Controlled vocabularies combine genre and form because there is no clear-cut way to differentiate these and there is very little point in arguing about which list a term should be in.

Quoting from the MARC format 655, which covers genre, form, and physical characteristics

"Examples of genre terms for textual materials are: biographies, catechisms, essays, hymns, or reviews. Examples of form and physical characteristic terms are: daybooks, diaries, directories, journals, memoranda, questionnaires, syllabi, or time sheets. "

Well, that's nice--diaries are only form/physical characterics?! So, my *memoir* can be a genre, but my *diary* can only be a form? Surely you want memoirs and diaries to be on the same list of options.

Kate Bowers

Collections Services Archivist for Metadata, Systems, and Standards

Harvard University Archives

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From: Encoded Archival Description List <[log in to unmask]> on behalf of Jane Stevenson <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Wednesday, April 26, 2017 4:29 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: [EAD] Genre and Form
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.


Jane Stevenson
Archives Hub Service Manager
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