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Last modified: April 22, 2002
Encoded Archival Description (EAD)

[December 20, 2002]   US Library of Congress Releases Encoded Archival Description DTD Version 2002.    A posting from Randall K. Barry (U.S. Library of Congress) announces the release of the EAD DTD Version 2002. The Encoded Archival Description (EAD) standard is used by digital libraries to create machine-readable finding aids. Archival finding aids are "descriptive bibliography or metadata tools which take the form of inventories, registers, indexes, guides, and similar resources created by museums, libraries, repositories, and other kinds of archives." The Version 2002 EAD DTD "is designed to function as both an SGML and XML DTD. It conforms to SGML/XML specifications and has been thoroughly tested using a wide variety of existing SGML/XML software. To be used as an XML DTD, 'switches' have been included in the DTD for turning off features used only in SGML applications, and turning on features used in XML applications." Complete documentation for use of the EAD DTD is provided in the form of a Tag Library. The EAD DTD Version 2002 has been prepared by the Encoded Archival Description Working Group of the Society of American Archivists and the Network Development and MARC Standards Office of the Library of Congress. The MARC Standards Office (NDMSO) acts as the maintenance agency for the EAD standard. At least 75 institutions are registered as users of the EAD DTD.

The US Library of Congress and several research level institutions have been engaged in the collaborative work of the EAD (Encoded Archival Description) initiative for several years. These institutions use the EAD DTD, and currently encode their archival finding aids using the Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML). "As a potential international standard, the EAD DTD is maintained in the Network Development and MARC Standards Office of the US Library of Congress in partnership with the Society of American Archivists." The finding aids documents conforming to the EAD DTD are viewable on the Internet using SoftQuad Panorama, or in some cases, are translated into HTML on the fly.

Archival finding aids are "descriptive bibliography" or "metadata" tools which take the form of inventories, registers, indexes, guides, and similar resources created by museums, libraries, repositories, and other kinds of archives. Daniel Pitti (Project Director, Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, University of Virginia) submitted a public posting to the Encoded Archival Description List to the effect "that Version 1 of the EAD DTD will be fully compliant with XML." Where appropriate, variant SGML/XML sections of the DTD activated through the use of marked sections.

[September 01, 1998] Version 1.0 of EAD SGML DTD is now available, and XML support is included. EAD 1.0 credits: Prepared and Maintained by the Encoded Archival Description Working Group of the Society of American Archivists and the Network Development and MARC Standards Office of the Library of Congress. Editor: Daniel V. Pitti, Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, University of Virginia. The developers and users believe that the Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML), "as applied in this suite of DTDs and related files, is already revolutionizing the world of finding aids by providing a single standardized encoding through which archival descriptions can be exchanged and used. It may also simplify the process of creating machine-readable finding aids in the future as the use of SGML tools becomes more widespread and better understood." The US Library of Congress, Network Development and MARC Standards Office (NDMSO) will be the maintenance agency for this EAD standard.

From the announcement: "After several years of intensive experimentation and testing, the developers of the Encoded Archival Description are pleased to announce the availability of Version 1.0 of the EAD SGML/XML DTD and related files. This is the first production release of the EAD DTD. Version 1.0 incorporates a variety of enhancements requested during experimentation with the 'beta' test version of the EAD DTD. During the two-year beta test, a wide range of users experimented with the EAD DTD. Their input was important for determining the final shape of this implementation of SGML. Version 1.0 of the EAD DTD is designed to function as both an SGML and XML DTD. It conforms to all SGML (ISO:8879) specifications. It has been thoroughly tested against [James Clark's] SP, the mostly widely used SGML validating parser, as well as with a wide variety of existing SGML software. By default, the EAD DTD and EADGRP DTD are configured to function as SGML DTDs. The EAD and EADGRP DTDs have also been validated using existing XML validating parsers. To be used as XML DTDs, both EAD and EADGRP have 'switches' for turning off features used only in SGML applications, and turning on features used on in XML applications. Instructions for using these 'switches' are contained in the DTDs themselves. A more detailed technical overview of the DTD is being developed, and will be made available at this site when completed." [From: "DTD Now Available."]

[September 11, 1998] EAD RoundTable Website - Timothy Young (Yale University) and Beth Bensman (Thomas Jefferson University) are planning to create a Website that can act as a sort of clearinghouse for EAD information - technical, commercial, even inspirational. Daniel Pitti has offered space on a University of Virginia server. These plans were laid at the inaugural meeting of the EAD RoundTable of the SAA, September 4, 1988. See provisionally: the FTP site with SQ rules (.rls) files and compiled WordPerfect lgc files.

