Data Creation

Linking to digital content

Archives Hub descriptions can include electronic representations of the described materials, known as digital archival objects.

Representations may be:

  • digital surrogates of paper-based archives
  • objects that are part of the described materials, e.g. images that are born-digital

Digital archival objects may be:

  • images
  • files
  • audio resources

We have enabled this by the use of the <dao> tag and related EAD elements. <dao> stands for digital archival object, and it is a linking element that connects the description to the content of the archive, or to selected examples of the content.

Please note that this method should not be used for linking to external objects, which are not part of the materials being described. For this, please use the <extref> tag.

Options for Digital Objects

We provide four options for adding digital archival objects:

  • single digital images
  • single files (e.g. PDF documents, audio and visual resources)
  • thumbnail images (jpg, gif or png) that link to larger images
  • single conceptual objects with multiple digital surrogates.

The Archives Hub cannot support the inclusion of digital objects within all contexts that the tag library and/or schema allow, as the scope is too broad to enable practical implementation in all possible scenarios, therefore these tags will be supported as specified in our implementation table (link).

Displaying objects at collection level and lower-levels

Digital objects can be displayed either at collection level or component level (series, file, item). Item-level descriptions are particularly appropriate, as images and files can then be added at the individual level. You may wish to add lower-level descriptions to your collection-level descriptions already on the Hub and include images or links to other digital objects.

Location of Digital Objects

The Archives Hub will provide the means to link to the content, but will not actually hold the content, which must be available for the Hub to link to via a URL (web address). It is therefore important to ensure that the URL provided for the content is persistent.


It is the responsibility of the Hub contributor to ensure that they have permission to make images and other objects publicly available over the Internet.

digital image