ABOUT THE ARCHIVE
ACROSS THE DECADES – 50 YEARS OF DATA ARCHIVING
In 2017 the UK Data Archive celebrates 50 years of data archiving
The UK Data Archive started life in 1967 as the Social Science Research Council Data Bank. In the early 1960's the Social and Economic Archive Committee was investigating the problem of sharing information and data generated by social surveys and recommended that an archive dedicated to social and economic research should be created to capture these data and make them available to researchers. The University of Essex was chosen as the location for this new data archive as it could provide staff, a physical location and computing expertise.
The 1970's was a time of growth in empirical social science research. In these early years the UK Data Archive experienced difficulties in developing its data collection due to the high standards it required from deposits, an immature culture of data sharing and restrictions on the use of certain studies. The turning-point in developing the collection came when the Government Statistical Service enabled government surveys to pass to the Archive.
The 1980's saw a broader range of data being deposited. The Archive actively encouraged increased use of secondary data and promoted a greater acceptance of data sharing - two principles that are still key to our success today. The 80's also saw the Archive branch out in to collaborative data-orientated projects, including the Domesday Project and Rural Areas Database.
The Archive extended its activities again in the 1990's through the formation of the History Data Service and an expansion of teaching and learning activities.
The Data Archive became the UK Data Archive in the 2000's, recognising its role in the international data community and in 2005 it was designated a place of deposit for public records for the National Archives. 2007 saw the Archive move into a new purpose-built social science research centre
The last 10 years have seen the UK Data Archive become the lead organisation in the UK Data Service, providing unified access and support to data users and researchers across the world. The Archive continues to work closely with a key data organisations around the UK and has become a recognised international centre of expertise in curating, preserving and giving access to data.