EAD Tag Library for Version 1.0

EAD Design Principles

Encoded Archival Description: Principles and Criteria for an SGML Document Type Definition (DTD) for Finding Aids. Adopted July 1995, revised November 1997.(5)

This document defines principles and criteria for designing, developing, and maintaining an SGML-based encoding scheme for archive and library finding aids.

Definitions and Parameters

1. Although the term "finding aid" traditionally encompasses a wide variety of tools to describe, control, and provide access to archives and manuscript collections, this encoding standard is primarily intended for a particular type of document known as inventories and registers. Its design, however, does not preclude further development to accommodate other types of finding aids, such as repository guides, or the development of ancillary encoding standards to accommodate archival authority information based on the International Standard Archival Authority Record for Corporate Bodies, Persons, and Families (ISAAR(CF)).

2. The standard accommodates registers and inventories of any length describing the full range of archival holdings, including textual and electronic documents, visual materials, and sound recordings.

3. The encoding standard permits both the creation of new finding aids and the conversion of existing ones from print, word processing, and database formats. While conversion of existing guides may require minor revisions in content or rearrangement of information, the need for extensive editing has been minimized.

General Principles

4. The information in finding aids describes, controls, and provides access to other information, and thus is not an end in itself. Finding aids are not objects of study but rather tools leading to such objects.

5. Although the encoding scheme does not define or prescribe intellectual content for finding aids, it does define content designation and is intended to be used with available data content standards such as the General International Standard Archival Description (ISAD(G)). It identifies the essential data elements within finding aids and establishes codes and conventions necessary for capturing and distinguishing information within those elements for future action or manipulation. While there are certain elements that ought to appear in any finding aid, various intellectual and economic factors influence the depth and detail of analysis employed. Taking this into consideration, the encoding scheme is designed with a minimum of required elements, but allows for progressively more detailed and specific levels of description as desired.

6. The standard preserves and enhances the current functionality of existing registers and inventories. It identifies and provides markup for finding aid structures and content that support the following functions: description, control, navigation, indexing, and online and print presentation. If a structure does not support one of these functions, then specific markup for it is not provided. The terms "description" and "control" refer not only to original source materials but also to digital representations and surrogates.

7. The standard is intended to facilitate interchange and portability of descriptive tools. It will increase the intelligibility of finding aids within and across institutions, permit the sharing of identical data in two or more finding aids, assist in the creation of union databases, and permit the reuse of the encoded data for multiple output purposes. It will also ensure that machine-readable finding aids will endure changing hardware and software platforms because they will be based on a platform-independent standard.

8. The needs of public users, curatorial and reference staff, and finding aid authors were given priority in the standard's design, with the result that any burden of implementation will be assumed by those users most able to shoulder the responsibility, namely DTD developers, stylesheet authors, and technical staff in support of other applications. The designers sought to create a DTD that can be easily mastered and incorporated into routine finding aid production by staff possessing a basic knowledge of SGML.

Structural Features

9. The encoding scheme is based on Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML: ISO 8879) in the form of a Document Type Definition (DTD), hereafter referred to as the "Encoded Archival Description" or "EAD" DTD.

10. Related or complementary standards, such as the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) Guidelines for Electronic Text Encoding and Interchange, the MARC formats, and the International Standard for Archival Authority Records (ISAAR(CF)), will be consulted and employed as appropriate. The data model includes a finding aid header which is similar to the TEI header, and TEI naming conventions and tag structures will be utilized whenever feasible. With respect to MARC, the encoding standard recognizes the interrelationship between the data content of catalog records, authority records, and finding aids, and it provides for the use of a MARC equivalency attribute for finding aid elements matching MARC fields.

11. The encoding standard consists of three parts: an SGML-compliant DTD; a tag library containing definitions of the elements and attributes, and examples of tag use; and application guidelines.

12. To ensure broad international application of the standard, neutral language was used in building the data model. For element names, words such as "collection," "archives," "series," "fonds," etc. were replaced with generic terms like "unit" and "component" that are not specific to any individual setting or institution. Extensive use of attributes in the DTD permits the refinement of element meanings within a specific national or institutional context.

Control and Maintenance

13. Control and maintenance of the DTD will be provided by a maintenance agency working in concert with the national and international archival communities, and assisted in an advisory capacity by other interested groups of users.

5. Revision of the "Ann Arbor Accords: Principles and Criteria for an SGML Document Type Definition (DTD) for Finding Aids," as originally drafted by the Bentley Fellowship Finding Aids Team in 1995 and revised by the Society of American Archivists' EAD Working Group, November 1997.

Table of Contents
Acknowledgments Introduction EAD Design
Overview of
EAD Structure
Tag Library
EAD Attributes EAD Elements
by Tag Name
Index of
EAD Element Names

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