Archives Unleashed Cohorts

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Big Data, in the form of born-digital historical sources, is reshaping the humanities and social sciences. The sheer amount of cultural information that is generated and, crucially, preserved every day in electronic form, presents exciting new opportunities for historians, political scientists, sociologists, linguistics, computer scientists, and other scholars. Much of this information is captured within web archives, created by organizations such as the Internet Archive and many other libraries.

The Archives Unleashed project is pleased to announce the launch of the Cohort Program, which will facilitate research engagement with web archives. Cohorts will engage in a year-long collaboration while receiving mentorship and support from the Archives Unleashed Team.

Program Details

We are looking to select up to five cohorts in the July 2021 to June 2022 period who will receive the following support:

  • Participate in cohort events which will provide an introduction to web archives and an opportunity to workshop draft work in a supportive environment.
    • Opening event: virtual, due to COVID-19 [July 2021]
    • Closing event: Internet Archive, San Francisco, California, United States [Tentatively May 2022]
  • Bi-monthly mentorship and support meetings with the Archives Unleashed team;
  • Access to the Archive-It Research Cloud to generate custom datasets; and
  • Funding of $11,500 CAD to support project work. Additional support will be provided for travel to the Internet Archive event.

It is expected that all teams will prepare a journal-length article submission as part of this project, which will be developed throughout the term and workshopped at the closing event at the Internet Archive.

The Cohorts

The Cohorts can be disciplinary or interdisciplinary and should include no more than five individuals. Graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and those in precarious or sessional positions are welcome to apply; however, an administrative lead must be in place at an institution eligible to administer and receive grant funds. This would regularly be a full-time faculty member.

The University of Waterloo regards diversity as an integral part of academic excellence and is committed to accessibility for persons with disabilities. As such, we encourage applications from women, First Nations, Metis and Inuit peoples, persons with disabilities, members of diverse gender identities, and others who may contribute to the further diversification of ideas.

The Data: With our recently announced integration with Archive-It, data available for use will primarily be institution web archive collections in Archive-It ( Additional datasets from the overall Wayback Machine and Internet Archive may also be available. We are happy to work with applicants to address any questions; please connect with Samantha Fritz.


Important Dates

  • Applications Due: 31 March 2021
  • Notifications: 15 April 2021
  • Projects Begin: 1 July 2021
  • Projects End: 30 June 2022

Prepare your submission package using the Cohort application, which addresses the following areas:

  • Project name and list of all applicants;
  • Identifies an administrative lead (needs to be eligible to administer and receive grant funds);
  • CV for each named applicant (max 2 pages each) and can be attached to the email or appended to the application PDF; and
  • Project proposal:
    • Project Summary: describe the research problem you aim to approach with web archives (max. 500 words);
    • Dataset: identify the web archive collection you plan to use to explore your project (max. 250 words); and
    • Timeline: provide a brief overview of how you will conduct the project (max. 250 words).

All completed applications should be submitted to Samantha Fritz by 11:59 PM Eastern on 31 March 2021.

Submissions will be evaluated on the following criteria:

  • demonstration of a feasible project that will make an impact on the scholar’s field of study;
  • the selection of specific web archives to help achieve that project;
  • suitability of the project team to learn and carry out planned activities; and
  • suitable documentation of a web archival collection that can support this research.

Project Inspiration

Need some ideas to inspire your Cohort proposal? We’ve listed a few recent projects to showcase the variety of ways web archives can be explored, used, and visualized.


We’ve provided help with the most common questions about the Cohort application. Still have questions? Feel free to reach out to our team on Slack or connect with Samantha Fritz.


Q. I’ve never been to an Archives Unleashed Datathon or collaborated with the project before, can I still apply?

A. Absolutely! The Cohort program is a completely different setting for engaging in web archives research, so applicants don’t have to have attended any of our events. We are very flexible on the makeup of your cohort; co-applicants can be disciplinary/inter-disciplinary, multi-institutional, and at various career stages. Just remember that there needs to someone on the grant who can administer funds.

Q. I’m not in Canada! Can I still apply?

A. Absolutely, you do not need to be at a Canadian institution to apply. If you have questions about your eligibility, please do feel free to ask us.


Q. What kind of collections should be used for project proposals?

A. We recommend that applicants prioritize using existing curated web archive collections stewarded by Archive-It Partners. We may be able to extract data from the broader Wayback Machine, but this will be dependent on both the scope of what’s to be extracted (keep it very circumscribed and limited as possible) as well as resources. In some cases, if data requests are big, we may be able to support this but might need to reallocate some of the grant funding to support engineering time.

Organizers & Sponsors

  • Ian Milligan (University of Waterloo)
  • Jefferson Bailey (Internet Archive)
  • Nick Ruest (York University)
  • Jimmy Lin (University of Waterloo)
  • Samantha Fritz (University of Waterloo)

Cohort Sponsors