/ NAD: background and features

The National Archival Database of Sweden (NAD)

Background and technical information

NAD and Archival Standards

NAD is based on international archival standards:

The NAD pages contain rules and guidelines for the application of these international standards with regard to Swedish descriptive traditions. The rules for creating records for persons and corporate bodies have been developed in cooperation with the National Library. XML schemas have been developed which define the subsets of EAC and EAC which are supported by the system and control the use of Swedish archival terms (xml.ra.se/EAC/).

The platform of NAD is the archival information system of the Swedish national and regional archives: Arkis . The system is designed with a separate authority file for corporate bodies and persons with relations to the archival units. The system supports export and import of EAC and EAD records. NAD has primarily the function of a national authority file of archival creators. These authority records contain links to archival descriptions that are stored either in the central system Arkis or in local web pages or in other archival networks, such as Ediffah of the Swedish research libraries.

The National Register of Private Archives

The development of a national register of private archives started as an initiative by a librarian at the Uppsala University Library, Otto Walde (1879-1963). He collected any information he could get hold of where papers of well-known Swedes were kept. All information was gathered in a hand written slip-catalogue. Each slip consists of the name, short biographical notes, and references to archives, manuscript collections or private persons. It finally comprised references for more then 20000 individuals from the 16th century to the 1950s. This catalogue contains references which still are very useful for researchers. The basic information from the catalogue has therefore been entered in a database and the entire catalogue is digitalized.

In the 1960s, this work was continued by a special unit in the National Archives, but with focus on gathering information on private organizations. In order to maintain this information a database (REA) was created, that has been at use since 1987.

The function of the national registry of private archives is now limited to gathering information on collections in private custody. There are now projects working for the integration of both Walde’s catalogue and REA in NAD, which are expected to be concluded in 2007.

For the creation of the database REA, a lot of work was done to develop guidelines and controlled vocabularies. The records in the database were based on the names of individuals and organizations as main entries. Controlled vocabularies were developed for access points such as functions and geographic names.

In 1990 the National Archives began the development of a national archival registry. The strategy was from the beginning to integrate information on public records and private papers in the same data base. In the 1990s a National Archival Database was created by collecting archival descriptions from different sources, such as REA and the registries of the national and regional archives. This data was converted to a text database and published on CD-ROM (1993-1998). Since then the goal has been to publish NAD on the Internet on the same platform as the archival system of the National Archives.

The Archival Information System for the National and Regional Archives of Sweden (Arkis)

Arkis has been in use since 1993. It implements a data model, in which information on creators (corporate bodies, persons and families) is separated from the descriptions of records in many-to-many relations. The present system, Arkis 2 since 2000, is based on a relational database (MS SQL Server) with Web interfaces for registration as well as for retrieval. The module for archival description is compatible with ISAD(G), and has full support for multi-level description. The system is built to support all aspects of archival management within the organization, such as

Within the National Archives and its branches there is currently a production of more than 40 000 images per day. Most of them are parish registers and other records of interest for genealogical research. This huge digitalization project was primarily a result of the abolition of the state church, which previously had been responsible for all civil registration. When these large amounts of records were transferred to the regional archives, it was regarded necessary to digitalize them in order to provide a rational public service on these records. In addition, older registers are currently digitalized, so that researches in a near future will be able to access all records of civil registration from the 17th Century through the 20th century on the Web. The only exception are records that are closed according to the bills of secrecy and personal data protection, which only are available for authorized staff.
For more information on genealogical research see: www.svar.ra.seEnglish

The central access point is provided by the authority file of corporate bodies and persons associated with the archival material, primarily creators of archives. This central system only contains such basic archival information or references that can be covered by the area Resource relations in EAC. The archival references can either be live links to descriptions available within the central data base or to finding aids on external web sites, or just a link to a web page with information on the repository keeping the records. Data from external systems are harvested in the EAC format, stored, and maintained in the ARKIS system. Thereby the National Archives will take the responsibility for maintaining controlled access points within an authority file of archival creators, while the intellectual and legal responsibility of the finding aids remains by the repositories keeping the collections.

Data Harvesting and Control

The NAD system has a special maintenance suite for administration, harvesting and control of imported data.

A new data provider must first register contact details in a Web form. When the registration is approved, the data provider will receive a user name and a password to access a specific interface for uploading archival data, updating contact details, and see the status of submitted files.

The process also involves an agreement between the data provider and the National Archives on the contents and the use of the data. The data provider certifies thereby that the data is compliant with archival standards, and not containing contents that may violate laws on protection of personal data or copyright.

In this form, the data provider can state the format (EAC, MARC or other agreed format) for the file transfer. There are also Web forms both for creating and updating EAC records. The xml files are validated with the EAC schema defined for NAD. The result of the validation will be displayed for the data provider. When the file is submitted, the data provider will receive a confirmation.

The next step is that the NAD editor is notified about the transfer, and can review the file before import to the database. During the import process, names and dates of imported records are matched to those already present in NAD. When there is a likely match, a warning will be displayed. The NAD editor can then choose to link these duplicates in one shared authority record or to ignore the warning. If different records referring to the same entity are linked, they will be displayed as one record for the user (search e.g. on "De la Gardie, Magnus Gabriel", "Lidman, Sara").


Martin Bjersby, 'The Swedish National Register of Private Archives', in The National Registers of Archives: An International Perspective, ed. Dick Sargent, London, 1995.

Encoding Across Frontiers. Proceedings of the European Conference on Encoded Archival Description and Context (EAD and EAC), Paris, France, 1-8 October 2004. Ed. William Stockting and Fabienne Queyroux, London 2005 (co-published simultaneously as Journal of Archival Organization 3:2/3 2005).