Actors: People and Organizations

Table of Contents


Introduction

All activities are carried out by some actor, typically a person or organization. The identity and description of these actors are very important to provide in order to provide the context in which the objects are being acted upon. The creators, owners, sellers and curators of objects are all important to describe in a coherent fashion.

Types

There are two primary types of acting agent, Person and Group. They are subClasses of the Actor class, which might be used when it is not certain whether the actor is a Person or an Organization or Group. For example, if a sale of an object is listed as being from an art dealer called "Smith", it is unclear whether it refers to a person via their family name, or to an organization named after its owner. Equally, if there isn't any information about the actor currently, but identity is desired such that it can later be reconciled or used, then the use of Actor is likely needed. As such, encountering all three should be anticipated.

{
  "@context": "https://linked.art/ns/v1/linked-art.json", 
  "id": "https://linked.art/example/activity/3", 
  "type": "Acquisition", 
  "transferred_title_from": {
    "id": "https://linked.art/example/person/2", 
    "type": "Person", 
    "label": "J. Smith"
  }, 
  "transferred_title_to": {
    "id": "https://linked.art/example/group/2", 
    "type": "Group", 
    "label": "Example Museum Organization", 
    "classified_as": ["aat:300312281"]
  }, 
  "carried_out_by": [
    {
      "id": "https://linked.art/example/actor/1", 
      "type": "Actor", 
      "label": "Unknown Person or Organization"
    }
  ]
}

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Names

Names in CIDOC-CRM are turned into first class resources with their own identity, and given a class called Appellation. Being themselves uniquely identified rather than just an anonymous string, they are said to identify the resource they are associated with. This seems a little strange as names are not identifiers, but this particular instance of a name is uniquely associated with that particular person. Any sort of resource can have an Appellation of this sort. The main name associated with the resource, in this case Person, should also be its label. The main name to use, if there are multiple, should be classified_as aat:300404670.

{
  "@context": "https://linked.art/ns/v1/linked-art.json", 
  "id": "https://linked.art/example/person/3", 
  "type": "Person", 
  "label": "J. Smith", 
  "identified_by": [
    {
      "id": "https://linked.art/example/name/2", 
      "type": "Appellation", 
      "value": "J. Smith", 
      "classified_as": ["aat:300404670"]
    }
  ]
}

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Parts of Names

Personal names can often be broken down into parts, with different types. The types are given using the classified_as property. In Western tradition, there is a distinction between a first or given name (aat:300404651), a middle name (aat:300404654), and the family or sirname (aat:300404652). Titles, honorifics and similar can also be included, either as a suffix (aat:300404845) or a prefix (aat:300404662). The name parts are themselves Appellations, and are included in the composed_of set in the same way as other partitioning.

{
  "@context": "https://linked.art/ns/v1/linked-art.json", 
  "id": "https://linked.art/example/person/4", 
  "type": "Person", 
  "label": "Lady Joan A. Smith, Duchess of Wolverhampton", 
  "identified_by": [
    {
      "id": "https://linked.art/example/name/3", 
      "type": "Appellation", 
      "value": "Lady Joan A. Smith, Duchess of Wolverhampton", 
      "classified_as": ["aat:300404670"], 
      "composed_of": [
        {
          "id": "https://linked.art/example/name/6", 
          "type": "Appellation", 
          "value": "Lady", 
          "classified_as": ["aat:300404845"]
        }, 
        {
          "id": "https://linked.art/example/name/4", 
          "type": "Appellation", 
          "value": "Joan", 
          "classified_as": ["aat:300404651"]
        }, 
        {
          "id": "https://linked.art/example/name/8", 
          "type": "Appellation", 
          "value": "A.", 
          "classified_as": ["aat:300404654"]
        }, 
        {
          "id": "https://linked.art/example/name/5", 
          "type": "Appellation", 
          "value": "Smith", 
          "classified_as": ["aat:300404652"]
        }, 
        {
          "id": "https://linked.art/example/name/7", 
          "type": "Appellation", 
          "value": "Duchess of Wolverhampton", 
          "classified_as": ["aat:300404662"]
        }
      ]
    }
  ]
}

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Identity

Like objects, people are often assigned legacy identifiers that should be recorded and tracked. While the primary identifier is the URI given to the person, there can be any number of other identifiers also associated with the resource. These follow the same pattern as for object identifiers, with identified_by being used with an Identifier resource, that can have further classifications and a value. Organizations can also have identifiers, using the same pattern.

