Reuther Library Hosts Wikipedia Edit-a-thon

On May 1, 2015, the Reuther Library hosted a Wikipedia Edit-a-thon to increase online visibility of our collections related to the labor movement. Editors spent the afternoon developing new skills, collaborating on ways describe collections to the general public, and brainstorming ideas to expand the Wikipedia editing group for future events. The group edited over 20 articles during the May Day event and identified several more to create, such as entries for Mary Van Kleeck, Sam Fishman, and the Association for Union Democracy.

The Reuther joined labor archives across the country in this effort, including Cornell's Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives and the George Meany Memorial AFL-CIO Archive at the University of Maryland. Each archives selected articles to create or edit based on their collections, with an emphasis on labor-related people and organizations. Many of these collections are popular among seasoned researchers in labor history but lesser-known to the general public.

Wikipedia represents an ever-growing body of information that depends on independent editors to author and fine-tune articles. In recent years, the organization reached out to libraries and archives to participate in the editing process to help interested researchers find sources beyond an encyclopedia-style entry. At the Reuther Library, we have noticed the broad reach of this open resource. Over the past year, nearly 10% of visits to our site came through links on Wikipedia. New users make up nearly 81% of these visits, and many of these users peruse multiple pages on the Reuther site. We hope that increased visibility on Wikipedia will lead researchers with an interest in labor history to the primary source material that furthers their work.

Wikipedia offers suggestions to those interested in hosting their own Edit-a-thon, emphasizing that an event does not need to be large in scale or difficult to plan in order to be effective. Visit the How to Run an Edit-a-Thon page for more information.

Meghan Courtney is the AFSCME Archivist at the Reuther Library.