Developing the EAD DTD has been a cooperative venture since October 1993 when the University of California, Berkeley, Library initiated a project to investigate the desirability and feasibility of creating a platform-independent encoding standard for inventories, registers, indexes, and other finding aids, which are created by libraries, museums, manuscript repositories, and archives to describe and provide access to their holdings. The project's growth has been nurtured through a series of fellowships, grants, and in-kind contributions made by several institutions and professional associations, including the Department of Education (Title IIA grant); Library, University of California, Berkeley; Commission on Preservation and Access; Bentley Historical Library; Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; National Endowment for the Humanities (Division of Preservation and Access); Library of Congress National Digital Library Program; and the Council on Library Resources.
Detailed information about the history and development of the project from October 1993 to January 1996 may be found at the Berkeley Digital Library SunSite. On 26 February 1996, the Library of Congress Network Development and MARC Standards Office (NDMSO) announced the release of the alpha version of the EAD. A few months earlier, NDMSO agreed to serve as the international maintenance agency for the standard. At about the same time, the Society of American Archivists (SAA), through an EAD Working Group of its Committee on Archival Information Exchange (CAIE), accepted responsibility for monitoring and assisting in the ongoing development of the EAD. The working group includes individuals representing various interests within the SAA as well as representatives from OCLC, Research Libraries Group (RLG), and the Library of Congress.