EAD Application Guidelines for Version 1.0

Chapter 3. Creating Finding Aids in EAD: Continued

3.6. Adding Metadata to Describe the Finding Aid

The elements that describe a body of archival materials (the text of the finding aid) are bundled in <archdesc>. In an online environment it is also important to include metadata describing the finding aid itself at the beginning of the electronic file; it may also be desirable to include a title page and some prefatory information relating to the finding aid. EAD accommodates such needs with <eadheader> and <frontmatter> respectively. The content of both elements relates to the finding aid per se rather than to the archival materials described therein.

3.6.1. EAD Header <eadheader>

In the paper environment it has not always been necessary to prepare formal descriptive data about the finding aid for inclusion within a finding aid document. Such information is, however, a critical component of an EAD finding aid residing in a machine-readable environment. The <eadheader> comprises a set of metadata about the finding aid that serves to identify unambiguously each particular EAD instance by providing a unique identification code for the document; by stating bibliographic information such as the author, title, and publisher of the finding aid; and by tracking significant revisions to the EAD file. The <eadheader> element and several of its subelements are required, and consistent formulation of the information within some of them is essential.

The <eadheader> was modeled on the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI)(69) header element to encourage uniformity in the provision of metadata across document types. The sequence of elements is specified by the EAD DTD, with the expectation that searches by finding aid title, date, language, or repository will be more predictable if all finding aid creators follow a uniform order of metadata elements. Consequently, <eadheader> is a required wrapper element containing four subelements that must appear in the following order: <eadid>, <filedesc>, <profiledesc>, and <revisiondesc>.

In addition, <eadheader> has some important attributes:

An <eadheader> start-tag with full content designation of these attributes might look like this:

	<eadheader audience="internal" encodinganalog="Dublin Core"
	findaidstatus="edited-full-draft" langencoding="ISO 639-2">

Since <eadheader> captures a full bibliographic description of the finding aid, it is possible to use it to generate a title page for the finding aid. Keep in mind, however, that there is no flexibility in the order in which the elements are encoded, and stylesheets may or may not be able to reorder the elements for output. If you want a nicely formatted title page with information displayed or printed in a specific order, use the <titlepage> element under <frontmatter> for this purpose (see section 3.6.2).

An example of a complete encoded <eadheader> is given in section Unique File Identifier <eadid>

The <eadid> element is a required subelement of <eadheader> that designates a unique identifier for a given EAD instance. The "uniqueness" aspect of this definition is meant very literally, since the value contained in each individual <eadid> element must be distinct from all other occurrences of <eadid> in other finding aids, so as to differentiate each particular electronic file from all others. This is intended to be true not only within a given institution's naming conventions, but optimally across the entire universe of finding aids that might some day come together in a multi-institutional union catalog.

This one-of-a-kind identifier may be encoded entirely within the text of the <eadid> element, or as a combination of the element text and a value in the SYSTEMID attribute that names the repository. In this way a local designation such as "M32," which may be used by multiple archives, can be modified and rendered unique via the addition of a local designation in the attribute, such as the NUC symbol for a U.S. repository.

Three broad categories of designation may be employed in <eadid>:

Local identification numbers, such as call numbers, are best used in conjunction with a local designation in the SYSTEMID attribute.

Electronic file names may be used, either in the form of a Uniform Resource Identifier (URI, a formal file path name) or a mediated name such as a purl (see section 5.4 for a discussion of issues relating to file naming).

The third option is an SGML catalog entry, which names the EAD instance in the same manner that a general external entity is cited (see section 6.5 for more information on entities). This includes the use of a formal public identifier, which may be thought of as an SGML citation form. The SGML catalog entry approach has two advantages. First, it includes sufficient information in the element text to identify uniquely the collection represented in the finding aid rather than simply giving an ambiguous number or file name. Second, as an SGML entity it may be linked through an entry in an external SGML catalog file to the computer storage location of the document. In this way, an actual computer file name, which may change over time, need not be "hard-wired" or embedded in the EAD instance. This eliminates the need to update individual finding aids when the EAD files change names or locations.(70) Unfortunately, XML does not recognize the SGML catalog concept. As a result, the value of using a catalog entry as a surrogate for a specific file name in the <eadid> (or for any entity reference) does not apply with XML systems. File Description <filedesc>

Bibliographic information about the intellectual content of the encoded finding aid is bundled in the required element <filedesc>, in which the finding aid's title, subtitle, author, and publisher are encoded in a series of subelements.

