Author Archives: Jenica Jessen

Now Accepting SMS Donations

As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, the Internet Archive is able to survive, thrive, and grow thanks to the generosity of our donors. That’s why we’re happy to announce the launch of a new way to donate easily from anywhere: SMS giving! 

Simply text ARCHIVE to 44321 and you’ll receive a secure link that you can use to make a gift. You can select a preset amount or enter your own, and choose whether to set up a monthly donation or make a one-time contribution. Payments can be sent via credit card, Google Pay/Apple Pay, or by connecting your bank account directly.

Of course, you can also still donate by visiting archive.org/donate, using cryptocurrency, making a legacy bequest, and more—here’s a list of all the ways you can give. There are also plenty of other ways you can help out if a financial contribution isn’t possible right now.

Our work is only possible because of the support of our community—and we’re deeply grateful for the generosity of our patrons. Thank you for helping us advance Universal Access to All Knowledge!

Getting Started at the Internet Archive

So you’ve created an Internet Archive account—now what? Your account serves as a digital library card that lets you engage with our collections in unique ways. While our resources can always be accessed for free without signing in, having an account gives you some special abilities as you begin exploring the archive. Here are a few ways to get started!

Borrow Books

Most of the books in our collection are from before 1925 and can be freely read, downloaded, and shared. Your account, however, gives you access to more modern books as well—millions of works that can be checked out for an hour at a time and renewed for as long as you need, depending on availability. Here’s a handy guide to using our Lending Library! 

Upload Materials 

While many of our resources come from our library partners, our ongoing digitization programs, or even government agencies, millions of items in the Internet Archive are uploaded by everyday users. Whether you’ve got old photos, ephemeral videos, historic yearbooks, preserved Flash animations, or episodes of a podcast, your Internet Archive account gives you a place to store them. Here’s how to get started with uploading

Play Favorites

Is there something in the archive you keep coming back to again and again? The Favorites feature lets you mark your preferred items and collections for future reference—simply click the star underneath any item to save it to your profile.

You can also use your archive.org account to leave reviews on the items that you come across. If you want to share your love for a specific 78 or classic film, simply click “Add Review” at the bottom of the item page!

And More

Your Internet Archive account also allows you to:

Sign up for email newsletters and control what types of email you get (simply adjust your Account Settings)

-Post questions and messages to the Internet Archive forums

-Edit or delete items you have previously uploaded

-Archive “outlinks” of Web pages with the Wayback Machine’s Save Page Now feature

-Save archived Web pages to a public “My web archives” page

Start Exploring

Whether you’re interested in audiobooks, vintage video games, live concert recordings, or ancient manuscripts, the Internet Archive has something for everybody. Read this article for some more collections to check out—or just start exploring from the front page

We’re glad that you’ve joined our community and hope you find it useful. Enjoy the archive!

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day!

Today the United States commemorates the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr—one of history’s most influential advocates for peace, equality, and civil rights. As a free digital library, the Internet Archive is home to thousands of books, texts, videos, images, and other materials on his work and impact. Here are a few ways you can use our materials to celebrate the life of Dr. King!

Watch

Dr. King was a major participant in the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, one of the largest rallies for human rights in American history—watch original newsreel footage of the March here! You can also listen to part of a commencement speech Dr. King gave at Hofstra University in 1965 and see contemporary reporting on his receipt of the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize.

Read

The Internet Archive’s collection of texts contains thousands of works both by and about Martin Luther King Jr., ranging from books for children to collections of his speeches. Our new Marygrove College Library collection includes several books on Dr. King, as well as the Civil Rights Movement and social justice.

If you’re interested in reading more on the African-American experience, you can also check out the #1000BlackGirlBooks collection and the Zora Canon. We’ve created some handy resource guides that include Antiracist & Racial Equality Reading Lists and Racial Equality Books for Kids. Finally, through the Community Webs program, our partners at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture created the #HashtagSyllabusMovement web archive collection, which contains crowdsourced reading lists highlighting social justice issues within the Black community—a great place to start if you’re looking for antiracist reading material!

