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Tour of the Unity Theatre collection
An enjoyable way to learn about the basic constituents of archival description.

Collection Description Focus
The aim of aim of the CD Focus (based with UKOLN at the University of Bath) is to improve co-ordination of work on collection description methods, schemas and tools, with the goal of ensuring consistency and compatibility of approaches across projects, disciplines, institutions, domains and sectors. There is a helpful on-line tutorial at

Description Standards

ISAD(G), second edition
The text of General International Standard Archival Description Second Edition on the ICA website.

Library of Congress EAD page
The main EAD (Encoded Archival Description) page hosted by the Library of Congress.

Guide to implementing EAD
A guide to implementing EAD: using an example finding aid, complete with several style sheets and auxiliary files to take advantage of some of the most used XML software.

RLG site
RLG’s Best Practice Guidelines for EAD can be found on this site which is intended to help RLG members use the Encoded Archival Description Document Type Definition (EAD DTD) application of Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML), for the purpose of making their finding aids accessible on the Web.

Standardised Languages for Data Exchange and Storage
The Web version of Standardised Languages for Data Exchange and Storage. The Encoded Archival Description: using SGML to create permanent electronic handlists by Richard Higgins (1997).

International Standard Archival Authority Record, second edn
This is the exposure draft of the second edition of the International Standard Archival Authority Record (corporate bodies, persons and families).

Example ISAAR(CPF) entry
Here is an example of an ISAAR(CPF) entry.

Encoded Archival Context
The site of a group of archivists who are developing a high-level model for such information and to drafting a strategy for its implemention. The site has the Toronto Tenets document ( See for working drafts of the Ad Hoc EAC Working Group.

A project designed to link archival finding aids (using description standards) to the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) and thus to allow archive users to find and manipulate digitised images and transcriptions of archives.

ISIAH, the draft International Standard for Institutions with Archival Holdings
For describing archival institutions that have custody of the documents and the services they offer.

ISAF, the draft International Standard on Activities/Functions of Corporate Bodies

GASHE study: developing a standard for function descriptions
A GASHE project to develop a standard for creating function and activity descriptions; the report describes the methodology and there are examples of use of the standard on the main GASHE site.

Standards for Archival Description: A Handbook
The Web version of Standards for Archival Description: A Handbook, compiled by Victoria Irons Walch with contributions by Marion Matters, published by the Society of American Archivists in 1994.

Australian Society of Archivists Committee on Descriptive Standards
Committee with role to move the Australian archival community towards the use of standardised descriptive practices by playing a leading role in developing and promoting suitable national and international standards Useful papers and information about description and metadata research and standardisation.

Controlled vocabularies

UNESCO Thesaurus
This thesaurus concentrates on vocabulary for UNESCO’s sphere of activity but it is the basis for a ULCC-led project to expand and develop it into a standard for archives and records management.

UK Archival Thesaurus (UKAT)
The subject thesaurus created for the archive sector in the United Kingdom, provinding a controlled vocabulary which archives can use when indexing their collections and catalogues.

NCA Rules
Known as the “NCA Rules”, this site lays out the Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, National Council on Archives (1997).

Library of Congress subject headings thesaurus
This is a website with details of the Library of Congress Subject Headings thesaurus which was originally designed as a controlled vocabulary for representing the subject and form of the books and serials in the Library of Congress collection, with the purpose of providing subject access points to the bibliographic records contained in the Library of Congress catalogues.

“Tomatoes are not the only fruit: a rough guide to taxonomies, thesauri, ontologies and the like”
A useful and entertaining guide on the GovTalk website.

Archival networks

A2A: The English strand of the UK Archives Network containing catalogues for archives across England, dating from the 900s to the present day.

AIM25: archives of higher education institutions and learned societies in London and the M25 area.

Gateway to Archives of Scottish Higher Education
Gateway to Archives of Scottish Higher Education (GASHE): records of higher education institutions in Scotland.

Scottish Archive Network
Scottish Archive Network (SCAN): access to the written records of Scotland.

Archives Network Wales
The Welsh archives network to allow easy searching of the collections of documents held by record offices, universities, museums and libraries in Wales.

The Archives Hub
The Archives Hub provides a single point of access to descriptions of archives held in UK universities and colleges.

ARCHON directory
A service provided by the Historical Manuscripts Commission on its website, ARCHON (“Archives on Line”) is the principal information gateway for UK archivists and users of manuscript sources for British history.

DANGO: Database of Archives of UK Non-Governmental Organisations since 1945

The Mundus Gateway
A web-based guide to more than four hundred collections of overseas missionary materials held in the United Kingdom. Maintained and updated at the School of Oriental and African Studies under the direction of the Archivist, Rosemary Seton.

Genesis: Women’s History Sources in the British Isles
A mapping initiative to identify and develop access to women’s history sources in the British Isles. The database holds descriptions of women’s history collections from libraries, archives and museums from around the British Isles.

The National Directory of Community Archives in the UK
This site was launched in August 2006 to support community archives in the UK.

Other links

The UCL LEADERS Project aimed at enhancing remote user access to archives by providing the means to present archival source materials within their context. The toolkit is available on this site.

Platform for Internet Content Selection (PICS)
The website for the World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) Platform for Internet Content Selection (PICS) specification which enables metadata to be associated with Internet content. The W3C ( was created in 1994 to develop common protocols that promote the Web’s evolution and ensure its interoperability.

Links last verified: 28.06.2020. Links will open in a new browser window.

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