Just Launched: Historical Representation at American House Museums Web Archive

Written by Web Collections Librarian Miranda Siler

Columbia University Libraries is pleased to announce the launch of the Historical Representation at American House Museums Web Archive. Developed by librarians, library workers, and professors within the Ivy Plus Libraries Confederation, the collection aims to document the changing interpretation and presentation of the experiences of working people and immigrants, the lives of the enslaved, and the contributions of women, LGBT individuals, indigenous peoples, and various ethnic groups at historic house museums in the United States.

House museums have been a key component of historic preservation in America since the mid-19th century. Until recently, house museums largely interpreted the lives of great men (and, on rare occasions, women), first and second generation settlers in America, or the work of master architects such as Frank Lloyd Wright or Stanford White. More recently, many house museums have begun changing their focus to include the experiences of underrepresented peoples, including but not limited to the groups mentioned above. Websites have, in many cases, replaced printed guidebooks in disseminating the social history of these sites. The Historical Representation at American House Museums Web Archive is curated by Andrew S. Dolkart (Columbia University), Chris Sala (Columbia University), and Holly Tominack (Johns Hopkins University).

Screenshot of the website of the Whitney Plantation, a historic site in Louisiana that teaches about slavery.

Web archives preserve vulnerable information that may disappear from the live web and capture the ways in which selected websites have evolved over time. The Ivy Plus Libraries Confederation’s Web Collecting Program is a collaborative collection development effort to build curated, thematic collections of freely available, but at-risk, web content in order to support research. Learn more about the program or explore the collections here.