April 13th, 2021 marks the entry of the first TikTok into William & Mary’s Special Collections web archives. The video was created as a part of the University’s annual fundraising campaign, One Tribe One Day, and was posted to the Virginia Institute of Marine Science TikTok account (@marinescience_vims). The TikTok features a performance by VIMS alum David Niebuhr, putting a spin on a TikTok trend where creators use a popular sea shanty, “The Wellerman,” in the creation of their video content. Niebuhr sings a version—modified to celebrate VIMS—dubbed “The Watermen.” Niebuhr’s sea shanty pays tribute to VIMS’s coastal conservation efforts, referring to the institute’s community as “folks who saved the sea, right there on the shores of the Chesapeake.” Oysters, one of the Chesapeake’s keystone species, and the ecologically significant blue crab, are also referenced in “The Watermen,” highlighting two key areas of VIMS research.
Joining Niebuhr in the shanty-singing festivities are other W&M and VIMS alumni, each group tackling a different verse. You can find their musical contributions to One Tribe One Day at the VIMS YouTube account, where they are compiled in a handy playlist.
The TikTok can be accessed via William & Mary’s Archive-It profile, under the “University Archives Websites” collection. Special Collections utilizes the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine to preserve this TikTok and a variety of web content like it. Each “capture” is an interactive version of the webpage as it existed on that date, useful when tracking change over time, or finding content that may have been deleted. Perusing the University’s web archives is a great way to get a snapshot of the very-recent past.
Post written by Student Assistant, Alex Daniels.