UK Web Archive blog

Information from the team at the UK Web Archive, the Library's premier resource of archived UK websites

The UK Web Archive, the Library's premier resource of archived UK websites


News and views from the British Library’s web archiving team and guests. Posts about the public UK Web Archive, and since April 2013, about web archiving as part as non-print legal deposit. Editor-in-chief: Jason Webber. Read more

02 December 2020

Creating a Web Collection for the exhibition - Unfinished Business: The Fight for Women’s Rights

By Eleanor Dickens, Curator, Politics and Public Life at the British Library

Unfinished business exhibition poster

In 2020, the British Library opened the major exhibition: ‘Unfinished Business: The Fight for Women’s Rights’, exploring women’s rights and gender equality in the UK. To coincide with the opening the library also launched a collection on the web archive collection under the same title.

Today, activism and politics often thrive in online spaces and this web archive collection was designed to highlight this. It sought to recognise the surge of activism around women’s rights issues that has emerged online - whereby it has become a tool for marginalised voices to unite and be amplified.

Placards supporting women's right's

The core aim of the collection was to capture websites that reflect the activism around women’s rights online. From the beginning we also recognised that the scope for this collection was difficult to define and that sites relevant to this collection would come from many areas and would not focus solely on feminism, gender and women’s studies but also subjects such as family history, society and culture and welfare for example.

The aim for the collection was to use the knowledge of the curatorial team working on the exhibition and for them to suggest and forward pages as they worked. We also hoped to use community engagement to think with users about the online spaces they used and engaged with and where their activism and feminism manifested.

We wanted to capture around 100 websites or individual web pages but knew, just like in the physical exhibition, that this collection would only ever be a glimpse at a subject that is amorphous, huge and deeply personal to each user.

Online activism is by its very nature, fast moving and deeply personal. A collection brought together by someone else can only ever be a general snapshot. One hundred web collections of one hundred pages curated by a hundred different feminists would still not convey a complete image of contemporary online feminism. This was a reality of the web collection but it was one we knew going into it and could try our best to balance.

Looking at the collection as a whole it is also noticeable that many sites captured are for resources, charities and centres working in all areas of women’s rights rather than a reflection of activism or radical discourse. This is not a bad thing. However, it shows the difficulty in capturing activism online. This also happened because while trying to maintain balance in a limited collection it was problematic to capture too many personal twitter accounts or websites - these could easily number in their thousands – but through limiting them, you end up with largely the websites of institutions or organisations that can feel less dynamic.

Despite these difficulties we ended up with an exciting collection of archived websites, reflecting a moment of contemporary feminism and hopefully a resource that can be used in many ways.
The UK Web Archive also has two complimentary web archive collections both the Gender Equality and Women’s Issues collections reflect a lot of the themes captured in the Unfinished Business: The Fight for Women’s Rights collection.

The Gender Equality collection is still active and seeking nominations. You can nominate more content to this collection by following the Save a UK Website tab on our website:

The Women’s Issues collection was a collaboration with the Women's Library at LSE from 2005 to 2013. This collection is a representation of some of the issues facing women during that time period.
Readers will also be interested in the Political Action & Communication collection. This collection tries to capture a snapshot of various types of activism from across the UK and there is an overlap with the Gender Equality collection.

25 November 2020

LGBTQ+ Lives Online Web Archive Collection

By Steven Dryden, British Library LGBTQ+ Staff Network & Ash Green CILIP LGBTQ+ Network

As you’ll have read on this blog, the collaboration with UK Web Archive (UKWA), British Library and CILIP LGBTQ+ Network to develop LGBTQ+ content within the UK Web Archive was launched during summer 2020.

Rainbow tapestry

LGBTQ+ content was already part of the UK Web Archive before the collaboration began, with many sites in other collections overlapping LGBTQ+ themes. For example, Black and Asian Britain (, Gender Equality (Beyond the Binary), Sport (Graces Cricket Club). And some sites cut across many collections, highlighting the intersectional nature of the UK Web Archive. For example, Gal-Dem features in the News Sites; Zines and Fanzines; Black and Asian Britain; Gender Equality; Women's Issues; Unfinished Business: The Fight for Women’s Rights collections, as well as LGBTQ+ Lives Online. LGBTQ+ Lives Online, much like the lived experience of the LGBTQ+ does not sit in isolation, disconnected from other aspects of UK offline and online life. LGBTQ+ people play a part in all aspects of the UK community, and are not solely defined by their gender or sexual orientation.

This UK Web Archive collection doesn’t stand in isolation either, it enriches the scope of work already begun at The British Library.LGBTQ Histories aims to explore the experiences and stories encountered in the collections, posing questions about the lived experience of LGBTQ+ people throughout history.The LGBTQ+ Lives Online collection of the UK Web Archive plays a part in CILIP LGBTQ+ Network’s ambition to raise the profile of LGBTQ+ people, support the development of LGBTQ+ information resources and the work of LGBTQ+ Library, information and knowledge workers.

