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How to get the best out of UNHCR’s web-archive

Image © UNHCR/L. Bernier

The basics

From the homepage of the web-archive you have the following options:

  • Search the web-archive - allows you to search through all the archived websites in the archive.
  • Browse A-Z of archived websites - allows you to view a list of all archived websites. Clicking on the name of the website will take you to a timeline that shows you the captures for the site.
  • Search social media archive - allows you to search for content in the social media captures in the archive.
  • Twitter archive - allows you to view all Twitter accounts captured in the archive.
  • YouTube archive - allows you to view all YouTube accounts captured in the archive.
  • Clicking Web or Social in the top right corner of the page gives you the same options as the tiles.

To browse content in the web-archive:

  • Select the site you wish to browse in the A-Z list and click on the entry.
  • Clicking on the entry will take you to a timeline that shows captures of the selected site. Clicking on the years will expand the timeline and show the dates that the site was captured on.
  • To view a capture on a particular day, click on the blue box with the date in it.
  • You can then browser the website as you would a live site. Some aspects of the site may not work, for example, search boxes that were on the site.

To browse content in the social media archive:

  • Select the social media account that you wish to view and click on it.
  • Clicking on the account will bring up a list with all the captured posts from that site.
  • It is possible to refine the posts being shown by using the date range selector and sort options at the side of the feed.

Search tips

Here are a few hints and tips for using the web-archive in other ways:

  • If you know the exact URL that you want to look at but not what to search for on that page, then you can go to the timeline for that URL without going through the search engine. For example, if you want to see all the captures for, then you can add the URL of the live site to*/, then this will bring up a complete overview of all the captures of that site.
  • The web-archive shows all the dates that a site has been captured, but these may sometimes be only partial captures of a site. This is due to the crawler sometimes capturing bits and pieces of other websites as it is archiving a targeted URL. This is because of the nature of how websites are interlinked, and as the crawler finds embedded content.
  • A "Document not found" message may appear when navigating the archive, indicating resources that UNHCR has not archived. This is the case for content hosted on sites that are not operated by UNHCR.
  • The date of capture may change as you navigate the archive, since the archives are interconnected and interlinked. If a resource has not been archived on a particular date, the web-archive software points you to the closest resource for the content that is missing.

Accessing the web-archive via the Adlib catalogue

An alternative access point for the web-archive is through UNHCR’s Adlib catalogue, available here:

All websites and social media accounts are catalogued after each capture is published in the portal and thus are searchable in the archives catalogue. The catalogue entry provides additional information and metadata about the site and capture.

Alternate sources of information

It may not always be possible to find the content that you are looking for in UNHCR’s web-archive. Whilst UNHCR’s Records and Archives Section has been capturing content since 2015, UNHCR has had an online presence since the 1990s. It should also be noted that UNHCR’s Records and Archives Section does not capture all of UNHCR’s web-content on a daily basis.

Here are suggested alternatives to visit if you cannot find what you’re looking for:

  • If you are looking for content from pre-2015, then the Internet Archive ( has been archiving web-content since 1996, including UNHCR’s first website, and could be a good place to try.
  • If you are searching for specific multimedia content, such as a certain photograph, then Refugees Media is UNHCR’s online database for multimedia assets. This would be a good alternative location to check for multimedia content that cannot be found in the web-archive.
  • If you still cannot find what you are looking for, then it is also possible to contact and the team may be able to help with your query.