Introducing Peter Webster

A few words of introduction as I join the OA | OA team, in response to Gary’s very generous invitation. I started my academic life as an historian of early modern English religion, but in recent years have carried many of the same preoccupations into the twentieth century. My interests are now in British religious history since 1945, with a particular focus on the Anglican church, the religious arts, and evangelicalism. I have two forthcoming books: one on Michael Ramsey, archbishop of Canterbury, due in 2015; and a second on Walter Hussey, dean of Chichester cathedral and the most significant Anglican patron of the arts in the twentieth century.

Despite all this research, my career has not been a traditional SAS_Brochure2012academic one, which explains in part the involvement in this blog. My first job was as a web developer for a digitisation project, when such things were new and exciting. I then moved to London to work on the British History Online project at the Institute of Historical Research (also digitisation, but on a much larger scale.) Alongside that, I took on the management of the institutional repository for the School of Advanced Study at the University of London, and its open access journal platform, SAS Open Journals. As a result, I found myself more and more drawn into the debates on open access publishing as they played out in the UK, and in relation to the humanities. A flavour of my thinking may be found on my blog.

Subsequently, I have been professionally involved in the archiving of the web, as part of the UK Web Archive team at the British Library, and as program officer for the International Internet Preservation Consortium. My central interest throughout was understanding what use scholars, particularly in the humanities, were going to make of the archived web as a new class of primary source. This led me to set up Web Archives for Historians, in conjunction with Ian Milligan of the University of Waterloo (Ontario, Canada). (See some of my blogging on web archiving.)

Most recently I have set up a new consultancy, Webster Research and Consulting, which helps libraries, archives and researchers understand what their users need from digital resources for research, and then to build better services to meet those needs.

These are exciting times in digital scholarship, and I look forward to the journey in theology and religious studies, and helping a little by means of this blog.


Historian of twentieth century Britain; interested in digital history, open access publishing, web archives. Tweets @pj_webster

Posted in Interviews (Scholars)
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