Contribute

The Internet Archive contains millions of items that have been uploaded, donated, or submitted by our users; your contributions make up a crucial part of our library. If you own any civil rights books, records, or physical media that you would like to see added to the archive, feel free to donate them! If you already have digital media—such as video, images, or audio of Martin Luther King Day celebrations or multimedia tributes—then feel free to upload it to the Internet Archive. And as always, if you see something online that you think should be added to our historical record, you can use the Wayback Machine’s Save Page Now feature to preserve it for posterity.

We hope you have a safe and happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Enjoy the archive!

-The Internet Archive Team


If you enjoyed this blog post and want to help support the Internet Archive, you can make a tax-deductible donation here. Thank you for helping us provide Universal Access To All Knowledge. 

Looking Back on 2020

2020 has been a year to remember—and as we approach the new year, we’re taking some time to reflect. In the spirit of giving, the Internet Archive has worked hard to give back to those who need our services most, and we’re incredibly grateful for those who have lent us a hand. Thanks to the support of our community, patrons, partners, and donors, we’ve been able to accomplish some significant achievements in the past twelve months. Here are a few highlights from a year nobody can forget.

Unprecedented Growth

In 2020 we grew from 40 million to 65 million public media items, including texts, images, videos, and audio files. Right now, we’re storing over 70 petabytes of data (equivalent to the contents of 186 million filing cabinets) and serve more than 1.5 million visitors daily. The Wayback Machine has grown rapidly, too; right now there are 475 billion web pages archived inside it, and we’re capturing another 750 million pages every single day! We made a number of improvements to our systems to handle this growth—this fall, we installed a fiber optic connection at our headquarters in San Francisco, allowing us to drastically expand our bandwidth in response to increased demand.

Some Literary Love

As a  library, we pay special attention to books, and this was a year to remember. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we launched the temporary National Emergency Library this spring. In the middle of a massive public health crisis, we provided digital access to essential books for students, teachers, library patrons, and quarantined citizens who were cut off from their libraries and schools. Educational professionals everywhere relied on us for access to digital materials, and the National Library of Aruba utilized our resources to provide study resources for thousands of students preparing to take high school graduation exams while their island was shut down.

New Collections

This year we also added to and expanded our collections with some fascinating new finds. In August, the Tytell Typewriter Company donated thousands of manuals, records, books, and even historic machines to be preserved for future generations. Marygrove College, a social-justice oriented liberal arts college that was forced to close this year, donated its entire library to be digitized and shared on the Internet Archive, reopening the stacks in October. And although support for Flash is ending in just a few weeks, this November we launched browser emulation for hundreds of games, animations, and other cultural artifacts—letting anyone take a trip back in time to the early 2000s.

Building a Better Web

In 2020, we also took steps to make the web a better, more reliable place. Through a partnership with Cloudflare, we made it possible in September for website creators to provide archived versions of their pages when the current site is down. A new integration in February allowed us to bring the Wayback Machine natively into the Brave web browser. And when alarms were raised about open access journals disappearing, we took steps to preserve crucial scientific knowledge for future use.

Paying It Forward

Finally, we had a record-breaking year when it came to philanthropy. Although the challenges we faced were greater than ever before, our donors stepped up in a big way. More than 73,000 people donated to the Internet Archive this year, making contributions big and small—from the thousands of patrons who gave a few dollars apiece, to a $250,000 gift from Fiona and Toby Lütke, founder of Shopify. We’ve been hard at work making sure that all donations are put to good use; when an anonymous donor this season asked that we invest a portion of his gift in our staff, we chose to pay it forward to promote diversity and equity. This year we also implemented new ways to donate, and came up with new ways our supporters can lend a hand without leaving the house. We’re so incredibly grateful for everybody who chose to help us out!


2020 has brought unprecedented challenges—but this year as in every year, the Internet Archive has been hard at work ensuring that trustworthy information is available to anybody who wants it. Thank you for supporting our preservation efforts.

Be safe, have a happy holiday season, and enjoy the archive!

