Creating a Professional Training Program and Research Initiative on the study of the Black web, Archiving the Black Web Receives $2.5 Million grant from the Mellon Foundation

March 8, 2023 — Archiving the Black Web (ATBW), co-developed by Makiba Foster, librarian of The College of Wooster and Bergis Jules, an archivist and a founding member of Shift Collective, has been awarded a $2.5 million grant from the Mellon Foundation to develop a continuing education training program in web archiving that is aimed at memory workers collecting archival content documenting Black life, history, and culture. In addition, the project will undertake a research initiative with the goals of mapping, describing, and producing scholarship about the Black web. The goal with this phase of ATBW is to diversify and increase the number of web archiving practitioners and collections that focus on the Black experience, as well as bring together scholars and archivists who want to increase understanding, collections, and scholarship about how Black people use digital communication technologies.

ATBW is driven by an urgent call to action to establish a more equitable and accessible web archiving practice to effectively document the Black experience. The expansive growth of the web and social media coupled with the wide use of these platforms by Black people presents significant opportunities and responsibilities for collecting institutions who are interested in documenting Black life and experiences online. Addressing the importance of this collaborative project, ATBW’s Principal Investigator, Makiba Foster states, “The ever-expanding role of the digital space within our daily lives requires memory workers to acquire skills to help them document and preserve this public knowledge. Our work is to create preservation pathways for those committed to documenting Black life as well as uniting with scholars to collaboratively define Black experiences on the web. ATBW’s ability to build a diverse interconnected network of people and organizations is made possible through the support of the Mellon Foundation. This funding enables ATBW to continue the critical work of education, practice, and research related to digital Blackness.”

Work on this grant project will be led by Makiba Foster (The College of Wooster Libraries), Bergis Jules (Shift Collective), and Dr. Meredith Clark (Northeastern University’s Center for Communication, Media Innovation and Social Change). Leading different aspects of the work, key partners representing diverse memory collecting organizations include community-based archives with Yusef Omowale (Southern California Library), public libraries with Derek Mosley (Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History), and Historically Black Colleges and Universities with Holly Smith (Spelman College Archives). These organizations and their staff represent who ATBW hopes to impact through this project.

About The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation is the nation’s largest supporter of the arts and humanities. Since 1969, the Foundation has been guided by its core belief that the humanities and arts are essential to human understanding. The Foundation believes that the arts and humanities are where we express our complex humanity, and that everyone deserves the beauty, transcendence, and freedom that can be found there. Through our grants, we seek to build just communities enriched by meaning and empowered by critical thinking, where ideas and imagination can thrive. Learn more at

About The College of Wooster
Founded in 1866, The College of Wooster offers a comprehensive liberal arts education in a vibrant residential setting that culminates in a senior capstone project of in-depth research inquiry or creative expression. Working one-on-one with a faculty mentor, every student creates and presents new knowledge in their field of interest. Through this distinctive program, Wooster students develop abilities valued by employers and graduate schools: independent judgment, analytical ability, creativity, project-management and time-management, and strong written and oral communication. Students connect academic learning to the real world through internships, research fellowships, career pathways, and other experiential opportunities, and they forge lifelong bonds with one another, faculty, coaches, and staff in an environment that fosters diversity, equity, and inclusion. Among the most international campuses in the country and one of the top two most international in Ohio, the College enrolls approximately 2,000 students from 47 states and 77 countries.

Katrina Spencer

Katrina Spencer

Librarian for African American & African Studies at the University of Virginia

Katrina Spencer works as the Librarian for African American & African Studies at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville. As her TikTok consumption reveals, she enjoys well presented meals, pursuing a diasporic lens, questioning the hegemony, and good-natured comedy. Find out more about me at and @Katleespe on Twitter.

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