Rare Book School

RBS Home| Course Schedule | Admissions | Support RBS | Contact RBS | Previous Years

L-80. Implementing Encoded Archival Description

Daniel Pitti

Encoded Archival Description (EAD) provides standardized machine-readable descriptive access to primary resource materials. This course is aimed at archivists, librarians, and museum personnel who would like an introduction to EAD that includes an extensive supervised hands-on component. Students will learn XML encoding techniques in part using examples selected from among their own institutions' finding aids. Other topics covered include: the context out of which EAD emerged; introduction to the use of XML authoring tools; the conversion of existing finding aids; publishing finding aids; funding sources for EAD projects; and integration of EAD into existing archival processing.

This course will introduce the application of Encoded Archival Description (EAD), Version 2002, to the encoding of archive and manuscript library finding aids. Though aimed primarily at archivists who process and describe collections in finding aids, it will also be useful to repository administrators contemplating the implementation of EAD, and to technologists working in repositories. Topics include: the history of EAD and its theoretical and technological foundations; an introduction to Extensible Markup Language (XML), including authoring and network publishing tools; the structure and semantics of EAD; use of software tools to create and publish finding aids; conversion techniques and methodologies, and templates for the creation of new finding aids; and the integration and management of EAD in an archive or library.

The class will jointly encode and publish a finding aid that will illustrate a wide variety of essential EAD and XML concepts. Students will also encode one of their own finding aids.

Applicants must have a basic knowledge of archival descriptive practices as well as experience using word-processing software with a graphical user interface. Some experience with the World Wide Web and HTML will aid the learning process. In their personal statement, applicants should indicate their relevant archival background, the extent of their previous experience with computers in general and graphical user interfaces and EAD in particular, and describe their role (present or future) in the implementation of EAD in their home institution.

Course Resources

  • Preliminary Reading List
  • Evaluations for this course:

Course History


Daniel Pitti has taught this course since 1997, usually twice annually.