Something New for Something Old: Innovative Approaches to Managing Archives and Special Collections

December 4-5, 2008 at the Union League of Philadelphia



Overview and Updates

Schedule and Speakers


Information for Attendees


Chris Prom
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Biographical Statement

Christopher J. Prom is Assistant University Archivist and Associate Professor of Library Administration at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he is responsible for managing digital projects, supervising archival processing, accessioning university records, and acquiring manuscript collections that fall within the archives’ documentary mandate.

He holds a PhD in History from the University of Illinois, where he wrote a dissertation regarding mutual aid societies in late-Victorian Britain, and he also studied at the University of York (United Kingdom). Chris was the recipient of a 2003-04 National Historic Publications and Records Commission fellowship and a 1997-98 Fulbright Fellowship.

Chris has served the Society of American Archivists as Chair of the Nominating Committee, the Description Section, and the Technical Subcommittee on Descriptive Standards. He has also worked as a member of the Standards Committee and the Pease Award Subcommittee. He is currently a member of the Encoded Archival Context Working Group.

His research interests address the ways in which archival users seek information relevant to their needs and how archivists can efficiently manage analog and electronic records. He is the author of several research articles, most recently(with Ellen Swain) "From College Democrats to the Falling Illini: Identifying, Appraising, and Capturing Student Organization Web Sites," which appeared in the Fall/Winter 2007 edition of American Archivist. He is also co-editor College and University Archives: Readings in Theory and Practice (2008). Chris is currently working on a research article concerning the use of web analytics software for understanding user behaviors. He is co-director of the Archon™ project, which has developed an open source application for managing archival descriptive information and digital objects. Over the next several years, he hopes to develop applications that will help make the acquisition and management of electronic records a more routine part of archival work at his and other repositories.

member of Infrastructure panel

Project Description

Archon emerged as a research project from the University of Illinois Archives and the Sousa Archives and Center for American Music. Archon is predicated on the notion that a unified, web-based application is a lynchpin in expanding access to archival descriptive information, digital objects, and electronic records. In this sense, Archon can be thought of as a Content Management System (CMS) that allows archives and manuscript repositories to describe and provide access to the totality of their holdings. Like most content management systems, Archon requires only a set of very common, free technologies (a webserver running PHP 5.0 or higher and a database server, such as MySQL.)

When developing Archon, we felt that the system needed to meet Illinois' needs first and foremost, but that it should be based on descriptive standards, such as ISAD(G), DACS, and EAD. At the same time, we decided to release the code under the Illinois Open Source License. We believed that other repositories might find Archon useful and felt that they would help us improve the code through testing and evaluation. The Archon application has been adopted by nearly 30 institutions as a current or planned production system. Its user interface is available in English and Spanish. A list of known implementers, a sandbox, and downloads are available at the project website, A production version of Archon is running at

Full Project Description



Last updated October 31, 2008 Questions may be directed to Laura Blanchard,