Where Your Donation Goes

As an independent nonprofit library, the Internet Archive is powered by donations from individual users, and every little bit helps. But have you ever wondered how your donations are used? Or what impact your giving has on our work? The contributions we receive are crucial to continuing our mission—here are a few ways they help!

Infrastructure

The Internet Archive builds and maintains all of its own infrastructure, rather than contracting it out. Right now we’re holding more than 70 petabytes of data, including millions of books, hundreds of millions of webpages, and thousands of collections focused on everything from video gaming to opera music. That’s a lot of storage space!

The donations we receive help us purchase servers, provide bandwidth, and pay the electricity bills, so that anyone, anywhere, can access our resources. This year our systems have seen more use than ever before, and we were able to make some upgrades thanks to the generosity of our patrons. Your donations allow us to serve more than 1.5 million visitors every day!

Staff

All those servers need people to build and maintain them. The website needs programmers to develop it, the collections need archivists to organize them, and our patrons need librarians to answer their questions. We employ 150 people around the world to scan books, build software, maintain data centers, acquire new materials, and find ways to make the archive better for our users. That’s a small staff for one of the world’s top 300 websites—and in 2020, they’ve stretched even farther by working remotely to keep the archive online. Most of our employees could make more at a profit-driven company, but they’ve chosen instead to work at a nonprofit where every dollar counts and the mission comes first.

Our Projects

Most importantly, the generosity of our users is used to fund our work! These projects include the Wayback Machine, a crucial tool for preserving the history of the web. In an era of disinformation and misinformation, having documentation of what’s being said and who’s saying it is absolutely critical—and your donations help us keep the record straight.

We also use patron contributions to run the Open Library, a free, digital lending library of over 4 million eBooks that can be read in a browser or downloaded for reading off-line. It costs us just $20 to acquire, digitize, and preserve a book forever, making it available to readers around the world—and thanks to the contributions from our patrons, we’re always adding to the stacks!

Other projects that your donations fund include the Decentralized Web initiative, the TV News Archive, and our preservation of open access journals. We also use donations to help acquire, transport, and digitize special collections—such as ephemera from the Tytell Typewriter Company, the Marygrove College Library, or a dizzying array of 78 rpm records.

How to Help

If you’d like to make a donation to the Internet Archive, we’d greatly appreciate your support! Your contribution helps us survive, thrive, and keep growing. In addition to our online donations portal, there are several other options for how you can give. If you would like to make a securities donation or receive information about estate planning, email joy@archive.org. You can even donate using cryptocurrency!

If you’re unable to donate at the moment—or if you’ve already given—there are still ways you can lend a hand. Using Amazon Smile and setting the Internet Archive as your preferred charity will mean that we get a small donation every time you make a purchase. If your employer matches charitable contributions, you can easily double your impact—check your company here! And if you’re looking for more small ways you can help out, check out this blog post on how to make a difference right now without leaving the house.

We’re so grateful for each and every person who chooses to contribute to us. Thanks for your support, and enjoy the archive!

Peace, Love, and Quantum Physics

Promotional poster for Infinite Potential

In the middle of a tumultuous period, peace is more important than ever. This year, the Internet Archive celebrated the International Day of Peace with a screening of the film Infinite Potential: The Life & Ideas of David Bohm—an exploration of a maverick physicist who turned to Eastern wisdom for insights into the profound interconnectedness of the universe and our place within it. Hosted by the Fetzer Memorial Trust and Imagine Films on September 20th, the event also included a special panel discussion on how Bohm’s ideas can be translated into a pathway to peace in the modern world.

David Bohm

Infinite Potential examines the life of David Bohm, a theoretical physicist from Pennsylvania who was forced to flee the United States during the Cold War due to his Communist leanings. Pursuing his research in Brazil, Israel, and the United Kingdom, he was exposed to a wide variety of different ideas and ideologies, which all shaped his interests in quantum physics, philosophy, and the nature of consciousness. His relationships with thinkers such as Jiddu Krishnamurti and Albert Einstein further shaped his ideas, leading him to develop unique theories about the fundamental nature of reality and our perception of it.

