Archiving the web during events in Ferguson, MO

September 3rd, 2014

On August 15th, Archive-It Partner Specialist Sylvie Rollason-Cass solicited URL nominations for a web archive collection on the events in Ferguson, MO as part of the Spontaneous Event Working Group. At that time civil unrest, protests, and the resulting police response was mounting in reaction to the August 9th shooting of Michael Brown by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson.

This is a growing collection that to date includes over 130 URLs which are now available on We will continue to archive websites in this collection as events unfold. We are still accepting URL nominations through this form.

This was not the only effort to archive online content and media related to the events in Ferguson. Important seed nominations also came from Washington University St. Louis’ collaborative Documenting Ferguson project with other St. Louis Universities and organizations. It is “a freely available resource for students, scholars, teachers, and the greater community, Documenting Ferguson has the ultimate goal of providing diverse perspectives of the events surrounding the conflicts in Ferguson.”

In addition, Ed Summers, who works at the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH), used a tool he developed called twarc to collect over 13 million tweets in JSON format. As part of his project, Ed  extracted the top 50 links mentioned in the first 50,000 tweets from the evening of August 10th (see also his follow-up post, “On Archiving Tweets”). We  added these 50 links to the Archive-It collection and will continue to collaborate with Ed and the Spontaneous Event Working Group to continue building the collection.

Want to help us archive important events?

When unexpected events happen around the world we need to reach out to colleagues to help us record and document the unfolding activities on the world wide web before they disappear! Are you a librarian or archivist who works as a liaison to or has access to researchers in a variety of fields and can assist us in quickly identifying subject matter experts to assist in curating spontaneous event web archives? Join our Spontaneous Event Working Group to help us better connect. If you have any questions, would like to learn more and/or participate please email Partner Specialist Sylvie Rollason-Cass.

In addition to Ferguson, examples of collections that have been created since 2008 include the recent conflict in the Ukraine, Hurricane Sandy, US government shutdown, and the Jasmine Revolution. Browse all the collections here.