While not wishing to get into a prolonged discussion about the future of archival description that manages relationships in a more efficient and sophisticated manner, which I fully support, I believe that much more work needs to be done to get us there.  We need to articulate how such a descriptive environment would work, develop systems that support a more relational model, create formal ontologies that express such relationships, articulate how this model might replace/overlay/supplement what we have done with EAD for the past 17 years, and finally to promote this very different approach to archival description and explain to the community why we should expend the resources required to make this shift.

It is my opinion that all this can and should and will be done but that we are not there yet. This is why the <relation> element in EAD3 is being characterized as "experimental" and not part of the "base" EAD3 schema.  

As a technical matter, citing the availability of the attributes @role, @href  and @relationtype  as reasons why <relation> would be more powerful than <relatedmaterial> for creating links to other resources is an overstatement.

An example earlier in this thread uses a <ref> element within <relatedmaterial> as a way to create a link to related material.  <ref> already contains both the @role and @href and I would argue that "related materials" is a more informative expression of the relationship involved than relationtype="resourcerelation." 

Documenting relationships is the right way to go, but much more work will be required to get us there.  Some of it is already underway.  I challenge the descriptive community to pay attention, get involved, and contribute to the process.

Michael Fox  

On Tue, Dec 17, 2013 at 5:56 AM, Victoria Peters <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

Hi Michele


Well, first of all, if I’ve understood EAD3 right, <relations> gives you a few more options to specify the relation than <relatedmaterial> eg it has @arcrole, @relationtype and @href which <relatedmaterial> does not.


Also, as a general principle (I’m coming at it from an EAC-CPF perspective), I think it’s better to record any links with related resources as well as corporate bodies, persons and families or functions outside the main body of the archive description. Doing this gives you the potential at least to develop more dynamic descriptive systems in the future. As already mentioned, <relatedmaterial> is a representation of an element in ISAD(G).  And ISAD(G) was created some time ago now and designed to fit all the elements of description in a single representation. Things have, of course, moved on since then and we now have ISAAR(CPF) and EAC-CPF and ISDF and hopefully EAC-F too soon. These developments have given us the potential to begin to develop more dynamic descriptive systems made up of separate but linked descriptions. Of course, if you want, you can continue to create a single all-in-one representation based only on ISAD(G) and if that’s your aim then you can use <relatedmaterial> for links to related resources. But if you want to pave the way for a more dynamic descriptive system, then <relations> is the way to go.





From: Encoded Archival Description List [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Michele R Combs
Sent: 16 December 2013 19:32
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Question about <relatedmaterial>


Hi Victoria –


I’m curious what you mean by “much more dynamic” – could you elaborate a little bit?






From: Encoded Archival Description List [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Victoria Peters
Sent: Monday, December 16, 2013 11:00 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Question about <relatedmaterial>


Hi Jane and others


EAD3 has a solution for this, I believe, with the new <relations> element. The tag library says:
“relationships with other resources such as archival collections…may be expressed using a <relation> element with the @relationtype attribute set to ‘resourcerelation’..”
I don’t know if this is intended for internal references as well as others but I don’t see why not.


I would think that this is a much more dynamic way of linking to related material than via <relatedmaterial>.

Of course, this may not be an answer right now until we’re all upgraded to EAD3 but it’s worth bearing in mind.



Victoria Peters

University Archivist

University of Strathclyde

Andersonian Library

101 St James' Road, Glasgow G4 0NS

Tel: 0141 548 5825

Fax: 0141 552 3304

Email: [log in to unmask]


University of Strathclyde Archives and Special Collections website strath.ac.uk/archives

Follow us on Twitter @StrathArchives


The University of Strathclyde is a charitable body registered in Scotland, no SCO 15263




From: Encoded Archival Description List [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Michael Rush
Sent: 16 December 2013 15:01
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Question about <relatedmaterial>




This has come up for me a few times.  As my antipathy for <note> is well documented, I have always advocated for using <relatedmaterial> for internal references. I will ask the tag library editorial team to consider revising the element definition to make it more accommodating of the ISAD(G) usage.




On Mon, Dec 16, 2013 at 4:47 AM, Jane Stevenson <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

Hi there,

I'm just wanting to advise an archivist who wants to refer to related material that is within the same collection.

The <relatedmaterial> tag is NOT for materials related by provenance.
However, it is comparable to ISAD(G) 3.5.3
ISAD(G) 3.5.3 is for "information about units of description in the same repository or elsewhere that ARE related by provenance or other association(s)

Has anyone come up against this issue before?

I know <separatedmaterial> is for materials related by provenance, but it's for materials that have been separated from the described materials. In this case there is no separation - it's all one collection, but the cataloguer wants to point researchers to related items within the collection.


Jane Stevenson
The Archives Hub
Mimas, The University of Manchester
Devonshire House, Oxford Road
Manchester M13 9QH

email:[log in to unmask]
tel: 0161 275 6055
website: archiveshub.ac.uk
blog: archiveshub.ac.uk/blog
twitter: twitter.com/archiveshub