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EAD  March 1998

EAD March 1998

Subject:

Re: Use of <physloc> and <container>: remaining questions

From:

"Fox, Michael" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Encoded Archival Description List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Tue, 10 Mar 1998 08:26:02 -0600

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (294 lines)

Leslie Morris asks a very important question.  How to encode the
following example.

Example A:

>                File List
>Box 1
>        1.  [Adams, 1934]
>        2.  Albany Literary Gazette [1934]
>        3.  Alden
>        4.  American Council
>Box 2
>        5.  American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Reporter [1934]
>        6.  Amesbury Villager [1934-36]

     This issue is extremely important because it goes directly to a
fundamental structural concept in EAD.   There is an inherent tension in
container listings between hierarchies of intellectual order
(collection, series, file, item) and hierarchies of physical
organization (boxes and folders).   This topic was extensively analyzed
during the developement of EAD, has been the topic of numerous
communications on this list, is raised at every EAD workshop, and, I
hasten to convey to Leslie, was carefully reconsidered by the EAD
Working Group during its meeting last Fall when changes to the DTD for
version one were considered.

     In having to chose between the two, EAD has priviledged
intellectual structure over the physical for many good reasons that need
not be rehashed here.  But that is not to suggest that there is no
relationship between the two.   Box and folder numbers are, after all,
characteristics of a particular file just as the title and date are.
>Harvard's desire to be able to insert container numbers AT ANY POINT WITHIN
THE FINDING AID suggests that this data is just some sort free-floating,
disembodied information that has no structural relationship to the rest
of the inventory description.   This is not correct.  Container data
relates precisely and significantly to other descriptive data.  In fact,
such container information makes no sense at all except in relation to
other descriptive elements.

Consider this recasting of Leslie's sample.

Example B:

Container        Id                    Contents
>Box 1       1             Adams
>Box 1       2             Albany Literary Gazette
>Box 1       3             Alden
>Box 1       4             American Council
      Box 2       5             American and Foreign Anti-Slavery
Reporter
      Box 2       6             Amesbury Villager


    There are two differences between examples A and B.  One has to do
with presentation on the page.  The other is more interesting and
significant.  In example A, the researcher is asked to infer that Adam
and what follows is in Box 1 until one comes to another implicit
statement that what follows after American Council is in Box 2.     The
structural relationship between the box number and the ID and title data
that follows is exactly the same in both examples.  Except that in one
it is implicit and in the other it is spelled out.   The only real
difference is in presentation.  This is what EAD is about- content and
structure, not presentation.

    Inventories are full of examples of such implicit inheritence.

Example C:

     Correspondence
           1900-1910
           1911-1915
           1916-1920

     Subject Files
           1911-1912
           1913-1917
           1918-1920

This really means the same as

Example D:

Correspondence, 1900-1910
Correspondence, 1911-1915
Correspondence, 1916-1920
Subject Files, 1911-1912
Subject Files, 1913-1917
Subject Files, 1918-1920

      There is a fundamental, structural relationship between the
<container> element and other descriptive data such as <unittitle>.
Page presentation tends to mask that association, but it is there.   In
our discussions about encoding here at the Minnesota Historical Society,
most of our problems have been in analyzing and understanding legacy
finding aids, in sorting out the kinds of implicit understandings that
we have tried to convey to the user through what are to us very obvious
but what must be to others often very subtle distinctions about the
relationships of different materials based on physical evidence on the
finding aid page.

      Finally, let me respond by offering two examples of encoding of
Leslie's example.   The first was written by Kris Kiesling.

Example E:

<dsc TYPE="in-depth">
<head>File List</head>

<c LEVEL="file"><did><container>Box 1</container>
<unitid>1.</unitid><unittitle>[Adams, 1934]</unittitle></did></c>

<c LEVEL="file"><did><unitid>2.</unitid><unittitle>Albany Literary
Gazette
[1934]</unittitle></did></c>

<c
LEVEL="file"><did><unitid>3.</unitid><unittitle>Alden</unittitle></did><
/c>

<c LEVEL="file"><did><unitid>4.</unitid><unittitle>American
Council</unittitle></did></c>

<c LEVEL="file"><did><container>Box 2</container><unitid>5.</unitid>
<unittitle>American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Reporter
[1934]</unittitle></did></c>

<c LEVEL="file"><did><unitid>6.</unitid>
<unittitle>Amesbury Villager [1934-36]</unittitle></did></c>

<c LEVEL="file"><did><unitid>7.</unitid><unittitle>etc.
etc.</unittitle></did></c>

Here's another option that some people who have attended our workshops
seem to like.
 Example F:

<dsc TYPE="in-depth">
<head>File List</head>

<c LEVEL="file"><did><container>Box 1</container>
<unitid>1.</unitid><unittitle>[Adams, 1934]</unittitle></did></c>

<c LEVEL="file"><did><container>Box 1</container>
<unitid>2.</unitid><unittitle>Albany Literary Gazette
[1934]</unittitle></did></c>

<c LEVEL="file"><did><container>Box 1</container>
<unitid>3.</unitid><unittitle>Alden</unittitle></did></c>

<c LEVEL="file"><did><container>Box 1</container>
<unitid>4.</unitid><unittitle>American
Council</unittitle></did></c>

<c LEVEL="file"><did><container>Box 2</container><unitid>5.</unitid>
<unittitle>American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Reporter
[1934]</unittitle></did></c>

<c LEVEL="file"><did><container>Box 2</container><unitid>6.</unitid>
<unittitle>Amesbury Villager [1934-36]</unittitle></did></c>

<c LEVEL="file"><did><container>Box
2</container><unitid>7.</unitid><unittitle>etc.
etc.</unittitle></did></c>

The reason for the explicit markup of container numbers in Exaple F has
to do with an anticipation of issues that might arise with retrieval and
display of the inventory.   If a search finds a match in the item
"Amesbury Villager," the system can retireve the necessary descriptive
data from the <c> that wraps up that item's information except for its
location which it inherits implicitly in examples A and E from a
sibling.  This is very different from examples C and D where the dates
inherit data from their explicitly encoded parents.

