The Archives Hub stores all its archival descriptions in an electronic format called Encoded Archival Description (EAD).

Why EAD?

EAD is ideal for sharing information about your collections.  EAD is an international standard, firmly based on other international standards, which means that EAD descriptions are well suited to data exchange, interoperability, and digital preservation. 

Your EAD description can be converted into a webpage, PDF file, or other kinds of documents.  Information from your description can be imported into or exported from many kinds of databases.

And the intelligent, hierarchical structure of EAD descriptions means that they lend themselves to sophisticated search-and-retrieval processes.

What is EAD?

EAD is an international standard developed by Society of American Archivists and the US Library of Congress.  EAD maps closely onto the International Standard for Archival Description ISAD(G).

EAD uses 'mark-up' or ‘tags’ to distinguish the different parts of a finding aid, in a way that can be interpreted and processed by different computer systems.

The EAD Document Type Definition (DTD) and the EAD Schema provide a set of rules for the mark-up of highly structured, hierarchically-organised information by using ‘elements’ and their sets of tags.

EAD documents are in XML format.  XML is ‘Extensible Mark-up Language’, an international standard used for creating many types of electronic documents and designed for the electronic exchange of information.

What is markup?

Markup ‘tags’ are short pieces of text wrapped in pairs around the content of EAD elements, most of which correspond to ISAD(G) fields.  These tags are processing instructions for electronic systems.

For example, this first paragraph of a Scope and Content element would be marked-up like this:

<scopecontent><p>There are various personal papers of the family c1860-1951, including personal correspondence.</p></scopecontent>

How do you create an EAD description?

EAD descriptions are really just text files, because EAD uses the XML standard for electronic documents.  So that means EAD can be created or edited in an ordinary text editor.  But it is much easier to work with the Archives Hub's online EAD Editor, or to use XML editing software.

The Archives Hub EAD Editor

The Archives Hub's EAD Editor provides an online template to create, edit, and view EAD descriptions. This requires only minimal knowledge of EAD tags and attributes. You just fill in the text boxes, or select extra text boxes by using a right-click menu.

XML software

You may like to use a generic XML Editor to create your EAD descriptions.

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