Friday, August 7, 2015

Archiving the Web : the Wisconsin Historical Society's Archive-It Collections

Guest post by Eileen Snyder, Wisconsin Government Publications Librarian at WHS
Wisconsin Historical Society logo
Courtesy of WHS
The Wisconsin Historical Society (WHS) began developing the WHS Archive-It Collections back in 2010 to collect electronic government records from state agency websites. The WHS state agency website collection ties into the Wisconsin Document Depository Program’s efforts to collect primarily individual pdf state agency through the Wisconsin Digital Archives

Archive-IT logo
Courtesy of Archive-It

Archive-It is a license-based product of the non-profit Internet Archive for collecting websites and other information on the internet. The Internet Archive is the same organization that created the Wayback Machine for archiving the internet, and while the tools are similar, they differ in that Archive-It collections are curated and full-text searchable, while websites for the Wayback Machine are captured mostly automatically and are not full-text searchable.

In 2010, the imminent disappearance of websites and other online information related to Governor Doyle's administration offered WHS the opportunity to pilot the Archive-It tool by archiving Governor Doyle’s webpages before the new administration took over. The tool provided a way to quickly collect and preserve the information from the Governor’s website, as well as his Facebook and Flickr pages, YouTube channel, and various other websites and social media from his administration, all of which would otherwise have disappeared. WHS web archiving efforts grew from that project, beginning with state agency websites.

WHS continues to expand the use of Archive-It. Today, in addition to state agency websites, WHS collects county and municipal government websites, and topical websites of special interest to Wisconsin, such as sites related to recent gubernatorial campaigns, mining in Wisconsin, and sustainable agriculture. We also have an extensive collection of online newspapers and newsletters and a collection related to existing national manuscripts collections in WHS archives.

I hope you will visit the WHS Archive-It Collections often. It is a constantly growing and changing resource. For more information, see the WHS website.

Written by:
Eileen Snyder, Wisconsin Historical Society