apeEAD - The use of EAD in Archives Portal Europe
The most important archival standard used by the Archives Portal Europe is Encoded Archival Description (EAD), an XML standard for encoding archival finding aids, maintained by the Technical Subcommittee for Encoded Archival Standards (TS-EAS) of the Society of American Archivists (SAA). You can find general information about EAD on the standard's homepage hosted by the Library of Congress.
Background on EAD in general
The development of the EAD standard began with a project initiated by the University of California, Berkeley Library in 1993, led by Daniel Pitti. The requirements for the encoding standard then included – and still include today – the following criteria:
- ability to present extensive and interrelated descriptive information found in archival finding aids,
- ability to preserve the hierarchical relationships existing between levels of description,
- ability to represent descriptive information that is inherited by one hierarchical level from another,
- ability to move within a hierarchical informational structure,
- support for element-specific indexing and retrieval.
EAD is by now used world wide for data exchange between archival institutions and for Internet presentations of archival descriptive information. It is especially applied for trans-institutional and trans-national projects like the Archives Portal Europe.
The first version of EAD, v1.0, was published in 1998, the second version, EAD2002, was released in December 2002 and the work on the revision of EAD2002, which led to the current version, EAD3, was started in 2010 and finished in August 2015. Since the beginning of 2021, the TS-EAS of the SAA is preparing for another major revision of EAD with a new version being expected in 2024/2025.
- Go to the official EAD homepage on the website of the Library of Congress.
- Go to the official EAD2002 Tag Library to learn more about EAD2002 elements and attributes available.
- Go to the official EAD3 Tag Library to learn more about EAD3 elements and attributes available.
- Go to the SAA website for Frequently Asked Questions about EAD in general and EAD3 in particular.
- See the General International Standard Archival Description (ISAD(G) as correspondent describing standard as maintained by the International Council on Archives (ICA).
- See the new ICA standard Records in Contexts, consisting of a Conceptual Model and an Ontology.
The use of EAD in Archives Portal Europe
Archives Portal Europe uses the version EAD 2002 of the international standard. This is the version predominantly used by the Content Providers to Archives Portal Europe as their exchange format and the version that is supported in most of archival management softwares currently on the market. It also is the version that Archives Portal Europe has based its current conversion to the Europeana Data Model (EDM) on for exchange with Europeana.
In addition, Archives Portal Europe did run a trial for EAD3, the most current version of the standard, in 2017/2018 with a focus on "additional finding aids", which contain further information in relation to the records and record parts usually described in an EAD finding aid, f.i. in relation to events, persons, places, subjects, etc.. Often this information is available in a variety of formats: handwritten lists or indexes, card systems, different word processor, spreadsheet or database formats, etc., either created alongside the actual archival material itself or later on by archivists, researchers and/or volunteers.
The Working Group on Standards
Within the Archives Portal Europe Foundation (APEF), the non-profit organisation that took over the responsibility for Archives Portal Europe after the conclusion of the APEx project in October 2015, the Working Group on Standards (WGoS) is in charge of the maintenance and the further development of the Archives Portal Europe standards. Their work can be followed via GitHub and all changes to apeEAD since 2015 are documented in the apeEAD schema.