EAD at the PRO and the Access to Archives Programme (A2A)

Bill Stockting


The Public Record Office (PRO: the National Archives of England and Wales) was an ‘early implementer’ of Encoded Archival Description or EAD as it is more commonly known. Meg Sweet, a member of the EAD Working Group, first introduced it in 1997. She developed a small pilot using the beta version of the new standard, which showed that EAD was applicable to English records and archival practice. It also persuaded her colleagues that further development with EAD was a good idea.
Since then, a number of projects at the PRO have used EAD and we have learnt a great deal about its advantages and disadvantages as a tool in the development of standardised and searchable online archival catalogues. This experience is being put to good use in an important national project, Access to Archives (more commonly known as A2A), which has EAD at its very heart. This project can be used, therefore, as an example of both the advantages of EAD, which led us to use it in the project, and its disadvantages, which we have attempted to overcome in the A2A database.

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