The required <titlestmt> sublement may include the title and subtitle of the encoded finding aid, the name of the author, and the name of the sponsor, in that order. The required <titleproper> within <titlestmt> should be a formal title for the finding aid itself, such as "An Inventory of the Papers of Tom Stoppard at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center," or "The Tom Stoppard Papers, 1944-1995: An Inventory of His Papers at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center."(71) The <titleproper> element has several attributes, perhaps the most useful of which are EXTENT and PUBSTATUS. The EXTENT attribute indicates whether the finding aid describes all or part of the materials, while PUBSTATUS indicates whether the finding aid is published or unpublished. A fully-encoded <titlestmt> might look like this:

		<titleproper pubstatus="pub" extent="all">The Tom Stoppard
		Papers, 1944-1995</titleproper>
		<subtitle>An Inventory of His Papers at the Harry Ransom
		Humanities Research Center</subtitle>
		<author>Finding aid prepared by K. Mosley</author>

Other bibliographic elements within <filedesc> are <editionstmt>, <publicationstmt>, <seriesstmt>, and <notestmt>, which must be presented in the order just stated if they are used. All are optional and may be used infrequently or never by many repositories.

Institutions seldom have the luxury of producing more than one edition of a finding aid, but in an instance where additional materials are acquired and incorporated into the collection and the finding aid subsequently is expanded and updated, <editionstmt> provides the capability of adding edition information. The ease with which finding aids can be published and edited on the Web may encourage more frequent updates or editions.

In a paper environment, repositories may not have considered their finding aids "published," since they typically resided in file cabinets and binders in the repository. In the Internet environment, however, finding aids are considered publications. The element <publicationstmt> contains information about the publication or distribution of the encoded finding aid and can include the repository's name and address, the date of publication, and other relevant details. The entire text of <publicationstmt> can be stated in <p>, or the information can be more precisely encoded using <publisher>, <address>, and <date>:

		<p>Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, 1996</p>

		<publisher>Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, </publisher>
		<date type="publication">1996</date>

Either method of markup is equally valid, but remember that more specific content designation increases flexibility in manipulation of the data.

If the encoded finding aid is published as part of a monographic series, this information can be encoded in <seriesstmt>. Like <publicationstmt>, <p> may be used in lieu of specific elements, or you may specifically encode the title of the series using <titleproper> and the series numbering using <num>:

		<p>Stuffatoria unite, vol. 65</p>

	<titleproper>Stuffatoria unite, </titleproper>
	<num>vol. 65</num>

The <notestmt> element can contain a series of <note>s, each of which would contain a single piece of descriptive information about the finding aid. This use of <note> would be different from its purpose in <did>, where <note> is intended for explanatory, not descriptive, text concerning the archival materials being described. Version of the Encoded Finding Aid <profiledesc>

While <filedesc> provides bibliographic information about the intellectual content of the finding aid, <profiledesc> bundles information about the creation of the encoded version of the finding aid, such as the name of the encoder, the place and date of the encoding, and the version of EAD used. The creator of the finding aid and the individual who encodes it may or may not be one and the same, depending on institutional workflow and whether the finding aid is new or contains legacy data that is being converted. It may be important to distinguish these individuals, especially if the encoding is done by a third party and does not reflect the encoding policies of the institution that created the finding aid.

The <profiledesc> element is not required, but its use is recommended, since it establishes initial version control for the finding aid. The <profiledesc> element also can record the language(s) in which the finding aid itself was written within the <langusage> and <language> elements. Including this information may enable search engines to restrict searches to finding aids written in selected languages.

		<creation>Finding aid encoded in EAD V1.0 by Kris Kiesling using
		Author/Editor V.3.5, <date>November 4, 1998</date>.
		</creation> <langusage>Finding aid written in
		<language>English</language> and
	</profiledesc> Revisions of the Encoded Finding Aid <revisiondesc>

Keeping track of various versions of a finding aid and the nature of the changes made has long been a standard need of archives, and maintenance of EAD finding aids is no different. The last <eadheader> element, <revisiondesc>, contains information about changes that have been made to the encoded finding aid.

The <revisiondesc> element is intended to document substantial changes made to the finding aid, such as those resulting from the addition of collection material or from updating the finding aid from one version of EAD to another. As with <profiledesc>, use of <revisiondesc> is not required but is recommended. It is not necessary (or recommended), however, that you record minor editorial or typographical changes made after the finding aid has been encoded. As with the other <eadheader> elements, <revisiondesc> is modeled on the TEI DTD, which recommends that changes be numbered and listed in reverse chronological order (the most recent change is listed first):

			<date>January 23, 2000</date>
			<item>2. Finding aid converted from EAD V1.0 to V2.0
			by Jackie Dooley</item>
			<date>March 17, 1999</date>
			<item>1. Finding aid revised to incorporate additional
			materials acquired in December 1998, and re-encoded by Bill Landis</item>

Revision of the finding aid also may require that information in other <eadheader> elements will need to be changed. For example, inclusive dates in <titleproper> may expand, you may consider the finding aid to be a new edition if the revisions are extensive, and the creator and creation date of the encoded finding aid may need to be updated in <profiledesc>. A thorough review of the content of the <eadheader> is advisable whenever <revisiondesc> is utilized. Encoded <eadheader> example

The following is an example of a fully-encoded <eadheader> element:

	<eadheader audience="internal" langencoding="ISO 639-2"
		<eadid systemid="dlc" encodinganalog="856">loc.mss/eadmss.ms996001
				<titleproper>Shirley Jackson</titleproper>
				<subtitle>A Register of Her Papers in the Library
				of Congress</subtitle>
				<author>Prepared by Grover Batts. Revised and expanded
				by Michael McElderry with the assistance of Scott McLemee</author>
				<publisher>Manuscript Division, Library of Congress
					<addressline>Washington, D.C. 20540-4860</addressline>
					<p>Edited full draft</p>
			<creation>Finding aid encoded by Library of Congress
			Manuscript Division,
			<langusage>Finding aid written in
				<item>Encoding revised</item>

3.6.2. Title Page and Prefatory Matter <frontmatter>

Some repositories formally publish selected finding aids as monographs or other types of publication. Even if your repository does not have this practice, you may want to create a formal title page for your encoded finding aids for online presentation purposes. The element <frontmatter> is a wrapper element containing two subelements that provide publication-type structures, <titlepage> and <div>.

The <titlepage> element serves to group bibliographic details about an encoded finding aid, including <titleproper>, <subtitle>, <author>, <sponsor>, <publisher>, and <date>. Unlike many other <eadheader> elements, these elements can be applied in any order that suits your needs for formatting or order of information. In addition, <titlepage> can incorporate illustrations, institutional logos, or other graphic images. If <frontmatter> is used, the <titleproper> should match the <titleproper> used in the <eadheader> <filedesc> <titlestmt>.

The <div> element is a generic textual element that provides access to textual formatting elements such as <head>, <p>, and <list>; it can be used to encode forewords, acknowledgements, introductions, or any other type of prefatory matter.

Many EAD users have found <frontmatter> to be unnecessary, as they have instead achieved satisfactory online results by displaying to users selected elements from the <eadheader>.


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  1. The Text Encoding Initiative is an international humanities-based effort to develop a suite of DTDs for encoding literary or other scholarly texts likely to be objects of study. Information is available at: <http://www.uic.edu/orgs/tei>.

  2. For a description of how formal public identifiers for use in an SGML catalog are constructed for the American Heritage Virtual Library Project and the Online Archive of California, see Encoded Archival Description Retrospective Conversion Guidelines, available at: <http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/amher/upguide.html#VI>.

  3. It is important to note that such a title for the finding aid itself varies from the title of the archival collection that is encoded in <did><unittitle> (see section

Table of Contents
Home Page Preface Acknowledgments How to Use
This Manual
Setting EAD
in Context
Creating Finding
Aids in EAD
Authoring EAD
Publishing EAD
EAD Linking

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