The screening of the documentary was followed by a panel entitled Quantum Potential: A Pathway to Peace, featuring several prominent leaders and activists. These included Dot Maver, Founding President of the National Peace Academy; Reverend Dr. Michael B. Beckwith, Founder and Spiritual Director of the Agape International Spiritual Center; Audrey Kitagawa, Board Chair of the Parliament of World Religions; Civil rights leader Reverend Dr. Bernard LaFayette, Jr.; Bob Roth, CEO of the David Lynch Foundation; and Marianne Williamson, a bestselling author, political activist and spiritual thought leader. Panel members discussed how Bohm’s ideas could be applied to our society, ways in which individuals could advance peace and unity, and why the interconnectedness of humanity matters now more than ever.

Panel discussion—Quantum Potential: A Pathway to Peace

For those who were unable to attend the event, the panel discussion is available online. Additionally, the Internet Archive is home to a number of materials on David Bohm, including several of his writings. Finally, to learn more about our partners and the hosts of this event, browse the the Fezter Memorial Trust collections here.

Back to School With the Internet Archive

As students around the world resume their education, millions of learners are facing uncertainty about school schedules, class formats, and online study. As a nonprofit dedicated to Universal Access to All Knowledge, the Internet Archive provides a number of free resources for parents, students, teachers, and librarians around the world—check out these tools for remote learning!

For Parents

Do you have a budding history buff, wildlife biologist, artist, or stargazer on your hands? Looking for books to entertain and educate them with? We’ve created a number of handy resource guides on a range of subjects, from astronauts to zebras. You can also check out some previous compilations of our favorite collections!

Of course, one of the best ways to support your child’s education is by reading to and with them. The Internet Archive’s Open Library contains thousands of children’s books to check out and enjoy together.

For Students

If you need homework help, The Internet Archive has a huge array of textbooks and study guides. If you’re looking for primary sources to cite in your History assignments, our 26 million historical books and texts are a great place to start; if you’re trying to get through English class we also have thousands of works of literature from around the world.

And if you need a study break? We have a huge collection of educational software and computer games you can play around with. (Not to mention plenty of less-educational games, too!)

For Teachers and Educators

Over the past several months, the Internet Archive has collaborated with a number of educational specialists to determine how our collections can best serve teachers. If you’re trying to plan for an online semester, are wondering how to increase your students’ digital fluency, or want to prepare for long-term distance learning trends, you can find expert analysis and advice on our blog. And if you want to leverage the Open Library to get new material or find lesson plans to make curriculum preparation easier, our doors are always open.

For Librarians

As a nonprofit public library, we know that now more than ever, libraries and librarians matter. While digital librarians are facing unprecedented situations—and formerly analog librarians are being forced to adapt—we’re providing useful resources to library and archive professionals everywhere. You can learn more about how we can enhance course reserves on our blog, or browse our American Libraries archive to explore some of our partners’ collections. We proudly sponsor both Archive-It (an institutional web archiving solution) and the Open Libraries program (which allows libraries to expand their digital holdings using our collections). If you’d like to learn more about how the Internet Archive can help you provide more digital materials to your patrons, sign up for an upcoming webinar!


In these tumultuous times, we want to make sure that students have the tools they need to learn—and we couldn’t offer the resources we do without the help of our partners, donors, and supporters everywhere. Whether you’re looking for homework help, teaching via videoconference, or finding new ways to support your patrons, we hope that our collections prove useful to you.

Stay safe and healthy, and thanks for using the archive!

Things To Do Outdoors With The Internet Archive

Summer is in full swing, but in many areas recreational facilities are closed and gatherings limited. Wondering how to stay entertained when movie theaters, pools, summer camps, amusement parks, playgrounds, concerts, and sporting events are all canceled or closed? The Internet Archive has a huge number of resources that you can use to make your own fun. Here are a few ideas for activities you can do in small groups, outdoors, for free, AND while using our collections!

