence, University of Chicago Library ($40230.00)

The University of Chicago Library will build the Attachment Converter, software that will take command-line conversion tools and use them to batch-convert attachments in an email collection into recommended formats for digital preservation. The software will efficiently preserve and contextualize email attachments, which are often significant documents in a large range of proprietary and obsolete formats. This effort will increase the capacity of The Hanna Holborn Gray Special Collections Research Center of the University of Chicago Library to collect correspondence in all forms and contribute to its mission of documenting University activities and supporting teaching and learning on campus.  The project team plans to collaborate with colleagues from other institutions to ensure that the Attachment Converter will accommodate a broad range of documents and archival workflows. The Attachment Converter will be made freely available to the archival community.

Call for Proposals Round 2

We are happy to announce a call for proposals for the second round of funding for The Email Archives: Building Capacity and Community (EA:BCC) program. The EA:BCC is led by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, this program invites proposals that foster the ability of archives, libraries, and museums to preserve email records.  

Here are a few important facts about the program:

  • The EA:BCC is generously sponsored by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
  • The second round of proposals is due June 30th
  • Projects may begin as early as January 1, 2022.
  • All projects must be completed by December 30, 2023
  • Proposed projects must support the regrant program’s overall goals while seeking to build the email archiving community.
  • Funding Ideas 
    • Low Barrier Email Archiving – Develop or refer to use-cases from “A Specification for Using PDF to package and represent email“.
    • Tools to harvest linked content – Integrate a web archiving tool to capture linked content
    • Projects focusing on local government emails and non-governmental organizations
    • Community email archiving – Partnerships between archives and community groups, or those leading social change, to capture email archives and develop a framework for ethical practice in email archiving.
    • Any other ideas you might bring to the table!
  • Collaborative partnerships and projects are particularly encouraged.
  • A peer advisory board will vet proposals. 
  • Funding needs of $25,000 to $100,000 USD are eligible for support.
  • Pre-submission feedback is available! 

We will be hosting a webinar on April 26, 2021, from 2:00 – 3:00 (CT)–at which point we will also announce and honor the five institutions that have been awarded grants in the first round. We will also provide more details about the program and how to apply! You can register for the upcoming webinar at this link,

Call for Proposals

We’d like to draw your attention to an exciting funding opportunity: The Email Archives: Building Capacity and Community Program (EA:BCC). The Email Archives Newsletter provides a helpful overview on the program and projects we anticipate supporting.

Here are a few important facts about the program:

  • The EA:BCC program is supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
  • Two rounds of funding will be made available, with the first set of proposals due July 31.
  • Projects may begin as early as January 1, 2021.
  • Proposed projects must support the overall goals of the regrant program while seeking to build the email archiving community.
  • Collaborative partnerships and projects are particularly encouraged.
  • Proposals will be vetted by a peer advisory board.
  • Funding needs of $25,000 to $100,000 USD are eligible for support.
  • Completion of the submission form is required.

The project team at the University of Illinois would be happy to discuss potential projects prior to submission. More details will be provided in Zoom meetings scheduled for Tuesday, May 12, 2020 at 11:00 AM (CT) and Wednesday, May 20, 2020 at 9:00 AM (CT). The same content will be covered at both sessions, please register here. In addition, feel free to comment any questions or information you would like us to discuss in further detail in these meetings.

Grant Announcement

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded an $857,027 grant to the Library at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to develop the ability to preserve email for future research use.

The four-year grant will support “Email Archives: Building Capacity and Community,” a program that will build the capacity for archives, libraries, and museums to collect and better preserve email as part of the historical record and in their research collections.

The program will solicit grant applications to fund projects of $25,000 to no more than $100,000 to be evaluated by a panel of experts, including humanities scholars, archivists, and digital preservation experts. All grantees of the program will share their knowledge back to their communities, to the profession as a whole, and to the public.

“Email preservation is a matter of intense public interest and speaks to the functions of public trust that archives and libraries uphold,” said Principal Investigator Chris Prom.

The official press release can be found at