The BitCurator project is an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation funded joint effort led by the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (SILS), and the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH) to develop a system for collecting professionals that incorporates the functionality of digital forensics tools and methods. The application of digital forensics to digital preservation allows librarians and archivists to build on existing efforts that are already concerned with core archival principals such as attention to authenticity, verifiability of the digital object, and the preservation of file-level metadata.

Over phase one of the project (October 2011 – September 2013), the BitCurator team developed the BitCurator Environment, a highly customized Linux distribution that includes a suite of open source digital forensics applications and enhancements to increase the usability of these mostly command-line tools. Specifically, the BitCurator team added customized file analysis capabilities to the Nautilus file browser, developed a graphical front-end for many of the open source digital forensics tools included in the BitCurator Environment, and added the ability to generate both machine and human readable reports out of the digital forensics metadata generated by the tools above. Phase two of the project (October 2013 – September 2014) has included ongoing development of the BitCurator Environment and dedicated outreach and training efforts to help build a sustaining user community around these tools.

As a Digital Humanities research center, MITH’s involvement in the BitCurator project reflects a sustained interest in the preservation of our digital cultural heritage. MITH project also focused on digital preservation include MITH’s Vintage Computers collection, the housing of early electronic literature pioneers Deena Larsen and Bill Bly’s papers (traditional and born-digital), and most recently the Digital Humanities Digital Curation workshops.


Edited by: Alex Gil

Text by: Porter Olsen