The Occasio Digital Social History Archive is the Internet archive of the IISH. It is a collection of newsgroup messages on social, political and ecological issues distributed on the internet. The project was launched in 1995, following a suggestion by Tjebbe van Tijen, when the Antenna Foundation, at the request of the IISH, started to collect and store APC conferences (newsgroups) and material about the wars in the former Yugoslavia. Its aim was to preserve important social and political digital documents and to make them accessible to historians and social scientists. The Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) provided initial funding. As a result, 2,300,000 messages from 2,300 newsgroups dating from 1986-2002 are now available for research. They deal with labour issues, human rights, poverty, development, war and peace, health issues, the environment, women’s and gender issues, regional news, ethnic and religious minorities, media, art, and much, much more.
Nearly all messages were distributed by the Association for Progressive Communications (APC), an international partnership of independent communication networks, of which Antenna was the Dutch representative. A part of the archive is related to the wars in the former Yugoslavia, where peace groups used the Internet to exchange information and to help people find their lost relatives. This collection can be accessed separately.
The Occasio archive is available online. Private APC conferences, however, can only be consulted at the premises of the International Institute of Social History, in compliance with the Institute’s regulations.
Occasio is an archival collection, so users cannot reply to the messages or post new ones. Antenna and the IISH, however, will continue to collect new messages from newsgroups and mailing lists on social and political issues. In the near future, these documents will also become available from the Occasio webpages.