     Now some of the new linking aspects of version 1.0 of EAD will make
it possible to make the connections in Examples A and E with a bit of
encoding and programming, but it seems to many to be clearer to
explicitly code the information even if one uses the stylesheet to
suppress the actual display of all but the first instance.   Of course,
if one were to make containers free-floating and unconnected to the item
descriptions as Harvard's proposal would do, would make it impossible to
pull this information together at all.

Michael Fox





Michael Fox
Head of Processing
Minnesota Historical Society
345 Kellogg Blvd West
St. Paul MN 55102-1906
phone: 612-296-1014
fax:  612-296-9961
[log in to unmask]

>----------
>From:  Leslie A. Morris[SMTP:[log in to unmask]]
>Sent:  Monday, March 09, 1998 1:17 PM
>To:    Multiple recipients of list EAD
>Subject:       Use of <physloc> and <container>: remaining questions
>
>Last fall, as part of the Harvard/Radcliffe Digital Finding Aids Project's
>suggested revisions to EAD beta, we submitted a request that <unitloc> be
>valid at any point within the finding aid.  While the abolition of
><unitloc> in favor of two tags, <physloc> and <container>,
>partially addresses concerns raised about the meaning of the tag, it did
>not address our particular problem, which was our desire to be able to use
>one of these tags *AT ANY POINT WITHIN THE FINDING AID*.
>
>In a finding aid, physical location (such as box, i.e. <container>) may
>change within the intellectual unit being described.  In many finding
>aids, we have folder lists arranged alphabetically or chronologically,
>into which are inserted box numbers.  The boxes are not part of the
>intellectual arrangement, but merely necessary for retrieval.  We could
>not use <unitloc> earlier, because we could not validate our documents.
>We cannot use either <physloc> or <container> now, because still when we
>attempt to use these tags where it seems appropriate to us, the document
>will not validate.
>
>Here's the basic list:
>
>                File List
>Box 1
>        1.  [Adams, 1934]
>        2.  Albany Literary Gazette [1934]
>        3.  Alden
>        4.  American Council
>Box 2
>        5.  American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Reporter [1934]
>        6.  Amesbury Villager [1934-36]
>        7.  etc., etc.
>
>To give an example of what we believe SHOULD be done logically:
>
><DSC TYPE="IN-DEPTH">
><HEAD>File List</HEAD>
><container>Box 1</container>
>
><C LEVEL="FILE"><UNITID>1.  </UNITID><UNITTITLE>[Adams
>1934]</UNITTITLE></C>
><C LEVEL="FILE"><UNITID>2.  </UNITID><UNITTITLE>Albany Literary Gazette
>[1934]</UNITTITLE></C>
><C LEVEL="FILE"><UNITID>3.  </UNITID><UNITTITLE>Alden</UNITTITLE></C>
><C LEVEL="FILE"><UNITID>4.  </UNITID><UNITTITLE>American
>Council</UNITTITLE></C>
>
><container>Box 2</container>
>
><C LEVEL="FILE"><UNITID>5.  </UNITID><UNITTITLE>American and
>ForeignAnti-Slavery Reporter [1934]</TITLE></UNITTITLE></C>
><C LEVEL="FILE"><UNITID>6.  </UNITID><UNITTITLE>Amesbury
>Villager[1934-36]</UNITTITLE></C>
><C LEVEL="FILE"><UNITID>7.  </UNITID><UNITTITLE>Et
>cetera...</UNITITLE></C>
></DSC>
>
>Currently, in order to validate, we have to put each box into a
>separate <C> so that the box number can go into <ODD>.  Example:
>
><DSC TYPE="INDEPTH">
><HEAD>File List</HEAD>
><C><DID><ODD><P>Box 1</P></ODD></DID></C>
>
><C LEVEL="FILE"><UNITID>1.  </UNITID><UNITTITLE>[Adams
>1934]</UNITTITLE></C>
><C LEVEL="FILE"><UNITID>2.  </UNITID><UNITTITLE>Albany Literary Gazette
>[1934]</UNITTITLE></C>
>        ETC.ETC.
>
>This seems contrary to the appropriate use of the <C> element, which
>should be marking up intellectual order.  Since both <container> and
><physloc> are obviously incidental to the intellectual order in many
>instances, why can't we use them at any point within the finding aid?
>
>Could the members of the EAD Advisory Group please tell us why our request
>was not approved, and what the suggested "work-around" should be, as they
>did with many of the other rejected changes?  We apologize if we seem to
>be flogging a dead horse, but this situation recurs over and over again in
>our finding aids, and we are anxious to get it as "right" as possible the
>first time around!
>
>*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*
>Leslie A. Morris
>Curator of Manuscripts in the Harvard College Library
>Houghton Library, Harvard University
>Cambridge, MA 02138
>
>e-mail: [log in to unmask] phone:  617.495.2449 fax:
>617.495.1376 http://hcl.harvard.edu/houghton/mss/
>*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*
>

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