[Previous status report:] Version 1 of the EAD DTD has been under development for several months, and was recently reviewed for "final" changes in a meeting of October 31-November 2, 1997, by fifteen members of the Encoded Archival Description Working Group of the SAA Committee on Archival Information Exchange. A summary from the preceding post: "The EAD Working Group consists of sixteen individuals representing the United Kingdom, Canada, the Library of Congress, the National Archives, the Research Libraries Group and OCLC, and a number of American academic institutions and one historical society who have been involved for almost three years in the development of EAD. The WG is currently engaged in preparing three documents for final release early this year [1998]: version 1.0 of the EAD DTD, the Tag Library, and a set of Application Guidelines."

[January 15, 1999] Richard Rinehart of the Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive has issued an invitation for the submission of papers to a special issue on the Encoded Archival Description (EAD). Kluwer Academic Publishing is dedicating a special issue of Archives and Museum Informatics: The Cultural Heritage Informatics Quarterly to the EAD, for which SGML and XML DTDs are now in use. The volume is to published in the Fall of 1999. Researchers are invited to "submit articles about their experiences with the EAD in project implementations, development, research, theory, or as a user of EAD-based resources. One emphasis of this issue will be on the cross-community application of the EAD, so the editors welcome articles from the broad library, archive, academic, and museum communities, as well as articles which are specifically about cross-community projects or issues. This special issue is being guest-edited by Richard Rinehart of the UC Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive and Anne Gilliland-Swetland of UCLA's Department of Library & Information Science."

[September 10, 2001] EAD and W3C XML Schema. From Daniel Pitti, 10-September-2001. Encoded Archival Description List. "...There is no official effort underway to express the EAD DTD in XML Schema. Rationale: XML Schema has only recently been elevated to "recommendation" status by the W3C, 2 May 2001. Robust software support for it is not yet available. EAD and other complex DTDs (such as DocBook and TEI) make extensive use of parameter entities in their designs. Parameter entities do not map directly into Schema structures, and thus to accomplish the same or similar semantic and structural objectives in Schema requires rethinking and "re-engineering." Since the re-expression of EAD into Schema will require a major effort, the EADWG has deferred making a decision concerning Schema until there is major support for it as demonstrated by significant software developments and implementations, and there are clear benefits to having an EAD Schema. Speaking for myself, I suspect EAD will be expressed in Schema at some point, but not yet. The data typing and other constraints enabled by Schema are potentially quite useful, especially as the archival community begins to extend consensus on what constitutes good archival description..."


  • EAD Standards Home Page

  • EAD Version 2002

  • EAD in XML


  • The American Archivist - Special Issue Publications on The Encoded Archival Description (EAD). Twelve feature articles on the Encoded Archival Description. Contains a partial list of EAD sites.

  • RLG EAD Support Site

  • Main database entry: Library of Congress - Encoded Archival Description (EAD) and Finding Aids Project

  • US Library of Congress EAD DTD page

  • EAD Electronic List archive - 'In response to great demand for a useful archive of posting made to the list, the Library of Congress has mounted a new official archive of EAD messages going back as far as we could. The EAD list was first made available in November 1995.'

  • EAD Roundtable Help Pages

  • EAD Tools and Resources

  • EAD DTD hyperlinked - DTD2html

  • EAD Sites - Annotated List. University of Virginia

  • See also: "Encoded Archival Context Initiative (EAC)."

  • See also: "Linking and Exploring Authority Files (LEAF)."