{
  "@context": "https://linked.art/ns/v1/linked-art.json", 
  "id": "https://linked.art/example/person/5", 
  "type": "Person", 
  "label": "Xavier Y. Zeelander", 
  "identified_by": [
    {
      "id": "https://linked.art/example/identifier/4", 
      "type": "Identifier", 
      "value": 643, 
      "classified_as": ["aat:300404621"]
    }
  ]
}

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Other Linked Data Identifiers

There may be other identifiers for the person available in external systems, such as ULAN or any of a dozen others. If all of the information needed about the person is available from that system, then it is recommended to simply use that identifier directly as the URI for the Person. If there is a requirement to maintain a separate identifier, then the exact_match property should be used to align the two.

{
  "@context": "https://linked.art/ns/v1/linked-art.json", 
  "id": "https://linked.art/example/person/6", 
  "type": "Person", 
  "label": "Vincent Van Gogh", 
  "exact_match": [{"id": "ulan:500115588-agent","label": "Van Gogh, Vincent"}]
}

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Life Events

There are key events in a person or organization's lifespan that are often recorded. These include the birth or beginning of existence, death or end of existence, and then the core period of their professional work.

Birth and Death / Beginning and End of Existence

Like the creation of objects, people and organizations also come into and out of existence through events. These events can take place at certain Places, and happen at certain times. This similarity between people and organizations results in the somewhat unwieldy brought_into_existence_by and taken_out_of_existence_by property names, with the respective BeginningOfExistence and EndOfExistence classes.

After death, people are still instances of Person which is a subclass of Actor, even though they can no longer carry out activities. People in comas or otherwise completely incapacitated also cannot carry out activities, but are not temporarily non-Actors. The modeling that death is a transformation from an instance of Person to an instance of Thing adds complexity for the sake of purity, but does not add any actual value. Thus a burial activity (aat:300263485) buries a Person, not a Thing-that-used-to-be-a-Person.

{
  "@context": "https://linked.art/ns/v1/linked-art.json", 
  "id": "https://linked.art/example/person/7", 
  "type": "Person", 
  "label": "Amanda B. Curtlett", 
  "brought_into_existence_by": {
    "id": "https://linked.art/example/event/2", 
    "type": "BeginningOfExistence", 
    "timespan": {
      "id": "https://linked.art/example/time/3", 
      "type": "TimeSpan", 
      "begin_of_the_begin": "1767-01-09", 
      "end_of_the_end": "1767-01-12"
    }
  }, 
  "taken_out_of_existence_by": {
    "id": "https://linked.art/example/event/3", 
    "type": "EndOfExistence", 
    "took_place_at": [
      {
        "id": "https://linked.art/example/place/5", 
        "type": "Place", 
        "label": "Death Place"
      }
    ], 
    "timespan": {
      "id": "https://linked.art/example/time/4", 
      "type": "TimeSpan", 
      "begin_of_the_begin": "1824-08-21", 
      "end_of_the_end": "1824-08-21"
    }
  }
}

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Active Dates

It is often useful to know where and when the person was active in their professional function. For example, an artist might have started painting when they were 20, stopped by 30, and only painted in Italy. This information can be used to help eliminate dubious attributions, for example. The pattern is similar to the provenance of an object.

The property for the Person or Group is carried_out, the inverse of the more familiar carried_out_by from Activities to Actors. The Activity resource should be classified_as aat:300393177, meaning the time when the actor is actively performing their primary professional function. The other properties of activities can and should also be used. If a person was active between 1910-01-01 and 1934-03-21, it might look like the example below.

{
  "@context": "https://linked.art/ns/v1/linked-art.json", 
  "id": "https://linked.art/example/person/8", 
  "type": "Person", 
  "label": "Patrick Q. Robertson", 
  "carried_out": [
    {
      "id": "https://linked.art/example/activity/4", 
      "type": "Activity", 
      "classified_as": ["aat:300393177"], 
      "timespan": {
        "id": "https://linked.art/example/time/5", 
        "type": "TimeSpan", 
        "begin_of_the_begin": "1910-01-01", 
        "end_of_the_end": "1934-03-21"
      }
    }
  ]
}

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Descriptive Information

Biography

Biographical descriptions follow the LinguisticObject pattern, with biography (aat:300080102) as the classification. In all other respects, it is a vanilla usage of a resource being referred_to_by a particular text.

