Report to SAA Council on the EAD Working Group

This report will bring Council up to date on Working Group activities for the last year or so.


The ten-member WG has four members from outside the US, representing Canada, the UK, Australia, and France. Canadian and UK representatives have been in place since 1995-6, and the Australian and French representatives were added in 2000. The WG also has ex officio members from RLG and OCLC. International representation on the WG has had a major impact on revisions to EAD (see under Revision), particularly in the last go-round. The WG will welcome international representatives from countries that demonstrate an effort to implement EAD in a number of repositories. For the next year, however, we are somewhat constrained by the travel support we can provide for attendance at EADWG meetings (see under Funding).

The ICA Committee on Descriptive Standards has a liaison to the EADWG to allow it to maintain contact with EAD developments. EAD is (and will remain) ISAD(G) compliant, so we want this relationship with ICA to continue.

WG members have been involved in a number of international EAD initiatives. CLIR has co-sponsored two meetings of German and US archivists to foster a better understanding of the similarities and differences between archival description traditions in the two countries, and to assist the Germans in understanding and perhaps using EAD. These meetings have been extremely beneficial on both sides, and a joint paper is planned. In addition, WG members have given seminars and papers for: the

Association of Archivists of Catalonia, the Stage Technique of the Archives de France, the sixth Kolloquium of the Archivschule Marburg, the PRO's EAD User's Day, the South African Society of Archivists, The Book Trade Archives conference in The Hague, and the Archive vor der Globalisierung conference in Düsseldorf, and have consulted on projects in Australia and Germany.

The EAD documentation, the Tag Library and the Application Guidelines, have been translated into Spanish under the auspices of the Fundación Histórica Tavera with financial support from CLIR. The translations are being provided free of charge to institutions in Spanish-speaking countries. In addition, French archivists are well along in their translation efforts.


EAD is not a static standard, but must keep up with changing technologies and accommodate a broad range of descriptive practices. At the end of calendar 2000 the WG solicited suggestions for changes to the DTD. The WG met April 27-29, 2001, to discuss the 67 change submissions that were received from the archival community. Of the submissions, 46 came from outside the US, many related to bringing EAD in line with the new edition of ISAD(G). The Group decided on some significant structural changes that will better accommodate variant international descriptive practices. The new version of EAD, to be called EAD 2002, will be available toward the end of the calendar year, along with new print and online versions of the Tag Library, and scripts to enable conversion from the old version of EAD to the new.


Since SAA took over the EAD workshop curriculum from RLG in 1997 the workshop has been presented 29 times, with three more sessions scheduled before the end of the year. The workshop has been held in 20 of the 50 states, from New Hampshire to Hawaii and Georgia to Washington, as well as in Canada, Ireland, England, Australia, and France. The curriculum is in a persistent state of revision to reflect changing technologies and implement suggestions made in participant evaluations. A major overhaul will take place when EAD 2002 is released. SAA's Education Directors have expressed interest in developing an introductory course that is even more basic than the current one, as well as an advanced workshop that perhaps focuses on style sheets.

The week-long EAD workshop offered by the University of Virginia Rare Book School is now offered three times a year. The Public Record Office has developed its own EAD training program.


The current NHPRC grant supports WG activities through June 2002, so it is time to start planning the next proposal, whether again to NHPRC or to NEH, IMLS, or some other source. A persistent stream of support would be highly desirable. Assuming that SAA wants to continue to support EAD (and benefit from it), and if the CUSTARD project is successful, it will be necessary to maintain the two standards in tandem. And, in the latter case, it will be necessary to work more closely with our Canadian colleagues, which will also require some financial support.



Kris Kiesling


July 2001