LGBTQ+ Lives Online Collection

UKWA 'ACT' tool

The collection currently contains over 400 sites and web pages in the main collection, with more of these being added to sub-collections every week. Many of the sites were already in the UKWA before the collaboration began, but were not linked to sub-collections. We are still at the stage where we are developing the structure of sub-collections but our initial indexes cover:

Since the launch of this collaborative project, we have been focused on a number of areas to both develop the project and to preserve sites within the collection. This includes:

  • Identifying sites already in the UK Web Archive to be added to the LGBTQ+ Lives Online sub-collections.
  • Identifying new sites not already in the UKWA to be included in the collection.
  • Spreading the word about the project as widely as possible via blog posts and articles such as this; social media; emails targeting specific LGBTQ+, library, and broader diversity organisations and networks.

You can browse through the collection here, and nominate a UK published site or webpage with a focus on LGBTQ+ lives to be included in the collection via: We would especially like to see more nominations that reflect the multicultural nature of UK LGBTQ+ communities and the many diaspora communities based here, including UK sites written in languages other than English.

Though it can often be challenging for us to archive social media accounts, we are able to collect LGBTQ+ Twitter accounts. We have experimented with other methods of archiving social media but this is on a selective basis, but we would welcome nominations and projects that might address these challenges and how they might impact on archiving LGBTQ+ experience in the UK,

How can you access these archived websites?

UKWA search results page

Under the Non-Print Legal Deposit Regulations 2013, the UKWA  can archive UK published websites, but are only able to make the archived version available to people outside the Legal Deposit Libraries Reading Rooms, if the website owner has given permission. The UK Legal Deposit Libraries are the British Library, National Library of Scotland, National Library of Wales, Bodleian Libraries, Cambridge University Library and Trinity College Dublin Library.  

Some of the websites in UKWA have already had permission granted, these include Out Stories Bristol, Trans Ageing and Care, Bi Cymru/Wales and Queer Zine Library. As the content of UKWA has mixed access, the message ‘Viewable only on Library premises’ will appear under the title of the website if you need to visit a Legal Deposit Library to view content. If there is no message underneath then the archived version of the website should be available on your personal device.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the reading rooms were closed for a number of weeks but are starting to reopen. This blog post gives an overview of opening hours and how to book a visit at the six UK Legal Deposit Libraries: 

Previous blog posts about the project can be viewed via the following links.

LGBTQ+ Lives Online project introduction

LGBTQ+ Lives Online: Introducing the Lead Curators


24 November 2020

Web Archive Team wins 2020 Digital Preservation Award

By Sophia Chrisafis, Internal Communications Officer, The British Library

On Thursday 5 November the UK Web Archive Team won The National Archives (UK) Award for Safeguarding the Digital Legacy at the Digital Preservation Awards 2020.

The Award was made to the UK Web Archive for ‘15 years of the UK Web Archive’, marking the anniversary of the launch of a public UK Web Archive service.

In all, there are six awards, which are presented every two years. 

Digital Preservation Award 2020

2020 Awards
This year the awards took place online, via Zoom. John Sheridan, Digital Director at The National Archives, introduced the award: 

The National Archives (UK) Award for Safeguarding the Digital Legacy celebrates the practical application of preservation skills to protect at-risk digital objects, drawing attention to the concrete efforts to ensure important elements of our generation’s digital memory can remain available for future generations. It is also for demonstrating a deep understanding of the risks that digital objects face and (the winner) should be an exemplar of digital preservation best practice and why preservation matters.

The winners were announced by judge April Miller, from the World Bank Group, who invited Ian Cooke, the British Library’s Head of Contemporary British Published Collections, to give an acceptance speech.

On behalf of Web Archiving Team Ian said:

‘We’re really amazingly pleased to have won.

‘It’s a huge honour for us to be recognised in this way, and to have been among such excellent finalists, such amazing projects, really inspiring ones.

‘We always say it’s not possible to understand the 21st century without the archived web, and we’ve been posting to our blog all week about the diversity and variety of our collections.

‘I’m personally always amazed and incredibly proud of the work Andy Jackson and Nicola Bingham lead for the Web Archive, and also for our whole team, both at the British Library and across the UK legal deposit libraries, and the friends we work with – the International Internet Preservation Consortium, an incredible community – and everyone we’ve worked with around the world for the past 15 years for digital preservation access and development.

Thank you so much.’

The UK Web Archive

The UK Web Archive (UKWA) was formed in 2003 as a response to growing awareness of an urgent digital preservation need, to collect and preserve communication using the web.

UKWA is a partnership of the six UK Legal Deposit Libraries: National Library of Scotland, National Library of Wales, Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford, Cambridge University Libraries, Trinity College, Dublin and the British Library. In 2020, UKWA celebrated 15 years since making its first collections available publicly online.

Read more about the last 15 years of UKWA in these blog posts: