My experience is that EAD does not accommodate indexes created prior to ead very well, if at all.

For record groups or collections to which we had a holdings-specific index but no inventory, such as: and , we managed to derive inventories of sorts, and add the index text to the document, although such indexes cannot be <index> in EAD because they do not make reference to a specific part of an inventory.  I  think with Lowell (hua03003) we ended up using <c> even though these are not really components.

We have a different situation, however, with a card index that indexes persons and topics across a number of record groups of University records up to 1850.  Is this latter scenario the one you are asking about?  I have not attempted to encode this.  The cards are handwritten and thus do not lend themselves easily to low-cost transcription, although I would very much like to have them transcribed.  I suspect I would either not use EAD or use some very unorthodox EAD encoding for this data.


At 08:37 AM 6/11/2008 +0200, Gijsbert Kruithof wrote:

Apart from our finding aids in EAD the National Archive in the Netherlands also has about 300 indexes, cardboxes and databases. They contain information about persons and places and other content not specifically described in the inventories. Some databases contain more than 100.000 items on which information can be found in an archive. (See for instance
Because of their size and complexity these indexes and databases are difficult to incorporate in the EAD inventories. Maybe we are confronted here with the limitations of EAD as an XML file format ...

Does anyone has experience in dealing with these 'finding aid databases'?

We plan to create a Database Management System containing all the databases. This DBMS will be complementary to the EAD inventories and contain links to the inventorynumbers.
But maybe there are other options. We would be very interested.

We would especially like to know if someone has experience setting up such a system with regard to:
- functionality for staff and volunteers
- choice of DBMS and software: MySQL/PHP or SQL-server/ASP or something else
- datamodel
- linking functionality to EAD inventories
- digitizing typoscript cards from cardboxes

We appreciate all suggestions

Gijsbert Kruithof
Senior archivist
Nationaal Archief
The Netherlands

Kate Bowers
Collection Services Archivist
Harvard University Archives
Cambridge, MA 02138
voice:  (617) 495-2461
fax:    (617) 495-8011
email:  [log in to unmask]