The Millennium Watch Institute was founded in 1992 by independent scholar Ted Daniels, who earned his graduate degrees from the University of Pennsylvania in 1981 and 1985. In a 1997 interview with NewHeavenNewEarth, Daniels explained the idea for creating the Millennium Watch Institute came to him while working during an internship at Folkways Records in 1987. "...it came to me with utter certainty that, as the calendar millennium approached, a lot of people were going to get worked up about the end of the world, and there ought to be a clearing house where people could go to receive factual information on what was happening."
Daniels began to collect ephemera from various end-of-the-world cults, anti-government militias, UFO societies, religious groups, and other related cults and movements in order to document the diversity of expectations surrounding the year 2000. He used the material to write Millennialism: An International Bibliography in 1992 and A Doomsday Reader: Prophets, Predictors and Hucksters of Salvation in 1997. Daniels also reviewed some of the 1200 printed and electronic sources the Institute collected in its newsletter, Millennium Prophecy Report.
When the year 2000 arrived and the predictions failed to materialize, the Millennium Watch Institute was no longer needed to document this movement.