NEW YORK, Nov. 1, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Digital Preservation Coalition announced the formation of a Task Force on Technical Approaches for Email Archives. The task force is charged with assessing current frameworks, tools, and approaches being taken toward these critical historical sources. Christopher Prom, assistant university archivist/Andrew S. G. Turyn Endowed Professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Kate Murray, IT specialist in the Technology Policy Directorate at the Library of Congress, will serve as cochairs of the task force. Personal correspondence has long served as an essential primary source for historians and scholars across many humanities and social science disciplines. Archives of correspondence articulate authors' lived experiences. They help future generations understand and learn from history, providing evidence of the functions and activities of governments, businesses, nonprofit organizations, families, and individuals. But today, much of that correspondence is embodied by digital materials, and particularly emails, which have proven themselves far more difficult to gather and preserve in an accessible, approachable format. "This is a topic of deep concern. Preserved correspondence helps students of the past develop a nuanced understanding of events, much more so than published or other widely circulated sources," explained Prom. While archivists, technologists, librarians, and others continue to make progress in capturing, preserving, and providing access to various forms of digital expression, email has remained resistant to a variety of efforts at preservation and is currently not systematically acquired by most archives and libraries. Part of the challenge is that email exists as a complicated interaction of technical subsystems for composition, transport, viewing, and storage. Creating email archives involves multiple processes including acquisition and appraisal of collections, processing records, meeting privacy and legal considerations, preserving messages and attachments, and facilitating access.