From Archive to Researcher: a Generic Tool Set

There were two major aims in the LEADERS (Linking EAD to Electronically Retrievable Sources) project:

1.To carry out research on the needs of users of archive and records collections
2.To develop a toolset to deliver finding aids, transcriptions and digital images of archives over the Internet

The Internet makes it possible for finding aids (metadata about archives) to be accessed electronically, most often using the Encoded Archival Description (EAD), a standard for electronic finding aids. However, few archives at present deliver electronic images or transcriptions of the material and researchers must therefore travel to the collections to use them. Within the humanities computing community more advanced XML-based methodologies for encoding and delivering full text representations of historical documents have been developed in the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) project, but the TEI is relatively weak on metadata structures and at the start of our project had not been used together with the EAD in an integrated fashion.

A toolset must obviously provide the functions that users need, but we found little research on these needs. We aimed to investigate the needs of users in different kinds of archives and to build up a picture of what searches they wanted to carry out. These functions could then be built into the LEADERS toolkit. This aspect of the project was addressed by questionnaires in six archive and record offices and by three focus groups trialling the pilot software

Principal investigator
Professor Susan Hockey
Principal project staff
Professor Susan Hockey
Start date
Monday, October 1, 2001
Completion date
Tuesday, February 1, 2005
Source material
As the principal output of this project is software, this section is not relevant. A small number of records from two collections at University College London, the George Orwell Archive and the College Archive, are used in the demonstrator software. These are intended to show the functionality of the software and encoding scheme and are not sufficient to function as a digital resource on their own.

Sexton, Anna and Chris Turner. "Expanding the Role of EAD: Providing Adequate Metadata for Digital As Well As Original Archive Documents". Vine 32:4 (2002): 71-80.

Sexton, Anna, Chris Turner, Geoffrey Yeo and Susan Hockey. “TEI, EAD, and Integrated User Access to Archives: Towards a Generic Toolset”. In DRH 2001 and 2002 Selected Papers from the Digital Resources for the Humanities Conferences 2001 and 2002, edited by Jean Anderson, Alistair Dunning and Michael Fraser. London: Office for Humanities Communication, 2003.

Sexton, Anna, Chris Turner, Geoffrey Yeo and Susan Hockey. “Understanding Users: a Prerequisite for Developing New Technologies”. Journal of the Society of Archivists 25 (2004): 33-49.

Sexton, Anna, Chris Turner, Geoffrey Yeo and Susan Hockey. “User Feedback: Testing the LEADERS Demonstrator Application”. Journal of the Society of Archivists 25 (2004): 189-208.