  • [April 22, 2003] "Review of Encoded Archival Description on the Internet." By Helen R. Tibbo (School of Information and Library Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill). In D-Lib Magazine Volume 9, Number 4 (April 2003). ISSN: 1082-9873. Review of the book edited by Daniel V. Pitti and Wendy M. Duff. "In the introduction, Pitti and Duff note that they hope this collection of eleven papers 'will provide an effective introduction to archival description and EAD, a useful overview of its use in various contexts, and an insight into its potential to revolutionize archival practices and services and to democratize and extend access to archival resources.' The text, initially published as volume 4, numbers 3/4 2001 of the Journal of Internet Cataloging, succeeds admirably in these goals. Each article is informative and the compilation provides an excellent introduction to Encoded Archival Description and contextualization for its use. The articles discuss the fundamentals of archival arrangement and description and illustrate how EAD facilitates descriptive practice and extends reference and access in an electronic networked environment. EAD, a data structure standard and encoding scheme initially built as an SGML (Standard Generalized Markup Language) DTD (Document Type Definition) for the encoding of electronic archival finding aids, is now an XML (Extensible Markup Language) compliant scheme. EAD maintains the multilevel and hierarchical nature of finding aids and facilitates structured presentation and searching of these tools in networked environments such as the World Wide Web... as new metadata models, initiatives, and standards appear at a dizzying pace, the archival profession and, more broadly, the digital library arena need a thorough analysis of the relationship among these tools. Increasingly, archival institutions and other cultural heritage repositories are concerned that their collection metadata be compliant with the Open Archives Initiative (OAI) so that it can be harvested for inclusion in large union repositories built around the Dublin Core standard. Yet, OAI captures but a tiny fraction of the information resident in most finding aids and is even less rich than MARC records, which archivists have long lamented for their inability to represent hierarchical archival metadata. Studies of the relationship between the data represented in EAD, MARC, and the OAI standard are needed and must be analyzed in relationship to how archival users search for information. When will it be most efficacious for researchers to use search OAI records in large national or international databases? When will it be best for them to search the Web for the finding aids themselves? Will MARC records in repository online catalogs continue to play a vital role between the OAI and EAD levels of complexity? How will repositories invest in all these metadata schemes so as to best preserve and make accessible their materials?"

  • [September 30, 2002] "RLG Best Practice Guidelines for Encoded Archival Description." By RLG EAD Advisory Group. August 2002. 34 pages. "The objectives of the guidelines are: (1) To facilitate interoperability of resource discovery by imposing a basic degree of uniformity on the creation of valid EAD-encoded documents and to encourage the inclusion of elements most useful for retrieval in a union index and for display in an integrated (cross-institutional) setting. (2) To offer researchers the full benefits of XML in retrieval and display by developing a set of core data elements to improve resource discovery. It is hoped that by identifying core elements and by specifying 'best practice' for those elements, these guidelines will be valuable to those who create finding aids, as well as to vendors and tool builders. (3) To contribute to the evolution of the EAD standard by articulating a set of best practice guidelines suitable for interinstitutional and international use. These guidelines can be applied to both retrospective conversion of legacy finding aids and the creation of new finding aids... The document focuses on general issues that cross institutional boundaries." A 2002-09-27 posting from Merrilee Proffitt provides background to this publication; see "RLG Best Practice Guidelines for Encoded Archival Description Now Available": "These guidelines were developed by the RLG EAD Advisory Group between October 2001 and August 2002 to facilitate interoperability of resource discovery by imposing a basic degree of uniformity on the creation of valid EAD-encoded documents, encourage the inclusion of particular elements, and develop a set of core data elements. In fall 2001, RLG charged a reconstituted EAD Advisory Group with revising RLG's existing guidelines for three reasons: (1) an awareness that encoding practices have evolved considerably since pioneering repositories began submitting finding aids under the original 1998 RLG encoding guidelines; (2) an appreciation that the community of EAD practitioners has grown markedly since then, including a significant expansion outside the United States; (3) the knowledge that the impending release of EAD 2002, the updated version of the DTD would of itself require changes in the encoding guidelines. Nine experienced EAD users worked with program officer Merrilee Proffitt to evaluate and rework the existing guidelines; members of the group surveyed best practice documents from a number of different repositories and projects before beginning their task. Group members settled on two key objectives. One was to identify and define the use of a minimal set of EAD elements and attributes complete enough to assure that information in finding aids is adequate to serve the users' needs and yet parsimonious enough to prevent excessive encoding overhead on the creators. Their second objective was to assure that the guidelines stand a reasonable chance of meeting the needs of an international encoding community..." See references in: (1) RLG EAD Support Site; (2) EAD Round Table Help Pages.

  • [February 11, 2002] NYU Digital Library Team stylesheets. XSL Stylesheets for EAD. Posted by Leslie Diane Myrick 2002-02-11. "On behalf of the Digital Library Team at NYU I am pleased to announce the availability of a new set of stylesheets for XT and Saxon that address the issue of rendering collections that contain combinations of materials that go beyond box and folder only or box only and so on. The stylesheets are based on eadcbs3.xsl (frames based rendering). For each XSLT processor you will find a version of the stylesheet for static rendering using the PC-based executable and a dynamic version that can be used in a servlet environment using XT or Saxon. Please feel free to use these files as jumping off places for your own development; they are stable works in progress. A downloadable test finding aid marked up to our specs is also included on our EAD Production Guide site to ensure that the input will be as the stylesheet expects it..."

