National History Day, weebly, and the preservation of digital records

Homepage of as of September 11, 2019

In my newsletter back on August 14th, I noted that National History Day had sent me an email asking for “donations since their relationship with Weebly,” which had provided their website creation platform, after a ten year run, in hopes that such donations could pay a developer so they could create their own “website creation platform…by November 1, 2019,” costing $150,000 in total. I then realized that I still had one website on the platform. In the past, I had already transferred my website about the space race (which I created for the 2010 National History contest) to a separate weebly account. But, I hadn’t done that for my one on the war on drugs (which I created for the 2011 contest). I saved most of the pages using the wayback machine of the Internet Archive in almost desperation, but as a second attempt, I tried to log in to my old account.

This post was originally written in September 2019, but was slightly changed and fixed up in December 2022. It is being published on here for the first time.

To my surprise, the log-in worked and I was able to edit the site in all its functions. But, I wondered if this site could be sustained. Will it last on weebly forever? Will I always be able to edit it? So, I contacted the weebly people for assistance, to see what they would say.

What the login page looked like when I logged in on September 11, 2019

I sent them a short message on September 11 about my issue:

So, I have an old website for NHD ( that I would like to transfer to a domain. I would appreciate help with this, so I can preserve the website and its contents going forward. I look forward to hearing from you.

Right after, I received a a confirmation that they are “working on responding to you as soon as possible.” As I awaited their response, I saved the website’s pages on the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, specifically the

Then, on September 16th, I received an email from Dakota of Weebly Policy Support, telling me that “unfortunately there is no way to convert NHD at this time or to connect a domain name in the current NHD account. Please go to the following link for further information about the NHD program and sites,” providing a link to a page about this from their help site.


Basically, their “solution” was for you to send an email archive of your website to yourself, which I had already done, with an email of my website titled “The export of your site is ready to be downloaded” with a zip file attached. But what happened after that? They didn’t answer that question. For me, that would have involved creating a whole new weebly website with the same content, something which I didn’t want to do. So, I did the next best thing: I used webrecorder, which I had learned about in an appraisal class of my spring semester at UMD as part of my graduate school studies for a Master of Library and Information Science, with a concentration in Archives and Digital Curation. I created a public collection of the website, with the bottom picture showing what it looks like when you visit it online, presently:

I created a collection, which I arranged into lists, although its obviously not the same as viewing the original website itself, as some videos didn’t even show up.  For instance, while internal videos work just fine, the video of Hemp for Victory, shown below, on the Timeline page, NEVER shows up! To be clear, I’m not saying I endorse these videos, but rather I am adding them as examples of content that Webrecorder is not capturing, showing one of its flaws.

Similarly, a video on “Is It a Conspiracy?” page, where a Former LAPD detective argues that the CIA has dealt drugs throughout U.S. didn’t appear in the Webrecorder archive either as it never showed up on the page when I went to archive it. In another instance, the video of a Harvard Economist saying that all drugs should be legalized, on my Viewpoints page, was never part of the Webrecorder archive either:

Strangely, the video on the “who benefits” page showed up in Webrecorder, despite these others not showing up. Of course, there is also the issue of dead video links across the website, which neither webrecorder nor internet archive can solve, as it means those videos were taken down from YouTube.

That led to my last attempt to archive this content: moving it to a new home, my YouTube channel, apart from the one video I had uploaded there, which used to be on my NHD website at one time. So, I aimed to upload them, choosing the most historical videos of the lot, cropping others for length, to make them better.

And the preservation continues onward. I look forward to your comments and would love suggestions on how I can preserve this website going forward.

© 2019-2023 Burkely Hermann. All rights reserved.