Writing African American History Into Wikipedia
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As the world’s largest information database, Wikipedia is a familiar resource for many people. Given the ubiquity of Wikipedia articles on various topics, it has become a first stop for conducting online searches. However, there is a gap of information within Wikipedia related to African American history, and addressing Wikipedia’s well-documented racial bias should be a priority for librarians and archivists (“Racial bias on Wikipedia,” 2019). In February of 2019, Oregon State University Libraries and Press hosted a Wikipedia Editathon, “Writing African American History into Wikipedia.”
In the early fall of 2018, we began planning for the Wikipedia Editathon. Two librarians and one archivist, the authors of this article, formed a small team to decide on workflows and individual roles. The team initially discussed various ideas for an editathon theme, but quickly settled on African American history in the Pacific Northwest, which could be incorporated into OSU’s annual African American History Month activities in February. In addition, we all felt that Pacific Northwest African American history is not well known, even among residents of the Pacific Northwest, and so we focused on local history. None of the team members identify as African American, which made the first step, establishing partnerships, vitally important.