Performing Arts Web Archives at the Library of Congress
This guide describes digital collections of web archives related to the performing arts, how to navigate the collections, potential research questions, and how web archives relate to Music Division holdings.
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Melissa Wertheimer, Music Reference Specialist & Web Archives Collection Lead, Music Division
Created: September 24, 2021
Last Updated: September 22, 2022
Websites play a special role as evidence of culture and creativity. In the performing arts, websites include content specific to the field, such as concert programs, multimedia of performances and compositions, press kits and promotional materials, repertoire lists, biographical sketches, discographies, tour calendars, and more. Web archives are rich resources necessary to fully research, understand, explore, and document the performing arts in the 20th and 21st centuries.
Websites are born-digital records that are uniquely ephemeral - they can change or disappear at any time. Web archiving uses technology to create copies of websites so that the information, look, and feel of the content is both preserved and accessible. Web archive collections are curated digital collections that can be either event-based to document a specific moment in time or thematic to bring together related web archives with shared subjects.
The Library of Congress began its web archiving program in 2000. In 2011, the Music Division's participation in the program began with the Performing Arts Web Archive. Music Division staff curate three ongoing web archive collections and contribute performing arts content to Library-wide multi-disciplinary collections.
Web archive collections are accessible through the Library of Congress Digital Collections. Most performing arts web archives are available to offsite users. Select web archives are only available to onsite visitors at the Library of Congress through a reading room computer or while connected to the Library's free Wi-Fi network.