Go On a Nature Walk

Want to know what kind of rock that is? Ready to try your hand at birdwatching? Curious if any of the plants near your house are edible? Our collections include dozens of field guides and identification books—go on a walk and see how many different flowers, insects, mushrooms, or trees you can find!

Break Out the Sidewalk Chalk

Chalk art has experienced a renaissance during this pandemic, with artists of all ages expressing themselves on the pavement. If you want some inspiration, check out these videos of local chalk art festivals—or browse art from one of our museum image collections. Here are some watercolors from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, paintings from the City Museum of Quito, drawings from the Cleveland Museum of Art, and new additions from the Brooklyn Museum.

Read Outside

There’s nothing quite like a good book enjoyed in the shade of a leafy tree. Grab a blanket, hammock, or lawn chair; pick a title from the Internet Archive’s Open Library; and go read something fun at the beach, on a hilltop, in your city park, by a flower patch, in the woods, next to a river, or even just in your own backyard.

Take Up Gardening

Whether you have a huge patch of soil or a small pot on your windowsill, gardening is a great way to relieve stress and connect with the outdoors. We have a huge selection of books and magazines on gardening, whether you’re an expert horticulturist or just getting started.

Listen to Audiobooks

The Internet Archive is home to thousands of recordings from Librivox—an organization of volunteers that turns public domain texts into free audiobooks. Take a long drive and listen to classic novels such as Treasure Island, Little Women, or Frankenstein. Go on a hike while enjoying books about nature like Walden or The Call of the Wild. Or have a picnic while listening to poetry from the world’s greatest writers.

Turn On the Grill

You don’t have to have a crowd to enjoy some barbecue! Learn some new cooking skills by checking out our huge collection of grilling recipe books. If you don’t have a grill, you can make some summer cocktails instead and sip them on the patio—or you can grab some kindling and learn how to cook over a campfire.

Tell Some Tales

While the fire is going, go ahead and break out your best campfire stories! The Internet Archive has a wide range of folktales, short fiction, and spooky ghost stories. If you want to brush up on your skills, check out our how-to books about storytelling, or browse these recordings of storytelling festivals!

Have an Outdoor Movie Night

If you have a projector and a sheet (or a tent and a tablet computer) go ahead and have a movie night outside! Our video collections include a huge array of silent movies, classic comedies, and animated cartoons—so pop some popcorn and enjoy one of our feature films!

See The Stars

Stargazing is the perfect way to wrap up a summer evening. If you want a guide to the night sky, check out these books on constellations and amateur astronomy. And if you can’t get a good view of the sky from where you’re at, then browse our NASA collections to enjoy a view of the cosmos from wherever you are.

And More

These suggestions just scratch the surface of what’s available in the Internet Archive. If you want more ideas for entertaining activities, check out these books with ideas for outdoor activities. If you’d rather stay indoors, here’s a list of things to do without leaving the house. And of course, there’s no telling what you might find just by wandering through archive.org. Have a great summer, and enjoy the archive!

100 Great Books From African American Women

Ida B. Wells, Toni Morrison, and Zora Neale Hurston are just three of the authors whose works appear in the Zora Canon.

From the earliest days of American literature, Black women have made invaluable contributions—although their work was often discounted, criticized, or ignored. To counter this history, the online publication Zora (named for author Zora Neale Hurston) created The Zora Canon, a collection of the 100 most prominent books written by African American women. Even better, most of these books are available to check out for free on the Internet Archive!

“To our knowledge,” write the editors of Zora, “no one has ever compiled a comprehensive list specifically featuring the finest literary works produced by African American women authors. We decided to undertake that effort both to honor that still underappreciated group of writers and to provide [readers] with a handy reference guide to their work. ”

The books were compiled in consultation with a panel of academics, critics, authors, editors, and authorities on African American women’s literature, who each added to the final list. The result was 100 works spanning more than a century and a half in a huge variety of genres and styles, including novels, plays, poetry, memoirs, anthologies, and scholarly works. “Taken together,” write the editors, “the works don’t just make up a novel canon; they form a revealing mosaic of the Black American experience during the time period. They’re also just great reads. ”

As part of our commitment to offering Universal Access to All Knowledge, the Internet Archive works to share literature from diverse perspectives—which is why we were pleased to discover that most of the books in the Zora Canon are already available in our collections. Many of them are available for checkout—all you have to do is sign up for a digital library card—while a few are in the public domain, allowing anybody to download them without limitation. Some of the books that aren’t yet available can be added through our Book Sponsorship program, so that future readers can discover and enjoy them. 