  • [July 18, 2001] "XML Transformation Demo. With Apache, mod_perl, and AxKit." By Chuck Bearden (Rice University). "By way of follow-up to [discussion] about AxKit, I'm posting the link to a brief demo of XSLT transformation I created for an introductory XML course given by a colleague here at Rice...'] I use three finding aids from collections in our Woodson Research Collection, marked up in EAD as part of the TARO project. There are links permitting you to view them as plain XML (mime type 'text/plain'), and transformed according to each of five XSLT stylesheets. Let me emphasize that I don't know XSLT. Daniel Pitti of IATH at UVa created these stylesheets for use in the courses he teaches, and he kindly sent them to me for the purposes of creating this demo. These stylesheets were not designed for transforming EAD into HTML for public use on websites, but rather for illustrating XSLT transformation pedagogically. My demo is designed to show folks new to XML how one document source can be transformed into multiple outputs--something which readers of this list are well aware of. However, it also lets you see AxKit with libxml2 and libxslt at work..."

  • [February 12, 2001]   US Library of Congress Hosts Online EAD Application Guidelines.    Kris Kiesling (Chair, SAA EAD Working Group and SAA Standards Committee) reports that the Web/HTML edition of the Encoded Archival Description Application Guidelines for Version 1.0 of the EAD DTD is now online from the Library of Congress EAD web site. The EAD Document Type Definition (DTD) is a standard for encoding archival finding aids using SGML and XML (Extensible Markup Language). [Full context]

  • [November 17, 1999] The November issue of D-Lib Magazine, produced by The Corporation for National Research Initiatives (CNRI), features an introduction and overview of the Encoded Archival Description (EAD) standard. Reference: "Encoded Archival Description: An Introduction and Overview." By Daniel V. Pitti (Project Director, Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, University of Virginia). In D-Lib Magazine [ISSN: 1082-9873] Volume 5, Number 11 (November 1999). "Encoded Archival Description (EAD) is an emerging standard used internationally in an increasing number of archives and manuscripts libraries to encode data describing corporate records and personal papers. The individual descriptions are variously called finding aids, guides, handlists, or catalogs. While archival description shares many objectives with bibliographic description, it differs from it in several essential ways. From its inception, EAD was based on SGML, and, with the release of EAD version 1.0 in 1998, it is also compliant with XML. EAD was, and continues to be, developed by the archival community. While development was initiated in the United States, international interest and contribution are increasing. EAD is currently administered and maintained jointly by the Society of American Archivists and the United States Library of Congress. Developers are currently exploring ways to internationalize the administration and maintenance of EAD to reflect and represent the expanding base of users."

  • [October 14, 1999] A communiqué from Kris Kiesling (Chair of the SAA EAD Working Group and SAA Standards Committee) reports on the recent publication of the EAD Application Guidelines by the Society of American Archivists. Reference: Encoded Archival Description Application Guidelines Version 1.0, prepared by the Encoded Archival Description Working Group of Society of American Archivists (SAA, 1999, 330 pages). This Application Guidelines volume "introduces Encoded Archival Description (EAD) from administrative, archival, and technical perspectives. It constitutes the 'final' piece of documentation for EAD Version 1.0; other volumes include the EAD Document Type Definition and Encoded Archival Description Tag Library. The volume also contains several helpful appendices, such as a list of recommended (and required) elements, crosswalks to ISAD(G) and MARC, and fully-encoded finding aid examples from repositories in the US and the UK. The Council of SAA (the governing body of the EAD Working Group) voted on August 28, 1999 to endorse the Encoded Archival Description as an official SAA descriptive standard."

  • Encoded Archival Description (EAD) and Finding Aids Projects - General Information on SGML and Digital Library Projects

  • Version 1.0 of EAD SGML DTD Now Available. August 1998. - Announcement to Creators of Archival Finding Aids. [local archive copy]

  • Version 1.0 DTD. Prepared and Maintained by the Encoded Archival Description Working Group of the Society of American Archivists and the Network Development and MARC Standards Office of the Library of Congress. Editor: Daniel V. Pitti, Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, University of Virginia. [main DTD local archive copy, six essential files, archive file]

  • LC FTP Directory - EAD Software Resources

  • Special Issues on EAD - Summer 1998 American Archivist

  • Daniel Pitti - on EAD linking via XML Xlink elements

  • SGML, Meta-language with no limits? By Peter D. Verheyen.

  • Interface EAD Information Site

  • Library Information Interchange Standards

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