{
  "@context": "https://linked.art/ns/v1/linked-art.json", 
  "id": "https://linked.art/example/person/9", 
  "type": "Person", 
  "label": "David E. Frederickson", 
  "referred_to_by": [
    {
      "id": "https://linked.art/example/text/4", 
      "type": "LinguisticObject", 
      "value": "Example biography", 
      "classified_as": ["aat:300080102"]
    }
  ]
}

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Digital Integration

Images of the person can also be provided, in the same way as for images of objects via the representation property. If IIIF resources, web pages or other digital content is available, the same patterns as for objects also apply. Only the basic image case is shown below, the other scenarios can easily be determined from the referenced digital integration for objects.

{
  "@context": "https://linked.art/ns/v1/linked-art.json", 
  "id": "https://linked.art/example/person/10", 
  "type": "Person", 
  "label": "Gertrude H. Ingram", 
  "representation": [
    {
      "id": "http://example.org/images/gertrude.jpg", 
      "type": "VisualItem", 
      "label": "Image of G.H. Ingram", 
      "format": "image/jpeg"
    }
  ]
}

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Nationality

Nationality is modeled in CRM as membership in a Group, the same way that a person can be a member_of an organization, a band or any other set of people. The Group should have aat:300379842 as one of its classifications, and if known, another classification for the specific culture or location for the nationality itself. For example, a person considered to be of British nationality, would be a member of a Group that was classified_as both aat:300379842 and aat:300111159.

{
  "@context": "https://linked.art/ns/v1/linked-art.json", 
  "id": "https://linked.art/example/person/11", 
  "type": "Person", 
  "label": "Jeremy K. Lintott", 
  "member_of": [
    {
      "id": "https://linked.art/example/group/3", 
      "type": "Group", 
      "label": "British", 
      "classified_as": ["aat:300379842","aat:300111159"]
    }
  ]
}

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Gender

Gender is a hotly debated and politically charged topic. The intent of this section is not to take a stand on those debates, but instead to allow the representation of data in museum and other information management systems to be made accessible.

Gender is not specifically discussed in CRM, in fact it was even deleted from a previous version, and the current modeling decision is to echo the same membership pattern as for nationality. This allows a plethora of gender diversity, and does not make any specific statements about biological versus assumed versus prefered gender roles. A Person can be a member of multiple groups at the same time, allowing the association with multiple genders with this modeling decision. Gender based groups should be classified_as aat:300055147 along with any specific classification known.

{
  "@context": "https://linked.art/ns/v1/linked-art.json", 
  "id": "https://linked.art/example/person/12", 
  "type": "Person", 
  "label": "Mabel N. Overton", 
  "member_of": [
    {
      "id": "https://linked.art/example/group/4", 
      "type": "Group", 
      "label": "feminine", 
      "classified_as": ["aat:300055147","aat:300189557"]
    }
  ]
}

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Organization Membership

As discussed above, Organizations can be seen as the actor when it comes to their roles in various events. For example, an auction is likely to be carried out by an organization, and they can own and curate objects.

The only significantly new aspect to organizational actors, compared to people, is that they can have members. These members can be either sub-groups, such as a department within a museum, or individuals.

For example, a curator could be a member_of a department, which is in turn a member of the wider institution. This is simply the inverse of member relationship described in the base patterns.

{
  "@context": "https://linked.art/ns/v1/linked-art.json", 
  "id": "https://linked.art/example/person/13", 
  "type": "Person", 
  "label": "Sameen T. Underwood", 
  "member_of": [
    {
      "id": "https://linked.art/example/group/5", 
      "type": "Group", 
      "label": "Paintings Department", 
      "classified_as": ["aat:300263534"], 
      "member_of": [
        {
          "id": "https://linked.art/example/group/6", 
          "type": "Group", 
          "label": "Example Museum", 
          "classified_as": ["aat:300312281"]
        }
      ]
    }
  ]
}

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