Ann Arbor Accords: Principles and Criteria for an SGML
Document Type Definition (DTD) for Finding Aids
This document defines principles and criteria for designing,
developing, and maintaining an SGML-based encoding scheme
for archive and library finding aids.
Definitions and Parameters
- Although the term finding aid traditionally encompasses a
wide variety of tools to describe, control, and provide access to
archives and manuscript collections, this encoding standard is
primarily for inventories and registers. Its design, however, does
not preclude further development to accommodate other types of
finding aids, such as repository guides.
- The standard accommodates registers and inventories of any
length describing the full range of archival holdings, including
textual and electronic documents, visual materials, and sound
- The encoding standard permits both the creation of new
finding aids and the conversion of existing ones from print, word
processing, and database formats. While conversion of existing
guides may require minor revisions in content or rearrangement
of information, the need for extensive editing has been mini-
- The information in finding aids describes, controls, and
provides access to other information, and thus is not an end in
itself. Finding aids are not objects of study but rather tools
leading to such objects.
- Although the encoding scheme does not define or prescribe
intellectual content for finding aids, it does define content
designation. It identifies the essential data elements within finding
aids and establishes codes and conventions necessary for capturing
and distinguishing information within those elements for future
action or manipulation. While there are certain elements that
ought to appear in any finding aid, various intellectual and economic
factors influence the depth and detail of analysis employed.
Taking this into consideration, the encoding scheme is designed
with a minimum of required elements, but allows for progressively
more detailed and specific levels of description as desired.
- The standard preserves and enhances the current functionality
of existing registers and inventories. It identifies and provides
markup for finding aid components that support the following
functions: description, control, navigation, indexing, and online
and print presentation. If an identifiable component does not
support one of these functions, then specific markup for it is not
provided. The terms description and control refer not only to
original source materials but also to digital representations and
- The standard is intended to facilitate interchange and portability.
It will increase the intelligibility of finding aids within and
across institutions, permit the sharing of identical data in two or
more finding aids, and assist in the creation of union databases.
It will also ensure that machine-readable finding aids will endure
changing hardware and software platforms because they will be
based on a platform-independent standard.
- The needs of public users, curatorial and reference staff, and
finding aid authors were given priority in the standard's design,
with the result that any burden of implementation will be assumed
by those users most able to shoulder the responsibility, namely
DTD developers, style-sheet authors, and technical staff in support
of other applications. The designers sought to create a DTD
that can be easily mastered and incorporated into routine finding
aid production by staff possessing only a minimal knowledge of
- The encoding scheme is based on Standard Generalized
Markup Language (SGML: ISO 8879) in the form of a document
type definition (DTD), hereafter referred to as the "Encoded
Archival Description" or "EAD" DTD.
- lated or complementary standards, such as the Text Encoding
Initiative (TEI) Guidelines for Electronic Text Encoding
and Interchange and the USMARC formats, will be consulted and
employed as appropriate. The data model includes a finding aid
header which is similar to the TEI header, and TEI naming
conventions and tag structures will be utilized whenever feasible.
With respect to USMARC, the encoding standard recognizes the
interrelationship between catalog records and finding aids, and it
provides for the use of a MARC equivalency attribute for those
finding aid elements matching USMARC fields.
- The encoding standard consists of two parts: an
SGML-compliant DTD and detailed application guidelines containing
extensive examples of encoded finding aids.
- To ensure broad application of the standard, neutral language
was used in building the data model. Words such as collection,
archives, series, fonds, etc. were replaced with generic terms like
unit and component that are not specific to any individual setting
Control and Maintenance
- Control and maintenance of the DTD will be provided by a
national institution working in concert with the national and
international archival communities and assisted in an advisory
capacity by other interested groups of users.
1996. All rights reserved.
Document maintained at http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/FindingAids/
by the SunSITE Manager.
Last update 1/8/95. SunSITE Manager: