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Automating description for Web Archives in ArchivesSpace using the Archive-It CDX and Partner Data APIs


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Automating description for Web Archives in ArchivesSpace using the Archive-It CDX and Partner Data APIs

  • demonstrates how to make Partner Data API requests in Python

  • is a command line tool for requesting data from the partner data

  • partnerData.exe and partnerData.bin are binary executables of the command line tool for Windows and Unix systems respectively.

  • automatically creates ArchivesSpace records for new captures with provenance information from the Partner Data API. Only requires:

    • Any resource or archival object assigned to a specific subject to denote it as a Web Archives Record
    • A Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements note that lists the original page URL

Overview of Partner Data API calls

  • All API calls start with the root URL
  • All calls accept format param for json, xml, csv (&format=json, &format=xml, &format=csv)
  • If you login to Archive-It in the browser, you can view these calls by pasting them into your browser


Useful Params:
  • ?account=652 (limit to partner ID)
  • ?id=7082 (limit to collection ID)
  • ?created_by=gwiedeman (limit to created by specific user)


Useful Params:
  • ?collection=6372
  • ?account=652 (requires login)



Scoping Rules

Useful Params:
  • ?collection=6372

This is a sample script to demonstrate the simplest way to request data from the Archive-it Partner Data API


  • Python 2 or 3
  • requests library
  • Does not require an Archive-it account to view some public data

Basic Use

  1. Enter your Archive-It account credentials on lines 5-7
  2. Edit the request URL on line 15 state a valid URL from the Partner Data API calls above. The default should return data on the University at Albany, SUNY Website collection.
  3. run python from the command line

partnerData command line tool


  • Binary files should have no prerequisites, except an Archive-It account for non-public endpoints
  • .exe for windows, .bin for Linux which should work on OSX but is untested
    • Windows may give security error notice for unsigned exe
  • Login credentials can be stored in local_settings.cfg as detailed below, or entered with -a account -u user -p password flags
  • requires requests and configparser

Basic Use


  • Python users change examples from partnerData to python
  • Windows users change examples from partnerData to .\partnerData.exe
  • Mac/Linux users change examples from partnerData to ./partnerData.bin


  • -h help manual
  • -t type of request. Accepts collection, seed, crawl, host_rule, scope_rule. Defaults to collection.
  • -l limiter url params (can use multiple, ampersand (&) is optional)
  • -a Archive-It account
  • -u Archive-It user
  • -p Archive-It password
  • -f Output format, accepts json, xml, csv. Defaults to json.
  • -o Option to output a text file, accepts file path


without local_settings.cfg:

  • must include: -a account -u user -p password
  • such as: partnerData -a account -u user -p password -t collection -l id=6372

with local_settings.cfg:

  • partnerData -t collection -l account=652
  • partnerData -t collection -l account=652 -f csv
  • partnerData -t collection -l id=6372
  • partnerData -t seed -l collection=3308
  • partnerData -t crawl -l id=303101
  • partnerData -t crawl -l id=303101 -o C:\output\path\crawl.json
  • partnerData -t scope_rule -l collection=6372 type=DOC_LIMIT

This script looks for a specific subject in ArchivesSpace and if the archival objects assigned to that subject have a phystech note with the URL of the web archives collection, it will append child objects for each unique capture with details from <meta> tags and provenance information from the Archive-It partner data API. It will add digital objects with links to archives web pages, and finally it will update dates and extents for all parent objects.


Requires an Archive-It account and API access to an ArchivesSpace instance. Settings need to be specified in a local_settings.cfg file. Also requires


  • Clone the archives_tools repo
    • git clone
  • Change to the archives_tools directory and install the library (this will also install requests and configparser dependencies).
    • cd archives_tools
    • python install
  • Install Beautiful Soup 4
    • pip install beautifulsoup4
  • Clone the describing WebArchives repo
    • git clone
  • Change into repo directory
    • cd .. (if still in archives_tools directory)
    • cd describingWebArchives

Setting up local_settings.cfg

All scripts require a local_settings.cfg text file that contains login credentials for both ArchivesSpace and Archive-It as well as some additional params. An example is provided in the repo. This is modeled after how I've seen a number of places store credentials for the ASpace API with the addition of an Archive-It section.

  • Use local_settings-example.cfg as a template

    baseurl: http://localhost:8089
    repository: 2
    user: admin
    password: admin
    target_subject: Web Collection
    subject_source: local
    extent_type: captures
    	The item contains web archives preserved as WARC files. They must be access though web archival replay tools such as the "Wayback Machine." The links here direct you to files hosted by the Internet Archive, but you may also request WARC files.
    	Web crawling is managed through the Internet Archive's Archive-It service.
    	Researchers interested in data analysis with web archives may request a WARC file. WARC files are very large and difficult to work with. Your request may take time to process, and we may be unable to deliver your request remotely. Please consult an archivist if you are interested in advanced research with web archives.
    	This crawl was performed by the Internet Archive, not the UAlbany web archiving program, so the provenance is unknown.

[ArchivesSpace] section

  • baseURL is URL of your ASpace instance with 8089 as the port to access the backend API
  • repository is the ASpace repository you'd like to update, default is 2
  • user and password are ASpace credentials with API permissions

[Archive-It] section

  • account is your Archive-It partner ID. UAlbany's is 652
  • user and password are your Archive-It credentials
  • target_subject is the local subject that must be assigned to Web Archives Records you want to update
  • subject_source limits target subjects to a certain source such as "local"
  • extent_type is the lable for the extent that will be updated in ArchivesSpace, make sure this extent present in your ASpace controlled values list or it will fail
  • access_requirements this is a generic Access Restrictions note
  • warc_restrict_note is a separate Access Restrictions note applied for records of WARC files. This lets you apply an additional restriction warning for WARC file requests.
  • acqinfo_note this is a generic Acquisition Information note that will be added to web archives parent records if one is not already present.
  • general_internet_archive_note this is a Acquisition Information note applied to records that are in the general Internet Archive Collections, essentially designed to say why there is limited provenance information for these.

Setting up ArchivesSpace

  • Requires a local subject denoted in local_settings.cfg as target_subject.
  • Subject can be assigned to an web archives record, resource or archival object.
  • Record must have a Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements note with the label "URL" and the original URL of the website you are describing as a subnote.

Running the script

  • This script is designed to be scheduled as a Windows Task or cron job.
  • Can also just be run with python
  • Should not try on production instance without testing.


  1. Adds Records for General Internet Archives captures with description from any <meta> tags, date from CDX timestamp, provenance note from local_settings.cfg, and digital object with direct link to content.

  1. Adds Records for each unique Archive-it capture with description from any <meta> tags, date from CDX timestamp, provenance note from Partner Data API, and digital object with direct link to content.
    • Post-July 2015 records with crawl number in CDX have scoping rules, crawl, type, download failures, queued documents, etc.

  1. Adds WARC Record with same provenance information and WARC access note from local_settings.cfg

  1. Updates inclusive dates and extents for parent archival objects, with optional acquisition note from local_settings.cfg.

  1. Updates inclusive dates and extents for resource.


Comments and pull requests welcome.


Greg Wiedeman


This project is in the public domain


Thanks to Jefferson Bailey and the Archive-It staff for sharing the API endpoints.


Automating description for Web Archives in ArchivesSpace using the Archive-It CDX and Partner Data APIs







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