Associate professor and primary investigator of the web archives for historical research group

Ian Milligan speaking at the Library of Congress.Ian Milligan is Associate Professor in the Department of History at the University of Waterloo. His primary research focus is on how historians can use web archives. He teaches courses in historical methodology, postwar Canada, and digital history, and supervises graduate students in diverse areas including postwar Canadian history, video games, and childhood studies. In 2016, he was awarded the Canadian Society for Digital Humanities Outstanding Early Career Award. He also holds an Ontario Early Researcher Award.

He is principal investigator of the Web Archives for Historical Research group, which is supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation. Between 2013 and 2018, Milliganhas received over a million dollars as principal investigator in federal, provincial, and foundation funding.

His first book, Rebel Youth: 1960s Labour Unrest, Young Workers, and New Leftists in English Canada, was published in 2014 by the University of British Columbia Press. Ian’s second peer-reviewed book, Exploring Big Historical Data: The Historian’s Macroscope, a handbook aimed at demystifying digital methods, appeared in late 2015 with Imperial College Press. He wrote this with Shawn Graham (Carleton) and Scott Weingart (Carnegie Mellon). In 2018, the co-edited (with Niels Brügger) collection SAGE Handbook of Web Historywill appear. 

Ian has an extensive record of service at the national and international level, serving as a member on Library and Archives Canada's Acquisitions Advisory Committee, has served as co-Program Chair for the ACM/IEEE Joint Conference on Digital Libraries (Toronto, 2017), and is a member of the Canadian Research Knowledge Network's Preservation and Access Committee. In 2018/19, he will serve on Compute Canada's Expert Review Panel for the Research Platforms and Portalsprogram. 

At the University of Waterloo, Ian sits on the Faculty of Arts Tenure and Promotion Committee and the University Senate.

Ian regularly blogs at and tweets (semi?) professionally at @ianmilligan1


  • B.A. (Hons) Canadian History, Queen's University, 2006
  • M.A. Canadian History, York University, 2007
  • PhD Canadian History, York University, 2012

Research and teaching interests

  • Canada
  • Digital
  • Social Movements

Courses taught

  • HIST 109 Ten Days That Shook the World
  • HIST 216 (Long) History of the Internet
  • HIST 250 The Art and Craft of History
  • HIST 303  Digital History
  • ARTS 490 Socio-Cultural Implications of AI (forthcoming)
  • HIST 602 Canadian History II

Key Areas of Graduate Supervision

  • Postwar Canada
  • Digital history
  • Historical methodologies
  • Internet/Web history

Recent publications


  1. Niels Brügger and Ian Milligan, eds. SAGE Handbook of Web History. London: SAGE Publications, January 2019. In production.
  2. Shawn Graham, Ian Milligan, and Scott Weingart, Exploring Big Historical Data: The Historian’s Macroscope. London: Imperial College Press, 2015.
  3. Ian Milligan, Rebel Youth: 1960s Labour Unrest, Young Workers, and New Leftists in English Canada. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2014. Shortlisted, 2015 Sir John A. Macdonald Prize, Canadian Historical Association.

Peer-Reviewed Articles

  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. Accepted and forthcoming. [Preprint here]
  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. “Historiography and the Web,” in SAGE Handbook of Web History, eds. Niels Brügger and Ian Milligan. London: SAGE Publications, January 2019. Forthcoming.
  2. Ian Milligan. “GeoCities,” in SAGE Handbook of Web History, eds. Niels Brügger and Ian Milligan. London: SAGE Publications, January 2019. Forthcoming.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Peer-Reviewed Computer Science Conferences

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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).

Peer-Reviewed 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.


Milliganhas also written professional contributions or book/web/software reviews for the Canadian Parliamentary ReviewPerspectives on History, the Literary Review of Canada, the Canadian Historical Association BulletinNatureOral History ForumLabor History, the Canadian Historical ReviewLabour/Le Travail, the Journal of Digital Humanities, and Histoire Sociale/Social History. He has presented at numerous international conferences and workshops.

Ian's work has appeared in the media, including CBC's The Current and Spark.


$1,555,025 CAD total in grant funding (as either PI, co-PI, or named partner); $1,160,772 CAD as Principal Investigator.