If you’d like to read some of the books on the list, check out the links below! If you want to expand your reading further, you can also browse our #1000 Black Girl Books Collection (which features a range of books with Black girls and women as the protagonists) or our full list of works by Zora Neale Hurston. Happy reading!


The Zora Canon

A Mercy by Toni Morrison

A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry

A Voice From the South: By a Black Woman of the South by Anna Julia Cooper

African American Music: An Introduction by Mellonee V. Burnim and Portia K. Maultsby

Ain’t I a Woman?: Black Women and Feminism by bell hooks

All Bound Up Together: The Woman Question in African American Public Culture, 1830–1900 by Martha S. Jones

All the Women Are White, All the Blacks Are Men, But Some of Us Are Brave edited by Gloria T. Hull, Patricia Bell Scott, and Barbara Smith

Blacks by Gwendolyn Brooks

Blood Dazzler by Patricia Smith

Blue-Chip Black by Karyn R. Lacy

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

Brown Girl, Brownstones by Paule Marshall

Coming of Age in Mississippi by Anne Moody

Corregidora by Gayl Jones

Dark Matters: On the Surveillance of Blackness by Simone Browne

In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens: Womanist Prose by Alice Walker

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs

Invisibility Blues: From Pop to Theory by Michele Wallace

Iola Leroy by Frances Harper

Jubilee by Margaret Walker

Killing the Black Body by Dorothy E. Roberts

Linden Hills by Gloria Naylor

Magical Negro by Morgan Parker

Maud Martha by Gwendolyn Brooks

Meridian by Alice Walker

Moses, Man of the Mountain by Zora Neale Hurston

Native Guard by Natasha Trethewey

Oreo by Fran Ross

Our Nig by Harriet E. Wilson

Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler

Parable of the Talents by Octavia E. Butler

Passing by Nella Larsen

Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in School by Monique W. Morris

Quicksand by Nella Larsen

81. Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward

Race After Technology by Ruha Benjamin

Radiance From the Waters: Ideals of Feminine Beauty in Mende Art by Sylvia Ardyn Boone

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor

Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward

Sassafrass, Cypress, and Indigo by Ntozake Shange

Selected Poems by Gwendolyn Brooks

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde

Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

Sula by Toni Morrison

Sweat by Lynn Nottage

Tell My Horse: Voodoo and Life in Haiti and Jamaica by Zora Neale Hurston

The Black Christ by Kelly Brown Douglas

The Black Woman: An Anthology by Toni Cade Bambara

The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton edited by Kevin Young and Michael S. Glaser

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

The Ethnic Project: Transforming Racial Fiction Into Ethnic Factions by Vilna Bashi Treitler

The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin

The Flagellants by Carlene Hatcher Polite

The Heart of a Woman by Maya Angelou

The House of Dies Drear by Virginia Hamilton

The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander

The Red Record by Ida B. Wells

The Salt Eaters by Toni Cade Bambara

The Selected Poems of Nikki Giovanni: 1968–1995 by Nikki Giovanni

The Street by Ann Petry

The Third Life of Grange Copeland by Alice Walker

The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson

The Women of Brewster Place by Gloria Naylor

Waiting to Exhale by Terry McMillan

Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments by Saidiya Hartman

We a BaddDDD People by Sonia Sanchez

Whatever Happened to Interracial Love? by Kathleen Collins

When and Where I Enter: The Impact of Black Women on Race and Sex in America by Paula Giddings

Where We Stand: Class Matters by bell hooks

White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson

Women, Race, and Class by Angela Davis

Zami: A New Spelling of My Name by Audre Lorde

Happy 404 Day! 

Saturday is April 4th (4/04), and here at the Internet Archive we’re marking a new holiday: 404 Day! We’re using this date to celebrate the work that’s being done to end the dreaded 404 error, record changing webpages, and preserve the internet for all to enjoy. We spoke with Gary Price—librarian, editor of InfoDocket, and a prolific user of the Wayback Machine—about why web archiving is important and how ordinary people can fight back against “link rot.” 

Preserving the Past

Why does the Wayback Machine matter? “We’re in a period right now where the tools the Internet Archive has developed are more important than ever before,” Price said. “In my work as a librarian I’ve learned how easily things can ‘disappear’. Something you see could be removed within a fraction of a second, and the next time you look it’s gone.”

An old hymnal board at the Internet Archive's 
headquarters—filled in with HTTP response codes
An old hymnal board at the Internet Archive’s
headquarters—filled in with HTTP response codes

Similar losses have happened for newly developed media in the past, Price explained. For example, a huge amount of early television footage disappeared because nobody recorded or archived it at the time. The issue is compounded when dealing with a massive system like the Internet, which is constantly growing and changing. “There’s really nothing like the Wayback Machine,” he said. “It’s so important for historical purposes.”

Price believes that it’s even more crucial to preserve information in the midst of a crisis. “With COVID-19,” he said, “we have a global event going on where nobody knows how it’s going to end. Most of it is going to play out on the Internet. If we don’t archive it now, the record for the future is not going to be as complete as it could have been. We need to make it so that we’ll have a complete record of this pandemic to learn from: primary documents, news reports, local materials, and digital ephemera.”

Making the Most of the Wayback Machine

There are a number of useful tools that can make the Wayback Machine part of your daily internet experience. If you want to avoid running into 404 errors in the future, then the easiest thing you can do is integrate the Wayback Machine into your browser. We’ve created a handy series of browser extensions for Safari, Chrome, and Firefox that allow you to view archived versions of webpages with just the click of a button. And if you use the Brave browser, that functionality is directly integrated into the browsing experience!

The Wayback Machine browser extension
The Wayback Machine browser extension in action

Curious about how a webpage has shifted over time? The Changes feature is an easy way to compare two versions of the same webpage side-by-side. We deployed this feature last fall to make it easier than ever to see how the web is evolving.

In addition to the hundreds of millions of URLs archived by the Wayback Machine staff every day, several tens of millions of URLs are archived because they were submitted by the general public via the Save Page Now feature. If you come across something that you think needs to be preserved, you can use this tool to ensure that the Wayback Machine captures a snapshot of it. It’s as simple as visiting web.archive.org/save and pasting your desired URL in. If you have the browser plugin, you can save any page you visit with the click of a button!

The Save Page Now feature
The Save Page Now feature

Getting Started

What advice does Price have for beginning archivers? “The first thing to do,” he says, “is to sign up for an Internet Archive account. It gives you a lot of great features, but my favorite is the option to not only archive a page, but also to archive all of those outbound links in that page.”

Price also recommends that new users make their archiving personal. “Just start recording things you’re already looking at on a daily basis! The articles you read, interesting websites, information pages from your university, local news, and so on. It doesn’t take a long time—you’re already reading the webpage, so just press the ‘Save Page Now’ button.”

Since big news stories or major websites are usually crawled automatically, Price recommends that citizen archivists make sure to include local, personal, and small-scale websites. “It’s about the little stuff, the obscure stuff, the stuff that’s buried three layers deep. That’s not going to get covered in the same way as the most popular content, and it might not get covered at all if you don’t add it. That’s why the individual doing it is so important.”

Last but not least, Price says, “Do what you can! Add stuff that you’re interested in or think is worth saving. Make it a habit, and spread the word to people you know!”

If you want to celebrate 404 Day with us, there are a lot of ways to get started! Download the Firefox, Chrome, or Safari browser extensions, save a webpage, revisit the past, or make a donation to help us keep the Wayback Machine humming along.

Happy archiving!

One of the earliest captures of AOL.com
One of the earliest captures of AOL.com