Ian Milligan

Associate Professor of History

University of Waterloo

About me

Ian Milligan’s primary research focus is on how historians can use web archives. He is the principal investigator of the Archives Unleashed project. Milligan teaches courses in historical methodology, postwar Canada, and digital history, and supervises graduate students in diverse areas including web history, digital methods, postwar Canadian history, video games, and childhood studies. In 2016, he was awarded the Canadian Society for Digital Humanities Outstanding Early Career Award and in 2019 he received the Arts Excellence in Research award from the University of Waterloo. Milligan held an Ontario Early Researcher Award between 2015 and 2020.

He lives in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada with his partner, son, and daughter.

You can read his full CV here.


  • Web archives and web history
  • Digital history and digital humanities
  • How technology is changing the historical profession


  • PhD in History, 2012

    York University

  • MA in History, 2007

    York University

  • BA (Hon) in History, 2006

    Queen's University

Recent Posts

My earlier blog was a Wordpress blog at http://ianmilli.wordpress.com.

Review of History in the Age of Abundance in Internet Histories

Max Kemman, a recent PhD and now researcher/consultant (with a great and active blog), has just published a review of History in the …

Re-Posted from the Conversation: Don’t despair if your teen wants to major in history instead of science

Ian Milligan, University of Waterloo It might be your worst nightmare. Your child, sitting at the kitchen table, slides you a brochure …

A Blast from the Past: My SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellowship Application

The most popular thing I probably ever wrote on my old site was my SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellowship statement of interest. So here it is …

Hello World: Welcome to my new Site

After ten years of blogging (seriously) at the WordPress.com version of ianmilligan.ca, the time has come for a new look and platform …

Re-Posted from the Conversation: Historians’ archival research looks quite different in the digital age

Our society’s historical record is undergoing a dramatic transformation. Think of all the information that you create today that will …


History in the Age of Abundance: How the Web is Transforming Historical Research

Believe it or not, the 1990s are history. As historians turn to study this period and beyond, they will encounter a historical record that is radically different from what has ever existed before. Old websites, social media, blogs, photographs, and videos are all part of the massive quantities of digital information that technologists, librarians, archivists, and organizations such as the Internet Archive have been collecting for the past three decades.

SAGE Handbook of Web History

The SAGE Handbook of Web History marks the first comprehensive review of this subject to date. Its editors emphasise the two different forms of its study: the use of the web as an historical resource, and the web as an object of study in its own right. Bringing together all the existing knowledge of the field, with an interdisciplinary focus and an international scope, this is an incomparable resource for historians and students alike.

Exploring Big Historical Data: The Historian’s Macroscope

The Digital Humanities have flourished at a moment when digital big data is becoming easily available. Yet there is a gap in the scholarly literature on the ways these data can be explored to construct cultural heritage knowledge, for both research and in our teaching and learning. We are on the cusp of needing to grasp big data approaches to do our work, whether it’s understanding the underlying algorithms at work in our search engines, or needing to design and use our own tools to process comparatively large amounts of information. This book fills that gap, and in its live-writing approach, will set the direction for the conversation into the future.

Rebel Youth: 1960s Labour Unrest, Young Workers, and New Leftists in English Canada

While university-based activists combined youth culture with a new brand of radicalism to form the New Left, young workers were pressing for wildcat strikes and defying their aging union leaders in a wave of renewed militancy that swept the country. In Rebel Youth, Ian Milligan looks at these converging currents, demonstrating convincingly how they were part of a single youth phenomenon. With no fewer than seventy interviews complementing the extensive use of archival records, this book reveals a youth current that, despite regional differences, spanned an intellectual network from Halifax to Victoria that read the same publications, consulted the same thinkers, and found inspiration in the same shared ideas.

