The Project

The BitCurator project is a 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 many digital forensics tools. There are already many cases of self-contained Linux-based packages that bundle many of the tools in order to support digital forensics activities. However, they are not very approachable to library/archives professionals in terms of interface and documentation.

There are two fundamental needs for collecting institutions that are not addressed by software designed for the digital forensics industry: incorporation into the workflow of archives/library ingest and collection management environments, and provision of public access to the data.

The BitCurator project is an effort to build, test, and analyze systems and software for incorporating digital forensics methods into the workflows of a variety of collecting institutions. Two groups of external partners will contribute to this process: a Professional Expert Panel (PEP) of individuals who are at various levels of implementing digital forensics tools and methods in their collecting institution contexts, and a Development Advisory Group (DAG) of individuals who have significant experience with development of software.

BitCurator is defining and testing support for a digital curation workflow that begins at the point of encountering holdings that reside on removable media—either new acquisitions or materials that are within a repository’s existing holdings—and extends to the point of interaction with an end user. BitCurator will address both tools required at the point of initial data extraction and back-end tools for batch processing of disk images.

BitCurator is funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The Software

BitCurator is built on a stack of free and open source digital forensics tools and associated software libraries, modified and packaged for increased accessibility and functionality for collecting institutions. Features of BitCurator include:

  • Pre-imaging data triage
  • Forensic disk imaging
  • Filesystem analysis and reporting
  • Identification of private and individually identifying information
  • Export of technical and other metadata

These tools are incorporated into the environment and workflow mapping in a modular fashion. Most are mature; as individual tools age, become deprecated, or lose support from upstream developers, they can be replaced without significantly altering the functionality of the environment.

Related Resources

Applying Digital Forensic Techniques to Digital Collections

Forensic Corpora Research and Educational Resources

Toolkits, Libraries, and Other Resources

  • Sleuthkit
  • Open Source Forensics Conference



BitCurator is committed to accessible design, both for our software and websites.

To that end, we have performed an accessibility evaluation on our latest project website design, adding features such as high-contrast and gray-scale page toggling and better handling of page zooming. With our software, we perform usability testing with a variety of users and endeavor to provide simple, clear documentation to help archivists understand what’s going on “inside the box” of our software and how it impacts their work.

We invite you to contact us with any suggestions for accessibility improvements to the site or software!