EA-PDF began as a collaboration with the US National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), the Library of Congress and others, as part of an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation project to identify the essential characteristics and optimal functional requirements of email messages and necessary related information in a PDF technology-based archive.

The project published a technical white paper defining how email messages and their identified essential characteristics and functionality should be converted into PDF containers that can be considered - in the context of captured information - provably authentic and complete email records.

As described in the project narrative, project deliverables included a published report and appendices that define the significant characteristics of email required to meet the needs of the email archiving community. In addition, the report will lay out use cases for email-to-PDF software, while providing recommendations that vendors can use to build such archiving capabilities into email clients or third-party tools.

In November 2021 the University of Illinois Library at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign initiated its recently-won IMLS National Leadership Grant to develop EA-PDF. This project includes a collaboration with the PDF Association embodied in the EA-PDF Liaison Working Group with the intention of developing a technical specification to describe EA-PDF as a superset of PDF technology.

Related Publications

"Email Archiving in PDF (EA-PDF): From Initial Specification to Community of Practice" (Project Narrative) by University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

"A specification for using PDF to package and represent email" by the EA-PDF Working Group

"The Future of Email Archives"

"Archiving email into PDF containers - a Mellon Foundation project

"The future of past email is PDF

"Packaging email archives using PDF"

"Archiving email... as PDF" [YouTube video], PDF Days 2021, Dietrich von Seggern (callas software)

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign announcement about EA-PDF

PDF Association announcement about EA-PDF


Project narrative


Status: work-in-progress

Community: EA-PDF

November 11, 2021



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