Barnard College and Columbia University “Hack the Canon,” Adding Women’s History to Wikipedia

by Dorothy Howard, Wikipedian-in-Residence, METRO

Barnard College and Columbia Library’s Studio@Butler hosted Wikipedia edit-a-thons in March to celebrate Women’s History Month. These events familiarized attendees with the anatomy of a Wikipedia page and demonstrated how Wikipedia can be used effectively by students and educators.

20140401_editathons.jpgBoth events were organized as part of WikiWomen’s History Month with Wikipedia's well-known gender gaps in mind. Wikipedia reported in 2011 that 14% of editors are women and that the coverage of history is skewed male on the site, an issue these events aim to resolve.

Barnard’s event on March 1st was part of a larger, virtual 7 Sisters Colleges edit-a-Thon, organized in part by METRO. Participating libraries included Bryn Mawr College in PA, Mount Holyoke College in MA, Radcliffe Institute in MA, and Smith College in MA. At Barnard, organizer Megan Wacha reported that over half of the about 17 attendees were first-time editors. Articles created included entries on Millicent Carey McIntosh, Jean Blackwell Hutson, and Thulani Davis.

On Tuesday March 18th Columbia University Libraries/Information Services' Studio@Butler hosted a node of the Global Women Wikipedia Write-In, part of the ongoing Rewriting Wikipedia Project. The event aimed to add Wikipedia articles on women from around the world and to improve existing entries on relevant topics. Columbia Librarian Leyla Williams and collaborators drew about 30 students, faculty, librarians, retired professors, and members of the public to the event to contribute their knowledge. Many participants worked on articles related to historical subjects they taught and researched extensively.

In related events on March 18, Roopika Risam and Adeline Koh, organizers of the Global Women Wikipedia Write-In, held their own local node at Emory University, as did a group at Texas State University. Articles created at these events included entries on Chesya BrukeLauren Cornell, and Lucy Stanton.

Both Barnard and Columbia are expected engage to Wikipedia projects and other open access initiatives in the future. Stay tuned for more.


Image by lwillm licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported.