The Universe at Your Fingertips

The University of California Encoded Archival Description Project (UC-EAD)

Charlotte B. Brown
UC-EAD Project Manager, Assistant Head for Special Collections and University Archivist
University of California, Los Angeles

David C. Tambo
Head, Special Collections
University of California, Santa Barbara

Copyright 1997, Charlotte B. Brown and David C. Tambo. Used with permission.


The Encoded Archival Description (EAD), developed by a research and development team at the University of California, Berkeley, is emerging as the national standard for the encoding of archival finding aids in electronic format. The University of California EAD Project (UC-EAD) is:
  1. developing an implementation toolkit to facilitate and standardize EAD implementation throughout the nine University of California campuses;
  2. building a union database of the encoded finding aids;
  3. creating a broad-based University of California constituency to test, evaluate, and establish the EAD as the foundation of the UC digital library for archival materials.
The UC-EAD Project, a two year effort, commenced in October 1996 when the nine University of California campuses received preliminary funding from the UC Office of the President. Though the UC project is only at the four month mark (as of January 1997), the project's methodology and products are based upon work carried out by the 1993-1995 Berkeley Finding Aid Project and subsequently carried out by the Society of American Archivists (SAA), the Research Libraries Group (RLG), the Council on Library Resources (CLR) and individual archival repositories at Duke University, the University of Virginia, Stanford University, and Yale University, to name a few.

The UC-EAD utilizes Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML) as defined in a document type definition (DTD) for archival finding aids.

What makes the UC-EAD project unique among past and ongoing EAD efforts is the establishment of a union database of finding aids, finding aids that are presented in a consistent format and keyword searchable across repositories.

To state the obvious: the public service implications for facilitated intellectual access to primary source archival and manuscript materials located in the nine UC repositories will be substantial. The impact that the UC-EAD will have upon scholarly communication, given the richness and significance of the primary source holdings administered by the UC repositories, is another consideration.

The intended audience:

Brian Schottlaender and Charlotte B. Brown's presentation will consist of:
  1. a short review of the history and background of the UC-EAD project;
  2. a definition and website examples of archival and manuscript collection finding aids;
  3. a short layperson's explanation of SGML encoding and the rationale for its application to this project;
  4. a demonstration of the standardized format of the UC-EAD finding aids mounted on the UC website, and finally
  5. a discussion (using finding aids as examples) of the public services & collection development implications of the UC-EAD project.
We will leave time for questions and reactions from the audience.


  1. Introduction of speakers [BS, DT, CBB - do self intros]
  2. Definition of general terms/functions and examples:
  3. Overview of the history and background of the UC-EAD Project [BS]
  4. Recapitulation of the definition and contents of a f.a.; website examples of f.a.'s [DT & CBB]
  5. layperson's explanation of SGML encoding and the rationale for SGML application to the UC-EAD; [BS]
  6. demonstration of the standardized format for UC-EAD finding aids on the UC website; [CBB]
  7. implications for this project:
  8. questions from audience

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