Have you ever wished you could go back in time and see what Columbia’s website looked like before now? Since July 2010 the University Archives has been helping our users do just that. As part of its mission to preserve and provide access to the institutional history of Columbia in all formats, the UA has partnered with the Columbia University Libraries’ Web Resources Collection Program to preserve a record of Columbia’s web presence in a Columbia University Archive-It collection. But, you may ask, hasn’t Columbia had a web presence earlier than 2010? Yes, it has, and up until January 2022, we just directed users to the Internet Archive’s global Wayback Machine for anything that might have been captured before our own collecting efforts. But now, we have a new cache of material we are excited to share with our users!
In early 2021, the Internet Archive announced its new Waybackfill service: for a one-time fee, Archive-It subscribers could supplement their own web collecting with earlier archival versions of the same websites from the Internet Archive’s global Wayback Machine. We jumped at this opportunity to provide our users with seamless access to a fuller range of archived Columbia web content, and in June 2021 ordered a Waybackfill of all the archived data from the columbia.edu domain between 1996 and June 2010 available in the Internet Archive’s global Wayback Machine to be added to our University Archives web archive collection. The data extraction, transfer and re-indexing took several months, and by January 2022 this additional content was officially included in our Archive-It collection and is now searchable along with our previously available content.
The web was very new in 1996 (the earliest year captured) and it’s quite a time travel trip when you go and look back at Columbia’s initial website and consider how far we’ve come in 25 years. Some interesting stories and sites to revisit include:
- Want to create your own website? Here’s your 1997 invitation to publish on the web and join “the electronic publishing revolution”
- See a very early (and very simple) version of the Columbia Libraries website from 1998
- Read all about Columbia’s Y2K guidance (and happy results) as computers had to handle the fear-inducing switch from 1999 to 2000…
As you can see, there is a wide range of information available via the archived website and we are excited to see what our users will be able to do with this newly accessible content. We encourage you to go to the University Archives web collection access page and use the faceted categories on the left to explore the history of Columbia University’s web presence.