Help Highlight Duke Women on Wikipedia

March 25 “Edit-a-thon” will add influential Duke women to online encyclopedia

Julia Grout served as chair of the Women's Department of Health and Physical Education at Duke from 1924 to 1964. Pictured here in April 1952, she’ll be one of the prominent Duke women added to Wikipedia during next week’s Edit-a-thon. Photo courtesy
Julia Grout served as chair of the Women's Department of Health and Physical Education at Duke from 1924 to 1964. Pictured here in April 1952, she’ll be one of the prominent Duke women added to Wikipedia during next week’s Edit-a-thon. Photo courtesy

For the second straight year, Duke community members are invited to help write Duke history – literally. 

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. March 25, the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture, University Archives and Duke Women’s Center will co-sponsor the “Women at Duke Edit-a-thon,” a gathering of students, faculty and staff to create new entries for online encyclopedia Wikipedia focusing on prominent Duke women from throughout the university’s history. The Edit-a-thon will take place at The Edge workshop room on the first floor of Bostock Library. Refreshments will be provided. 

The event hopes to encourage more female editors for the website, where less than 15 percent are women, said Kelly Wooten, research services and collection development librarian at the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture.

“It’s hard to know the exact number for gender disparity between male and female authorship of Wikipedia, but it does lead to a disproportionate representation of women on the site,” Wooten said. “This is important as part of media literacy and how information is provided.”

Even though the event is geared toward women, all Duke community members are welcome, not just female-identifying students or employees. Those interested in joining are encouraged to create an editor account with Wikipedia before the event. Participants should also bring a laptop computer to use, if available, as there will be a limited number of computers.

No experience is necessary to join and editors will be provided with prepared information to enter into Wikipedia.

During last year’s inaugural Edit-a-thon, students and employees created new listings for topics like the “Who Needs Feminism?” campaign started on campus in 2012, the Duke Nereidians, a synchronized swim team formed in 1930, and seven biographies on prominent Duke women like Wilhelmina Reuben-Cooke, among the first five African-American undergraduate students to enroll at  Duke.

Stefanie Conrad, communications strategist with the School of Nursing, was among last year’s group of editors who helped create new pages on Wikipedia. She said she wanted to join after working on projects to celebrate the history of the School of Nursing. 

“When I learned that the Sallie Bingham Center was hosting a Wikipedia Edit-a-thon, I was very excited about and empowered by the opportunity to contribute to a public, wide-reaching body of knowledge about women at Duke,” she said. “I hope that by sharing what I’ve learned about the women who’ve helped shape the culture at Duke—their backgrounds and the roles they’ve played in Duke’s growth and success—I am giving anyone who reads it a more comprehensive understanding of how Duke came to be what it is today.”