records, wikipedia, & digital libraries

I’ve been fortunate to attend a workshop and two conferences this month — see below for some quick recaps of the events.

Records Management in the Round: Re-purposing your Archival Expertise to Start a Program

  • This was an New England Archivists workshop led by Sarah R. Demb, Senior Records Manager/Archivist, Harvard University Archives and, Sarah A. Polirer, CA, CRM, Manager Corporate Research, Cigna Corporation. The day long workshop provided a introduction to a variety of topics like: the role of records management, benefits of a RM program, identifying records, retention schedules, planning for RM program and records surveys, and more. I learned so much!

Mass History 2016 – Putting History on the Map Together

  • This was a one day meeting at the College of Holy Cross in Worcester, MA. The meeting is organized by Mass Humanities. My colleague Greta and I participated in a session on “digital tools” by talking a bit about the value of Wikipedia edit-a-thons for archives/libraries. You can view our poster here.

Joint Conference on Digital Libraries

  • This conference was a great opportunity to learn about the perspectives of researchers in using digital collections and evaluating/improving digital library systems. In particular, I enjoyed the web archive related presentations and the WADL (web archiving and digital libraries) workshop. There was also an interesting session on archiving “born-digital” (meaning web based) news.
  • Some odds and ends from this workshop include:
    • Mention of using Storify to summarize a web archive collection prompting a tweet to this slidedeck about the project.
    • Unshorten utility for expanding shortened urls
    • Stephen Bury talked about Frick’s new “digital lightbox” access system. I didn’t catch a link to the system or if it was open to the public — but here is some info on the tool.
    • Vinay Goel from the Internet Archive showed off the new and soon to be released keyword search for the Wayback Machine. The feature will search website homepages.
    • Laura Wrubel gave some updates on the development of Social Feed Manager. The project is developing functionality that will incorporating provenance information in the metadata output!



fellow update: on wikipedia edit-a-thons

from the archives to wikipedia edit-a-thon

A while back I promised a review of the Wikipedia Edit-a-thon that Greta and I hosted for MIT IAP in January. Better late than never, right?

The Basics:

  • Event Title: From the Archives to Wikipedia
  • Info: There are many interesting women associated with MIT who have sparse Wikipedia entries or no presence at all. You can help fix this! Come to this Wikipedia Edit-a-thon to create or edit articles about MIT women using collections from the MIT Institute Archives as well as secondary sources. The Institute Archives collects materials from MIT alumni, faculty and departments. One of the collections we’ll be using for this Edit-a-thon is the Howe, Manning, Almy papers. Lois Lilley Howe, Eleanor Manning and Mary Almy are believed to be the first women to open an architecture firm in Boston.
  • Time: One time, two hour event during MIT’s IAP session in January
  • Place: The IASC Reading Room
  • Meet-up Page

The event went well overall. Many edit-a-thons have themes. As you know from the info above, our theme was improving the representation of women associated with MIT on Wikipedia. Some, but not all, of the women we focused on in our event have materials in our archival collections. Greta spent time sorting through the collections  we selected for this event to identify secondary resource material that would make for acceptable Wikipedia resources (no original research allowed on Wikipedia). The small group of participants – archives staff and a few people from the wider MIT community – improved 8 articles and created 1 new article. You can see the listing of articles worked on via our meet-up page in section 5.2. The archival material we made available was used by  a couple attendees and a plethora of other published books and historical newspaper databases were also used. As far as marketing the event goes – that was all taken care of by the IAP website and our library marketing team. We also hung a few extra posters around campus the week of the event.

The biggest issue with the event was that we made it far too short! Two hours is not enough time for an edit-a-thon and it’s especially not enough for an event that includes archival material. We accomplished a decent amount of editing in two hours, but we rushed through introductions to the archives as well as the norms and general how-tos of Wikipedia. We needed at least an hour for introductions followed up by two hours of editing. I would recommend doing edit-a-thons that last at least half a day. We also ran into an access issue by hosting the event in a space without several public computers. We have one public computer and (of course!) it had issues connecting to the internet that day, so one of our attendees left because she didn’t realize she needed to bring a laptop. It was also extremely quiet during the open editing time — next time we’ll be sure to have some music playing.

This month, Greta and I attended a workshop at Northeastern University Library about using special collections for Wikipedia editing that was really informative and fun. I hope that we can host another edit-a-thon next year and apply all that we’ve learned.

Resources we found particularly helpful:

fellowship update: from the archives to wikipedia

Here at MIT we have a lovely intersession period know as Independent Activities Period (IAP). During the month of January, there are a range of courses or activities available for credit or for fun. Activities can be submitted by staff, faculty, or students. Greta Suiter (MIT’s newly appointed Collections Archivist) and I are teaming up to offer a Wikipedia Edit-a-thon session designed to enhance representation of women on Wikipedia. Our particular focus is women who were associated with MIT at some point during education or career—a list of articles we plan to improve can be found on our meet up page. Some of the women listed are represented in the IASC  collections while others are simply alums.

The preparation for this edit-a-thon has been a great way for me to learn about the IASC collections and women’s history as it pertains to MIT. I’ll provide a recap of the event after it takes place, but for now I wanted to share some anecdotes about MIT women that I’ve learned so far.  The following tidbits come from MIT student Marilynn Bever’s thesis titled “The Women of MIT, 1871 to 1941: Who They Where, What They Achieved” (approved 1976).

  • Alice G. Bryant (class of 1886) was a physician who specialized in the treatment of ear, nose and throat diseases. According to Bever’s thesis, she was the first woman physician to do so.
  • Anne Graham Rockfellow (class of 1889) lived in Arizona and was a well-known architect. She designed the YWCA and the YMCA as well as the El Conquisator Hotel.
  • Hope Wentworth Narey (class of 1899) was a professor of physical education at Mt. Holyoke College.
  • Edith Clarke (class of 1919) worked in the engineering department at General Electric and served as professor of Electrical Engineering at U-Texas-Austin.
  • Dorothy Quiggle (class of 1926) was a professor of chemical engineering at Penn State. In 1939, she was awarded a patent for a solution to rapidly remove free oxygen from gases.
  • Charlotte Winnemore (class of 1930) worked as Medical Director of the Planned Parenthood Association in Columbus, Ohio from 1947-1965.
  • Leslie Bradley Cutler (class of 1928) was a politician in Massachusetts. She was the second woman elected to the MA State Senate.

Greta and I have also dipped our toes into creating a few Wikipedia articles. We want our IAP session to focus on adding references and verifying information rather than building articles from scratch, but this has required that we create articles for some women missing from Wikipedia. The following list includes the articles we’ve created in preparation for out event:

  • Dorothy Walcott Weeks – 1st woman to earn MIT PhD in math
  • Lois Howe – said to have been the founder of the first all female architectural firm in Boston and an MIT graduate
  • Emily Wick – first woman to become a tenured MIT faculty member and an advocate for women students at MIT

I’m looking forward to the event and opportunity to help improve representation of women on Wikipedia!