    • Institute of Museum and Library Services, Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program (“Continuing Education to Advance Web Archiving”). Principal Investigators: Zhiwu Xie and Edward Fox, Partners: Los Alamos National Lab Research Library, Old Dominion University Department of Computer Science, the University of Waterloo Department of History, the Internet Archive, and George Washington University Libraries. $248,451.00 USD, or $314,824 CAD. 2018 – 2020.
    • Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Scholarly Communications Program (“Archives Unleashed Project”). Principal Investigator: Ian Milligan, Co-Principal Investigators: Nick Ruest and Jimmy Lin. $610,625. 2017-20.
    • Microsoft Research, Microsoft Azure Research Award (“Web Archives for Longitudinal Knowledge”). Principal Investigator: Ian Milligan. $20,000 USD, or $26,804 CAD. 2016-17.
    • Compute Canada, Research Platforms and Portals Competition (“Web Archives for Longitudinal Knowledge”). Principal Investigator: Ian Milligan, Co-Principal Investigator: Nick Ruest (York University). $11,635. 2016-19.
    • Arts and Humanities Research Council (UK) (“Born-Digital Data and Methods for History and the Humanities”). Principal Investigator: Jane Winters (University of London), Co-Investigator: Tobias Blanke (King’s College, London), Main Partners: Sonia Ranade (National Archives of the UK), Anne Alexander (University of Cambridge), James Baker (University of Sussex), Ian Milligan (University of Waterloo), Jason Webber and Jonathan Pledge (British Library), Peter Webster (Webster Research and Consulting). £32,210 GBP, or $60,125 CAD. 2016-17.
    • Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Connection Grant (“Unlock Your Web Archives Hackathon”), Principal Investigator: Ian Milligan, Co-Investigators: Jimmy Lin (University of Waterloo), Matthew Weber (Rutgers University), Nathalie Casemajor (Université du Québec en Outaouais), Nicholas Worby (University of Toronto). $23,715 CAD. 2015-16.
    • Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Insight Grant (“A Longitudinal Analysis of the Canadian World Wide Web as a Historical Resource, 1996-2014”). Principal Investigator: Ian Milligan, Co-investigators: Nick Ruest (York University), William Turkel (Western University). $257,541 CAD. 2015-20.
    • Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation, Early Researcher Award (“A Longitudinal Analysis of the Canadian World Wide Web as a Historical Resource, 1996—2014”). $150,000 CAD. Principal Investigator: Ian Milligan. $150,000 CAD. 2015-20.
    • Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Connection Grant (“New Directions in Active History: Institutions, Communication, and Technologies”). Principal Investigator: Thomas Peace (Huron University College), Co-Investigators: Ian Milligan, Jim Clifford (University of Saskatchewan), Daniel Ross (York University), Kaleigh Bradley (York University), Krista McCracken (Algoma University), Andrew Nurse (Mount Allison University). $19,304 CAD. 2015-16.
    • Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Insight Development Grant (“An Infinite Archive? Developing HistoryCrawler to Explore the Internet Archive as a Historical Resource”). Principal Investigator: Ian Milligan, Co-Investigator: William Turkel (Western University). $74,952 CAD. 2013-15.
    • University of Waterloo/Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Institutional Block Grant (SEED Grant for same project as above), June 2013 — June 2015. Principal Investigator: Ian Milligan. $5,500 CAD. 2013-15.

    Awards and achievements

    • Outstanding Early Career Award, Canadian Society for Digital Humanities, 2016.
    • Shortlisted for the John A Macdonald Prize in best Canadian historical non-fiction writing, Canadian Historical Association, 2015.
    • Outstanding Performance Award, University of Waterloo, 2014.
    • Best Article in the Journal of the Canadian Historical Association award, Canadian Historical Association, 2013.
    • Avie Bennett Historica-Dominion Institute Scholarship in Canadian History, 2011-2012.

    Keynote Addresses

    1. "Web Archives and History: Why Big Data Requires Big (Interdisciplinary Thinking)," Plenary Address at Association of Canadian Archivists Annual Conference 2018, Edmonton AB. June 2018.
    2. “Big Data and History (‘Or How this Historian Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Big Data,” Keynote at SFU Library Love Your Data Week 2018, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby BC. February 2018.
    3. “Learning to Collaborate (or why you should hang out with librarians,” Keynote at Digital Pedagogy Institute 2017, Brock University, St. Catharines ON. August 2017.
    4. “Archives Unleashed: Unlocking Born-Digital Sources through Interdisciplinary Collaboration,” Keynote at Canadian Society for Digital Humanities, University of Calgary, Calgary AB. May 2016.
    5. “Lost in the Infinite Archive? Web Archives for Historical Research Today… and Tomorrow,” Keynote at Web Archives 2015: Capture, Curate, Analyze, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor MI. November 2015.
    6. “Preparing for the Infinite Archive: Social Historians and the Digital Deluge,” Keynote at Tri-UniversityHistory Conference: New Approaches to History, University of Guelph, Guelph ON. March 2013.

    Professional affiliations

    • American Historical Association (AHA).
    • Association for Computers and the Humanities (ACH).
    • Association for Computing Machinery (ACM).
    • Association for Literary and Linguistic Computing (ALLC).
    • Canadian Historical Association (CHA).
    • Canadian Society for Digital Humanities (CSDH).
    University of Waterloo

    Profiles by type