Encoded Archival Description

Authored by: Daniel Pitti , Michael Rush

Encyclopedia of Library and Information Science, Fourth Edition

Print publication date:  November  2017
Online publication date:  November  2017

Print ISBN: 9781466552593
eBook ISBN: 9781315116143
Adobe ISBN:


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Encoded Archival Description (EAD) is an international standard based on Extensible Markup Language (XML) for encoding descriptions of archival records. People living their lives as individuals, as members of families, and as members of corporate bodies create and assemble records that serve as instruments for carrying out or documenting the performance of activities. Based on the archival principles of respect des fonds (or provenance) and original order, archivists traditionally have treated all of the records created and assembled by one individual, family, or corporate body as a collection or fonds. Archivists describe records as an essential part of their responsibility for preserving and facilitating access to and use of archives. Archival description provides information essential for establishing the authenticity and completeness of fonds and serves effective administration, discovery, access, and understanding of records. Traditionally, archivists have described each fonds hierarchically in a single apparatus commonly called a finding aid. Until the advent of computing, finding aids were typically in printed form. In the 1990s, archivists created EAD, an encoding standard for archival description that made it possible to derive online and print finding aids from the same structured data. EAD is based technologically on XML and intellectually on General International Standard Archival Description (ISAD(G)), a descriptive framework developed by the International Council of Archives (ICA). The third version of the standard, EAD3, will be released in 2015 and will continue to develop in the future. Future changes to EAD will be influenced by ICA descriptive standards, in particular the conceptual model and ontology for archival description to be developed by the Experts Group on Archival Description, and related encoding standards. This entry is organized into six sections: introduction, archival records, archival description, EAD, history, and future.

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