Current Digital Projects

Archives Unleashed

Archives Unleashed aims to make petabytes of historical internet content accessible to scholars and others interested in researching the recent past. Supported by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, we are developing web archive search and data analysis tools to enable scholars, librarians and archivists to access, share, and investigate recent history since the early days of the World Wide Web. Please visit our website for more information. Principal Investigator (w/ Nick Ruest and Jimmy Lin)

Continuing Education to Advance Web Archiving (CEDWARC)

Supported by the IMLS LB21 program, the CEDWARC project develops a continuing education curriculum and teaches library and archive professionals advanced web archiving and analysis techniques. We will offer one in-person training workshop and multiple online training workshops throughout the project period. Details about the project. Co-Investigator (grant led by Zhiwu Xie at Virginia Tech)

A Longitudinal Analysis of the Canadian World Wide Web as a Historical Resource, 1996-2014

This project will help train highly-qualified personnel (HQP) in the humanities to prepare for the digital deluge that is already affecting our profession. It was among the first attempts to harness data in ways that will enable present and future historians to usefully access, interpret, and curate masses of born-digital primary sources. Principal Investigator (w/ Nick Ruest and William J. Turkel)

Recent Courses

Note: I have been teaching at a reduced rate over the last three years, due to two parental leaves (July-October 2017 and August-December 2019) and course reductions due to the Archives Unleashed project.

HIST 216: A Long History of the Internet

New Online Course! The Internet has enabled global connection on an unprecedented level. To live and innovate in a society dominated by network communications requires understanding from where we have come. Yet, as Google executives Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen have noted, “the Internet is among the few things humans have built that they don’t totally understand.” (Schmidt and Cohen)

While the technological story of the rise of the Internet and the Web today is important – our course touches on early computing, theories of hypertext, the ARPANET, and the networking revolutions of the 1980s and 1990s – the longer human story is equally critical. How has the concept of information evolved? How has print media emerged and evolved? How have humans communicated over time and space? How have common standards evolved, allowing people across the globe to communicate with each other?

Previously taught Fall 2018 and Winter 2018.
See course page

ARTS 490: Socio-Cultural Implications of Artificial Intelligence

We have seen exponential growth in the automation of jobs, from the manufacturing to the service sector, and the consequent transformations of our everyday lives, including the displacement of human labour. We are also witness to new cultural forms ranging from gaming devices to companion robots. It’s clear then that the socio-cultural and political impacts of such trends deserve our attention – as students, scholars, policy makers, and practitioners.
See course page

Recent & Upcoming Talks/Events

For a full list of talks and presentations, please see my CV.

Archives Unleashed Datathon - Montreal (IIPC)

This event will bring together a small group of participants to experiment with the newest release of the Archives Unleashed Toolkit …

Archives Unleashed Datathon - New York City

The World Wide Web has had a profound impact on how we research and understand the past. The sheer amount of cultural information that …

Computing Cultural Heritage in the Cloud Advisory Board Meeting

I’m honoured to be on the advisory board for this remarkable project. Our first meeting is in February.

Becoming a Desk(top) Profession: Digital Photography and the Changing Landscape of Archival Research

Visiting a reading room in the last five years is a very different experience than what they looked like even fifteen years ago. While …



  1. Emily Maemura, Nicholas Worby, Ian Milligan, and Christoph Becker, “If These Crawls Could Talk: Studying and Documenting Web Archives Provenance,” Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, Vol. 69, Issue 10, May 2018.
  2. Gabriel A. Devenyi, Rémi Emonet, Rayna M. Harris, Kate L. Hertweck, Damien Irving, Ian Milligan, Greg Wilson, “Ten Simple Rules for Collaborative Lesson Development.” PLOS Computational Biology, Vol. 14, Number 3, March 2018.
  3. Jimmy Lin, Ian Milligan, Jeremy Wiebe, and Alice Zhou. “Warcbase: Scalable Analytics Infrastructure for Exploring Web Archives,” ACM Journal of Computing and Cultural Heritage, Vol. 10, Issue 4, July 2017.
  4. Nick Ruest and Ian Milligan. “An Open-Source Strategy for Documenting Events: The Case Study of the 42nd Canadian Federal Election on Twitter.” Code4Lib Journal, Issue 32, April 2016.
  5. Ian Milligan, Nick Ruest, and Anna St-Onge. “The Great WARC Adventure : Using SIPS, AIPS and DIPS to document SLAAPs.” Digital Studies/Le champ numérique, Vol. 6, 2016.
  6. Ian Milligan. “Lost in the Infinite Archive: The Promise and Pitfalls of Web Archives.” International Journal of Humanities and Arts Computing, Vol. 10, No. 1-2 (2016): 87—94.
  7. Ian Milligan. “‘A Haven for Perverts, Criminals, and Goons’: Children and the Battle for and Against Canadian Internet Regulation, 1991-1999.” Histoire Sociale/Social History, vol. 47, No. 96 (May 2015): 245—274.
  8. Ian Milligan. “Illusionary Order: Online Databases, Optical Character Recognition, and Canadian History, 1997-2010.” Canadian Historical Review, Vol. 94, No. 4 (December 2013): 540—569.
  9. Ian Milligan. “Mining the Internet Graveyard: Rethinking the Historians’ Toolkit.” Journal of the Canadian Historical Association, Vol. 23, No 2 (2012, published in 2013): 21—64. Winner, 2013 Journal of the Canadian Historical Association Best Article Prize.
  10. Ian Milligan. “Coming off the Mountain: Forging an Outward Looking New Left at Simon Fraser University.” BC Studies, Vol. 171 (Autumn 2011): 69—91.
  11. Ian Milligan. “‘This Board Has a Duty to Intervene,’ Challenging the Spadina Expressway Through the Ontario Municipal Board, 1963-1971.” Urban History Review/Revue d’histoire urbaine, Vol. 39, No. 2 (Spring 2011): 25—37.
  12. Ian Milligan. “‘The Force of All Our Numbers:’’ New Leftists, Labour, and the 1973 Artistic Woodwork Strike.” Labour/Le Travail, Vol. 66 (Fall 2010): 37—71.
  13. Ian Milligan. “Sedition in Wartime Ontario: The Trials and Imprisonment of Isaac Bainbridge, 1917-1918.” Ontario History, Vol. 66 (Autumn 2008): 150—177.

