The Bigger Picture: Visual Archives and the Smithsonian
Inside a Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon
We just co-hosted our second Wikipedia edit-a-thon focusing on articles related to the history of the Smithsonian (our first edit-a-thon in honor of Women’s History Month focused on women employees at the Smithsonian who were in the sciences) with our Wikipedian-in-Residence, Sarah Stierch, who has been with us since March. I’ve enjoyed seeing in-person how Wikipedians work. They are tireless list-makers, they cite[i] everything (even in email!), and they do everything, from correcting simple typos to transcribing lengthy articles.
I was impressed with what a group of sixteen individuals (three of whom joined us online) were able to accomplish in a mere four hours which even included a tour of the Archives. Some of the highlights are:
- One transcription of the draft of James Smithson’s will.
- Five new Wikipedia articles, including an article about the Smithsonian’s first African American employee, Solomon G. Brown.
- Six updated Wikipedia articles, including the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center which now has information on the acquisition of the Space Shuttle Discovery.
- Several images and documents uploaded to Wikimedia Commons including correspondence between the Wright Brothers and Smithsonian staff.
If you would like to become an online volunteer with the Archives to help make our collections and resources more accessible, there are still several articles to be written and updated. You can see the full to-do list here which has citations to relevant online resources. Consider working on one of the people listed below who either worked for or were affiliated with the Smithsonian. As a group, they illustrate how diverse the people and activities of the Smithsonian have been over the years.
- Wilbur Olin Atwater — Honorary Curator of food at the United States National Museum (now the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History), 1884 to 1892.
- Dr. Asa Fitch — Founder of economic entomology in America. We have 5 of his notebooks in the Archives.
- Charles R. Knight — Wildlife artist whose work is displayed at several U.S. Natural History Museums. We have 3 of his sketchbooks in the Archives.
- Charles Doolittle Walcott — Paleontologist and 4th Secretary (similar to CEO) of the Smithsonian who brought his family along on collecting trips.
[i] “Citation Definition,” Wikipedia, accessed June 5, 2012, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citation.