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Editing women into Wikipedia: The Dinner Party Project | #toofew

Editing women into Wikipedia: The Dinner Party Project | #toofew

This summer, I stumbled across a very interesting project: An attempt to ensure that all the women represented in Judy Chicago's landmark piece The Dinner Party (1974-79) are represented on Wikipedia. 

This is no small feat - the piece names 1,038 women (39 at the table place settings, and 999 on the floor). According to Alexandra Thom at the Brooklyn Museum in her blog post Writing Women Back Into History

"[...]while most of the women included in The Dinner Party are represented, many of them did not have articles of their own (92 of the 999 women named on the Heritage Floor did not). Of those articles that did exist, a significant number qualified as “stubs,” or very short articles in need of expansion and better citation (190 of the 909 articles met this criteria)."

Thom's post describes the challenges of writing these women into Wikipedia (with a nod to the ever-timely Linda Nochlin essay, "Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?"). 

This project is relevant to many of the points that Adrianne Wadewitz has been making here on HASTAC, and her work to demystify the Wikipedia editing process, as well as the work of #dhpoco and others trying to edit women and minorities into Wikipedia. It would be great to stage an art history focused write-in like #toofew or #gwwi -- maybe planning events that focused on a single discipline would encourage broader participation within those fields (although possible smaller participation overall for each write-in). What do you think?

You can also read more about the Dinner Party Project in Thom's post, Ending the Ongoing Cycle of Omission.

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2 comments

Yes! I think that topic-specific events draw in academics, but they do not draw in as many other people. Academics have already done much research in their lives, so they have the research that needs to be added to Wikipedia at their fingertips. Organizing a topic-specific event would mean targeting those academics and organizing them, sometimes a tough job. However, if you want to attract women or minorities to edit more broadly, you often have to be broader in scope because the general public doesn't generally sit around doing research. There are exceptions to this, of course, and amateur history groups and the like are wonderful places to recruit editors. In terms of focusing on art history in particular, the GLAM project at Wikipedia has specifically attempted to work with galleries, libraries, archives, and museums to add content to the encyclopedia, with much success. For example, recently the Chemical Heritage Foundation had an edit-a-thon that partially focused on improving entries on female scientists. In general, I think the idea is to get as many different people working on this problem as possible - the decentralized way that many of these projects have been popping up in the past few years has been wonderful to behold because it shows that the idea merely needs to spread and people will take it up. 

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That's great! I'll definitely look into GLAM and maybe try to help promote it. It's interesting to weigh the pros and cons of a specific focus vs. a decentralized approach, but it seems to me like the best answer for now is "all of the above/as much as possible"!

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