Book Chapters

  1. Ian Milligan and Tom J. Smyth, “Studying the Web in the Shadow of Uncle Sam: The Case of the .ca Domain,” in The Historical Web and Digital Humanities: The Case of National Web Domains, eds. Niels Brügger and Ditte Laursen (London: Routledge, 2018).
  2. Ian Milligan, “Learning to ‘See’ the Past at Scale: Exploring Web Archives through Hundreds of Thousands of Images,” in Seeing the Past with Computers, ed. Kevin Kee and Timothy Compeau (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2018): 116-136.
  3. Ian Milligan. “Historiography and the Web,” in SAGE Handbook of Web History, eds. Niels Brügger and Ian Milligan. London: SAGE Publications, December 2018: 3-15.
  4. Ian Milligan. “Exploring Web Archives in the Age of Abundance: The Case of GeoCities,” in SAGE Handbook of Web History, eds. Niels Brügger and Ian Milligan. London: SAGE Publications, December 2018: 344-358.
  5. Ian Milligan and Robert Warren. “Big Data and the Coming Historical Revolution: From Black Boxes to Models,” in Big Data in the Arts and Humanities: Theory and Practice, eds. Giovanni and Daniela Carlucci. Boca Raton: CRC Press (Taylor & Francis Group), March 2018.
  6. Ian Milligan. “Welcome to the Web: The Online Community of GeoCities and the Early Years of the World Wide Web,” in The Web as History, edited by Ralph Schroeder and Niels Brügger. London: UCL Press, March 2017.
  7. William J. Turkel and Ian Milligan. “The Challenge of ‘High-Throughput’ Computational Methods,” in Education and Understanding: Big History Around the World, edited by Barry Rodrigue, Leonid Grinin, and Andrey Korotayev. New Delhi: Primus Books, 2016.

Computer Science Conference Publications

  1. Ryan Deschamps, Samantha Fritz, Jimmy Lin, Ian Milligan, and Nick Ruest. “The Cost of a WARC: Analyzing Web Archives in the Cloud.” Proceedings of the ACM/IEEE Joint Conference on Digital Libraries, Vol. 19 (2019): 261-264.
  2. Ian Milligan, Nathalie Casemajor, Samantha Fritz, Jimmy Lin, Nick Ruest, Matthew S. Weber, and Nicholas Worby. “Building Community and Tools for Analyzing Web Archives through Datathons.” Proceedings of the ACM/IEEE Joint Conference on Digital Libraries, Vol. 19 (2019): 265-268.
  3. Emily Maemura, Christoph Becker, and Ian Milligan. “Understanding Computational Web Archives Research Methods Using Research Objects,” IEEE Big Data Workshop in Computational Archival Science, IEEE Big Data, December 2016.
  4. Ian Milligan, Nick Ruest, and Jimmy Lin. “Content Selection and Curation for Web Archiving: The Gatekeepers vs. the Masses.” Proceedings of the ACM/IEEE Joint Conference on Digital Libraries, Vol. 16 (2016): 107—110.
  5. Andrew Jackson, Jimmy Lin, Ian Milligan, and Nick Ruest. “Desiderata for Exploratory Search Interfaces to Web Archives in Support of Scholarly Activities.” Proceedings of the ACM/IEEE Joint Conference on Digital Libraries, Vol. 16 (2016): 103—106.
  6. Ian Milligan. “Finding Community in the Ruins of GeoCities: Distantly Reading a Web Archive.” Bulletin of IEEE Technical Committee on Digital Libraries, Vol. 11, Issue. 2 (October 2015).

