Interrogating the archived UK web: Historians and Social Scientists Research Experiences

Dr Gareth Millward (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine), Richard Deswarte (University of East Anglia), Dr Peter Webster (British Library)
4 November 2014

Interrogating the archived UK web: Historians and Social Scientists Research Experiences

Dr Gareth Millward is currently a Research Fellow at the Centre for History in Public Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. He has research interests in disability and government policy, and more recently notions of the ‘public’ in British vaccination programmes. For the BUDDAH project he is researching disabled people and the Web.

Richard Deswarte is a Lecturer in Modern European History at UEA with research interests in the European idea and integration, as well as Digital Humanities. On the BUDDAH project he is examining the presence and rise of Euroscepticism.

Dr Peter Webster is currently the British Library lead on the BUDDAH project and Web Archiving Engagement and Liaison Officer at the BL. Alongside scholarly interests in Web Archiving and Digital Humanities, Peter researches on the history of religion, the Anglican Church and the relation between church, law and state in 19th and 20th century Britain.

The emergence of the WWW has been one of the most profound and influential phenomena of the last twenty years. One of the dominant features of the WWW is its changing nature both in terms of content and its technological underpinnings. The content of the WWW is an immense resource full of potential for academic researchers both in its current state and in its previous constantly changing forms. Over the last decade, in particular, archives of WWW materials have been emerging. These archives are still very much in a nascent form but are beginning to be made available and to be utiltised by a range of scholars. The UK Web Archive hosted by the British Library is at the forefront of trawling and making available for researchers archived versions of the UK WWW dating back to the 1990s. It is currently engaged jointly with the Institute of Historical Research (IHR) and the Oxford Internet Institute (OII) in the ‘Big UK Domain Data for the Arts and Humanities Project’ (BUDDAH) where a new research interface is being developed in conjunction with a number of humanities scholars who are at the same time exploring the UK Web Archive to identify its strengths and weaknesses for academic research. Peter Webster will introduce Web Archiving, the BUDDAH project and the new research interface, while Gareth Millward and Richard Deswarte will relate their experiences in using the resource to research respectively the history of disabled people and accessibility on the WWW, and Euroscepticism.

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