E-mail Curation: Practical Approaches for Long-term Preservation and Access

24 - 25 April 2006
Grey Street Hotel, Newcastle


The increasing use of e-mail has drastically changed the way that many organisations work. To provide evidential value and to ensure legal compliance, it is essential that traditional record-keeping practices are applied to the management and preservation of e-mails. This often requires a cultural change in organisational practices, which can be exceedingly difficult to implement. In addition, there are a range of technical issues that can impact the long-term viability and re-usability of e-mails. This workshop investigated some of the organisational, cultural, and technical issues that must be addressed to provide accountability in the short term and to ensure that e-mails can be located, retrieved, accessed, and re-used over time.

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Workshop Presentations

Session One: E-mail as Records

Email records: From Creation to Curation [PPT, 163KB] Maureen Pennock, DCC

Institutional Drivers and Barriers to Archiving Emails [PPT, 1MB] Carys Thomas and Garry Booth, Loughborough University Additional Documents: Records Management and Email: Generic Policy for Email Retention and Disposal [PDF, 57KB] Records Management and Email: Loughborough University Final Project Report [PDF, 68KB]

Turning Back the Tide: Email Management Without Specialist Software [PPT, 375KB] Susan Graham, University of Edinburgh

Session Two: Practical Tools and Approaches

This session provided examples of technical and practical approaches for preserving e-mails.

Preserving email with XML: The XmaiL approach from the Digital Preservation Testbed [PPT, 1.3MB] Jacqueline Slats, National Archives of the Netherlands Additional Documents: Cost spreadsheet [XLS, 116KB] Animated demo [EXE, 814KB]

Archiving e-mails: the eDAVID approach and implementation [PPT, 339KB] Filip Boudrez, Stadsarchief Antwerpen

Can The E-mail Beast Be Tamed? A Progress Report on the U.S. Experience In Applying Best Practice Guidelines For Managing Desktop E-Records [PPT, 476KB] Jason Baron, NARA Additional Documents: U.S. National Archives and Records Administration Regulations on E-mail [PDF, 53KB] NARA CFR Part 1234 [PDF, 57KB]

Digital Manuscripts: Capture & Context - A collection level approach to preserving scientific materials including emails at the British Library [PDF, 3.88MB] Jeremy John, British Library

Session 3: Reuse of Preserved E-mails

This session focused on the issues surrounding the re-use of preserved email messages and methods for analysing e-mail collections.

Understanding the Rhythms of Relationships in Email Archives [PPT, 4.1MB] Susan Davis, University of Maryland

Barriers to re-using emails over time [PDF, 170KB] Susan Thomas, Paradigm Project, Oxford University Library

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Benefits of Attendance

The workshop helped individuals apply a records management approach to the long-term management of their e-mails and illustrated the potential legal benefits associated with the long-term management and re-use of e-mails.


The workshop was delivered over three sessions:

  • The first session examined the concept of e-mails as records focusing on cultural and organizational issues
  • The second session reviewed current applications and practical approaches to preserving e-mails over time
  • The third session explored some of the issues surrounding use and re-use of e-mails

A breakout session on the afternoon of day two allowed participants to discuss some of the workshop themes in greater detail.

Key themes included:

  • Classification of e-mails as records
  • Overview of records management processes with regards to the long-term preservation and accessibility of e-mails
  • Overview of e-mail management and preservation activities being undertaken internationally
  • Practical applications of preservation processes
  • Evidential value and research benefits associated with archiving e-mails

Programme Committee

  • Seamus Ross, DCC Associate Director Services
  • Joy Davidson, DCC Training Coordinator
  • Maureen Pennock, DCC Researcher and Advisor


This event was held at the Grey Street Hotel [external], Newcastle. Wireless internet access was provided free of charge for participants. Find out how to get to Grey Street Hotel [external]. Printer-friendly travel directions are also available [external].


There are a limited number of rooms available on-site at Grey Street Hotel. Book a room online [external]. A list of additional accommodation options for prospective participants is also available [external].


Registration fees were £100 for DCC Associates Network members and £150 for non-members. These fees included all workshop materials and handouts, dinner on 24 April, lunch on 25 April, and refreshments.

Membership of the DCC Associates Network is FREE! For more information on becoming a member, see our Associates Network page.

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