Technical Contributions

  1. Ian Milligan and James Baker. “Introduction to the Bash Command Line.” Programming Historian, September 2014.
  2. James Baker and Ian Milligan. “Counting and Mining Research Data with Unix.” Programming Historian, September 2014.
  3. Shawn Graham, Scott Weingart, and Ian Milligan. “Getting Started with Topic Modeling and MALLET.” The Programming Historian, September 2012.
  4. Ian Milligan, “Automated Downloading with Wget,” The Programming Historian, August 2012.


  1. Ian Milligan, “Historians’ archival research looks quite different in the digital age,” The Conversation, August 2019.
  2. Ian Milligan, “Getting Ready to Study the Age of Abundance,”Canadian Issues/Themes Canadiens, Fall/Winter 2018: 36-39.
  3. Ian Milligan, “The Problem of History in the Age of Abundance,” The Chronicle of Higher Education, December 2016.
  4. Ian Milligan, “Open Data’s Potential for Political History,” Canadian Parliamentary Review, vol. 37, no. 4 (2014).
  5. Shawn Graham, Ian Milligan, and Scott Weingart, “Writing The Historian’s Macroscope in Public,” Perspectives on History: The Newsmagazine of the American Historical Association, October 2014.
  6. Ian Milligan, “Does History Matter? Pioneering Research on Canada’s Attitudes Towards Bygone Days,” Literary Review of Canada, May 2014: 28—29.
  7. Ian Milligan, “Exploring the Web Through the Programming Historian,” Canadian Historical Association Bulletin, October 2013.
  8. Ian Milligan, “Archives: Preserve Our Digital Heritage,” Nature, 497 (16 May 2013).


  1. Ian Milligan, “Review of Lara Campbell, Dominique Clément, and Gregory S. Kealey, eds., Debating Dissent: Canada and the Sixties (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2012)”, in Canadian Historical Review, Vol. 94, No. 4 (December 2013).
  2. Ian Milligan, “Review of Benjamin Isitt, Militant Minority: British Columbia Workers and the Rise of a New Left, 1948-1972 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2011)”, in Histoire Sociale/Social History, Vol. 46, No. 92 (November 2013).
  3. Shawn Graham and Ian Milligan, “Review: MAchine Learning for LanguagE Toolkit (MALLET),” in Journal of Digital Humanities, Vol. 2, No. 1 (Spring 2013).
  4. Ian Milligan, “Review: “The Alberta Federation of Labour’s Centennial Website: A Fantastic Resource (if you can find it),” in Oral History Forum/Forum d’histoire orale 33 (2013).
  5. Ian Milligan, “Review of Jefferson Cowie, Stayin’ Alive: The 1970s and the Last Days of the Working Class (New York: New Press, 2010)”, in Labour/Le Travail, Vol. 69 (Spring 2012): 235—237.
  6. Ian Milligan, “Review of Paul Mason, Live Working or Die Fighting: How the Working Class Went Global (Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2010)”, in Labor History, Vol. 52, No. 3 (September 2011): 361—363.
  7. Ian Milligan, “Review of James Pitsula, New World Dawning: The Sixties at Regina Campus (Regina: Canadian Plains Research Centre, 2008)”, in Canadian Historical Review, 90:4 (December 2009): 818—820.
  8. Ian Milligan, “Review of Ian McKay, Reasoning Otherwise: Leftists and the People’s Enlightenment in Canada, 1890-1920 (Toronto: Between the Lines, 2008)”, H-Canada, February 2009.


You can send me an e-mail at i2milligan@uwaterloo.ca or use the form below.