<eadheader> EAD header

The first element within an <ead> wrapper is <eadheader>. This element is itself a wrapper for the information, bibliographic and descriptive, about the finding aid itself. It contrasts with <archdesc> which is a description of the archival material. According to the EAD tag library:

The <eadheader> is modeled on the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) header element to encourage uniformity in the provision of metadata across document types.

<eadheader> is a required element in the EAD schema and must be inside the <ead> element. It must be placed before either <frontmatter> or <archdesc>.


  • ALTRENDER – not required. Use if the content of the element should be displayed or printed differently than the rendering established in a style sheet for other occurrences of the element.
  • AUDIENCE – not required. Use to set whether the element’s contents will be visible to external users or to internal ones. Possible values are: “internal” and “external.”
  • ID – not required. Creates an ID for element. Can be used for linking.
  • COUNTRYENCODING – used to specify the standard from which the COUNTRYCODE attribute (which can be used in subelements of <eadheader>) will be taken. The default is iso3166-1, a rather familiar 2-letter country code (e.g. US, CA, GB).
  • DATEENCODING – used to specify the standard for the NORMAL attribute in date elements. Is set by default to iso8601, which is fairly flexible but which should be consulted for a basic understanding of how to format them.
  • REPOSITORYENCODING – used to specify the standard from which the MAINAGENCYCODE or REPOSITORYCODE attributes may be set. By default, it adheres to the iso15511 standard.
  • LANGENCODING – used to specify the standard from which the LANGCODE attribute is taken. By default, it specifies the iso639-2b standard.
  • SCRIPTENCODING – sets the standard from which the SCRIPTCODE element will be taken. By default, it conforms to, iso15924 which specifies four-letter codes for indicated scripts used in the finding aid or materials (such as “arab” for Arabic).
  • ENCODINGANALOG – not required. May contain information to map this tag to a particular element in another schema.
  • FINDAIDSTATUS – not required. May be used to describe the finding aid’s level of completeness.
  • RELATEDENCODING – not required. If only the header element (not the entire finding aid) is going to be mapped to a particular standard such as MARC or Dublin Code, this is where one would specify it.

In sum, <eadheader> has no required attributes, although it sets defaults for types of encoding which will be used later on. It is highly unlikely that you will need to change any of the ISO standards set as defaults in <eadheader>. Since they are set as defaults, you don’t need to worry about specifying them at all, unless you do wish to change them. The standards will be mentioned again and linked to when we come to the elements in which the attributes they define will be used.


<eadheader> must contain the <eadid> and the <filedesc> subelements. <eadid> specifies the unique ID by which this element can be found in the finding aid organization system (whether paper or digital). <filedesc> includes critical information, the finding aid’s title (which is a required element within it), as well as publication, series, and edition information and notes.

It may also contain the subelements <profiledesc> and <revisiondesc>. <profiledesc> includes information about the encoder (vs. the author) of the finding aid, and information about the encoding process. <revisiondesc> should be used to list any changes to the finding aid, although it is not needed if the finding aid has not been revised.

An overview of Library of Congress best practices for the EAD header can be found on their website, but we’ll also be going over them step by step in section 2.

Our EAD file so far

Let’s add these four elements to an EAD file in progress and fill them out as we go along.

	<frontmatter><!--we're going to display it here just to show how it's used-->

EAD tag library entry for <eadheader>.