Scholars leverage the National Archives on Wikipedia in professional development course

Representing the history of voting rights on the world’s most-accessed source of information is a noble pursuit. And this group of scholars, professionals, and citizen archivists are up to the task. Using source materials from the National Archives, they will improve Wikipedia articles about the history of women’s voting rights in the United States in honor of an upcoming exhibit hosted at the National Archives Museum, Rightfully Hers: American Women and the Vote.

Wiki Education, in collaboration with the National Archives, is offering this virtual professional development course to train individuals with a research interest in political science, women’s rights, history, and related fields to successfully share their knowledge with the public.

“For scholars with a passion for American history, this presents a chance to improve the content of Wikipedia and make it more representative, accurate, and complete using original source materials,” says Archivist of the United States, David Ferriero. The course aligns well with the National Archives’ mission “to drive openness, cultivate public participation, and strengthen our nation’s democracy through public access to government records.” Wiki Scholars will also take an active role in making the world’s most popular reference source more equitable.

Current Wiki Scholars are drawn to the experience for a variety of reasons. Some want to give back to a resource that they have learned so much from. Others are interested in expanding the ways they communicate research in their discipline to the public. Others have a passion for open source information and for learning the skills they need to contribute themselves.

Meet the NARA Wiki Scholars!

  • Cassandra Berman is a PhD Candidate in History at Brandeis University. As a public historian and an archivist, she feels strongly about providing accessible, well-researched, and thoroughly documented information to researchers of all backgrounds. Women have been less-documented throughout history, which she hopes to address during this course.
  • Rachel Boyle is a postdoctoral Fellow at the Newberry Library. She is seeking more opportunities to write for a public audience. She views this experience as a tangible way to create opportunities to highlight the historical roots of contemporary social issues.
  • Heather Burns is a Citizen Archivist who has dedicated herself to writing articles about powerful and accomplished women who have been ignored, discounted or erased from history on Wikipedia. She has focused on women who have been fierce fighters for social justice and gender equity. She hopes this course will help achieve this goal of representing women and their accomplishments on Wikipedia.
  • Bonnie Burns is the Principal at Bonnie Burns Editorial. She is passionate about exploring different ways of extending access to knowledge. She believes Wikipedia is a critical public resource and is interested in the impact Wikipedia will have on original research.
  • Cara Ann Dellatte is a Reference Archivist at the New York Public Library. Having studied the suffrage movement, she sees Wikipedia as an incredibly useful resource to the public regarding facts and information. She intends to continue to make sure that the information available to the public is accurate and correct through this course.
  • Jennifer Elder is a subject area Librarian at the Woodruff Library at Emory University. She sees Wikipedia as a highly used reference source by almost everyone (including people outside of academia as well as faculty and students). By taking this course she hopes to learn more about Wikipedia and participate more in developing its content particularly regarding the gaps in Wikipedia’s coverage of certain people and topics — particularly of women and their accomplishments.
  • Betsy Eudey is a Professor/Director, Gender Studies; Faculty Director for Advising and Learning Cohorts at California State University, Stanislaus. She has been teaching Gender Studies for several years and has been a longtime Wikipedia reader, but has never contributed. She is looking forward to this program teaching her how to contribute to an important open-source resource.
  • India Ferguson is a Collections Manager at the Black Archives History & Research Foundation of South Florida. She is eager to address the omission of many events, figure heads, and other influential individuals who have little or no representation on Wikipedia. As a Archivist and history scholar, she is committed to using her resources and acquired knowledge to provide as much information on different historical events and figures as she can.
  • Kathie Fleck is an Assistant Professor at Ohio Northern University. She has a research background in Media/new coverage, movement organization/promotion, issues framing/debates, and public perception/opinion. She views Wikipedia as a way to combat the widening gap between knowledge and perception, apathy and activism, civic responsibility and civic understanding and is excited to bring what she learns in this course into her classroom.
  • Joan M Frederici is retired, having spent forty years as a medical technologist. She is an avid reader of Wikipedia and is curious about where the content comes from. Joan is also an avid genealogist, who is active in local and regional genealogy societies. She assists others (especially newer genealogists) with their research, teaching, and lectures. As a believer in reliable information, Joan is eager to learn more about the creation of well-sourced information on Wikipedia.
  • Chelsea Gardner is an instructor in Classics at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa. She has a research background in Classical Archaeology and Digital Humanities. She is excited to learn more about using Wikipedia as a pedagogical resource and to cultivate a better understanding of evaluating online sources.
  • Matthew Lawn is docent and volunteer archivist at the Maryland Historical Society. He sees this course as being at the intersection of his commitment to give back and his passion about history – particularly social struggle. He is looking forward to participating to engage with both of these interests.
  • Jenna Lyons is a Ph.D. Candidate in American Studies and a Graduate Instructor in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Kansas. She is a daily visitor of Wikipedia who is fascinated by society’s reliance on Wikipedia for information. She hopes to use this experience to learn more about public history and develop skills needed to communicate historical information to a wide audience.
  • Emilie Pichot is a Library Associate at the Enoch Pratt Free Library. She is eager to learn how to edit Wikipedia to teach other librarians how to contribute to this accessible and widely-used resource.
  • Erin Siodmak is an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the City University of New York. She is familiar with the uneven nature of Wikipedia entries and is looking forward to learning how to be both an active reader and contributor. She is also looking forward to pass these tools onto her students and encourage them to participate, create, and be active users of Wikipedia.
  • Anthony C. Siracusa is the Engaged Learning Specialist at Colorado College. He is part of an initiative at Colorado College dedicated to improving coverage of women and other underrepresented communities. With a background in modern US History with a focus on African American History, race, religion, politics and gender, he is especially excited to look at the way race impacted the movement for suffrage in the 20th century.
  • RoseAnne Ullrich is a Librarian at the Enoch Pratt Free Library. She is interested in contributing to biographies related to women in government and politics, women’s suffrage, Latina women, African American women and other underrepresented populations through this course.
  • Kimberly Voss is an Associate Professor at the University of Central Florida. She researches women and journalism and views Wikipedia as an influential way to practice public history.
  • Lindsey Wieck is a Assistant Professor, Director of Public History at Saint Mary’s University. She is looking to address issues of systemic bias related to gender and race on Wikipedia through this course.

For more information about the course, see our informational page. Also, see Archivist of the United States David Ferriero’s blog post about the collaboration.


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