EAD (Encoded Archival Description, Version 2002 Official Site)

Encoded Archival Description Tag Library, Version 2002


The Society of American Archivists Encoded Archival Description Working Group(1) is pleased to bring you EAD 2002, the second full version of the encoding standard for archival finding aids. This version represents a truly international collaboration in the continued development and maintenance of EAD.

In 2000 the International Council on Archives Committee on Descriptive Standards published the second edition of the General International Standard Archival Description (ISAD(G)). One of the guiding principles of EAD is to maintain compatibility with ISAD(G). Many of the suggestions submitted to the Working Group in late 2000 and early 2001 reflected changes needed to maintain that compatibility; they have been accommodated in this version through the addition of new elements and/or attributes or through clarification of existing element and attribute definitions. Experimentation with EAD internationally, particularly recent tests in France and Germany, has shown that EAD is applicable to a variety of descriptive practices but also has indicated the need for structural changes. Some of the more significant changes are as follows:

There are two new elements in the Descriptive Identification of the Unit <did>: Language of the Material <langmaterial>, and Material Specific Details <materialspec>. Replacing the LANGMATERIAL attribute in <archdesc> and <c>, the <langmaterial> element makes it possible to provide intelligible information about language(s) to the end user. Information such as scale for technical drawings and maps and playing time for sound recordings can be expressed in <materialspec>, expanding EAD's applicability beyond "traditional" archival materials.

Archival Description <archdesc> (and therefore all components) also has some new elements. Location of Originals <originalsloc> parallels the originals/copies aspect of Alternative Form Available <altformavail>. Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements <phystech> accommodates the new ISAD(G) rule 3.4.4, and indicates whether there are unusual physical aspects or if special equipment is needed to access the materials. Legal Status <legalstatus>, a new subelement of <accessrestrict>, replaces the former LEGALSTATUS attribute on <archdesc>.

A new subelement in the <profiledesc> header element, Descriptive Rules <descrules>, accommodates the new ISAD(G) element 3.7.2 to provide the descriptive code used to create the finding aid.

Structural changes have also been implemented in EAD 2002. Administrative Information <admininfo> and Adjunct Descriptive Data <add> have been "unbundled," i.e., the elements that were formerly nested within these two elements are now available directly in <archdesc> and <c>. While they provided a useful grouping tool at the highest level of description, frequently the need to open, for example, <admininfo> to use <accessrestrict> at the component level simply created tagging overhead. It should be noted that the use of <admininfo> and <add> is being deprecated by the Working Group (see Appendix B). This means that the Working Group recommends discontinuing their use because this structure will be eliminated in a future version of EAD. To facilitate grouping of elements on an as-needed basis, another new <archdesc> element has been created, Description Group <descgrp>. <descgrp> can be used to bundle most of the structural elements (except <did> and <dsc>), enabling archivists to group them logically at a given level of description.

EAD 2002 presents a host of new attributes, and most of the semi-closed lists of attribute values have been eliminated. In most cases, the semi-closed lists were very Anglo-centric and inhibited international adoption of EAD (e.g., the list of controlled vocabulary thesauri for the SOURCE attribute). It will now be the responsibility of individual repositories to use consistently the code lists and terminology recommended by national practices.

Finally, archivists persuasively articulated the need for certain elements and attributes in places where they weren't available in EAD version 1.0. As a result, <title> is now available in <indexentry>, and "singlequote" and "doublequote" have been added as values for the RENDER attribute, in addition to other improvements.

The Working Group gratefully acknowledges all who took the time to contribute to this version of EAD. EAD is stronger for your attention and interest! In addition, we extend our deep appreciation to the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, which has provided funding to support Working Group meetings.

Like many efforts of its kind, most of the work of bringing EAD 2002 to fruition was shouldered by a small group of dedicated souls. I'd like to extend my personal thanks to Daniel Pitti at the University of Virginia for once again revising the DTD (and revising... and revising...), to Michael Fox of the Minnesota Historical Society for writing definitions of new elements and attributes and for drafting a conversion script and testing the new DTD, to Tim Hutchinson of the University of Saskatchewan for careful proofreading, and to Merrilee Proffitt of the Research Libraries Group and Bill Landis of the University of California at Irvine for gathering and parsing the examples.

Kris Kiesling
Chair, EAD Working Group


1 - At the time of this revision members of the Working Group were: Randall Barry (Library of Congress Network Development and MARC Standards Office), Catherine Dhérent (Archives de France), Michael Fox (Minnesota Historical Society), Tim Hutchinson (University of Saskatchewan), Kris Kiesling (University of Texas at Austin), William Landis (University of California, Irvine), Gavan McCarthy (University of Melbourne), Daniel Pitti (University of Virginia), Merrilee Proffitt (Research Libraries Group, ex officio), Lydia Reid (National Archives and Records Administration), and Meg Sweet (Public Record Office).