Hi Jane!

My understanding has always been that the <genreform> element in EAD was
intended to correspond to the 655 field in MARC. If you read the 655 field
definition at, you'll notice
the language describing <genreform> is very similar.

The wisdom of mimicking MARC in EAD can certainly be debated, but at least
there is a reason behind the mashup that is <genreform>.

Now the reasoning why MARC combined genre, form, and physical
characteristics into 655 predate me, so I can't shed much light there. I
have always assumed it was a practicality intended to save a MARC field or


On Wed, Apr 26, 2017 at 4:29 AM, Jane Stevenson <[log in to unmask]>

> HI there,
> i’ve never been quite clear about the <genreform> tag.
> The EAD2002 and EAD3 guide says:
> "A term that identifies the types of material being described, by naming
> the style or technique of their intellectual content (genre); order of
> information or object function (form); and physical characteristics.
> Examples include: account books, architectural drawings, portraits, short
> stories, sound recordings, and videotapes.”
> But genre is a style, like ‘gothic’ architecture or ‘romantic’ literature
> or ‘garage’ music. So, you might say the ‘form’ is a short story or a
> videotape, but the genre is ‘comedy’ or ‘documentary’.
> It just doesn’t seem like these are the same thing and I’ve never
> understood why they are put together.
> I just wondered if anyone has any thoughts on this. I’ve just never been
> able to convey it to our contributors in a way that makes sense to me
> because describing something as a ’short story’ seems very different from
> describing its style as, say, ‘romantic’ in terms of genre. I’ve never
> understood why we put these together.
> cheers,
> Jane
> Jane Stevenson
> Archives Hub Service Manager
> [log in to unmask]
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