Archives of Michigan Online Finding Aids

Finding Aids and EAD

Archival repositories create detailed descriptions of specific collections that are  known as finding aids.  These documents often include locations, biographies/histories, contents lists, and a detailed description of the type of material in the collection.  This allows patrons much faster access to relevant material.   

As information migrates to a digital environment, archivists have created a standardized code for online finding aids known as Electronic Archival Description (EAD).  EAD is an intricate system of coding that allows standardization of different repositories’ finding aid formats.  With EAD, the coding is the same at each repository, but the institution has the flexibility to create their own stylesheet that controls the way the guide appears online.  Thus, archives have unlimited flexibility to decide how the guide is displayed to the user while adhering to a standard coding system.