Wikipedia and the Archives

This post was contributed by Sophie Archambault, a rising junior at the University of Connecticut. In Summer 2021, Sophie interned with Michael Rodriguez, Collections Strategist, and Rebecca Parmer, Head of Archives & Special Collections, to help increase the visibility and accessibility of UConn Library’s archival collections by adding content, references, and media to Wikipedia. 

Wikipedia logo Version 1 by Nohat (concept by Paullusmagnus); CC BY-SA 3.0

All through school, I’ve been taught that Wikipedia is a risky resource. Anyone can edit or contribute, and the sources used to build the articles aren’t always reliable. Additionally, though editors are anonymous, the topics covered on Wikipedia are overwhelmingly white male centric. When topics outside of this realm are introduced they are often shut down by fellow editors who claim a lack of adherence to protocol. Recently, however, efforts have been made to diversify Wikipedia editors and content, so that marginalized groups are given more attention. This is what my project with the UConn Archives focused on. I was to find topics covered by archives collections that could use increased visibility on Wikipedia. I generated a list of possible topics and ended up working on four Wikipedia pages, all of them female authors.

After completing a few training modules, I began this project with Grace Lin. I remember reading her books in middle school, so she was a familiar name. Her page was also in a good place for me to jump in as someone very new to editing Wikipedia. The page was already pretty clearly established, but there was obvious room for improvement. After investigating the already cited sources and doing some research of my own, I ended up adding information to the biography section and creating an awards section. Something I had not expected to encounter was references that could not be accessed. A few of the sources for Grace Lin linked to pages that were no longer active. Did that mean I had to remove those sources completely? Find the information that had supposedly come from those sites in different places? I brought the issue up to Rebecca and Michael, who suggested I use the Wayback Machine (yes, that’s what it’s actually called). Using the Wayback Machine site, I could put in a dead link and have access to all previous versions of the page. I could then insert a link to an archived version of the page in the resources section of Wikipedia. Nothing ever really disappears on the internet.

Lin’s page took me a couple of weeks to complete, but it was a good chance to get used to navigating Wikipedia. After Grace Lin, I tackled Magdalena Gómez, a playwright, poet, and social activist based in Springfield, MA; Eleanor Estes, a late children’s book author known for The Hundred Dresses and The Moffats; and Rosemary Wells, whose picture books of animal characters—Max and Ruby, Noisy Nora—my parents read to me. It got easier to edit the pages. I got into a routine of reading what was there, making note of what needed to be changed or added, investigating the already cited sources, and finding more sources if necessary.

One of the main goals of this project was to hopefully increase web traffic to the UConn archives. On every page I completed, I added that so-and-so’s papers were held at the University of Connecticut, and I provided an external link to the specific finding aid. Unfortunately, as it was summer and covid, I was not able to go to the archives and take a deeper look into each of these women’s collections. However, I hope that my small contribution to the vast world of Wikipedia will bring more people to the archives’ site and encourage them to find out more in person. I was inspired by each of the authors I researched and it made me feel good to increase their visibility on a widely accessed site. Hopefully, with edit-a-thons and projects like this one, those who have been deemed irrelevant or unestablished by editors will get the attention and space they rightfully deserve.

Fall 2021 Research Update

welcome back banner image

We’re excited to announce that UConn Archives & Special Collections will reopen to the public for onsite research visits on Monday, August 30th. We have made some changes to our service model to respond to changing COVID-19 conditions and to best serve our community. Below, you’ll find details about our reopening plans, including how to schedule research visits, information about facilities work which may impact access to our collections, and how to get support for your research (onsite and online). Additional details can be found on our website.

Fall 2021 Reading Room Schedule

9:00 – 12:0012:00 – 1:001:00 – 4:00
Open by appointment onlyClosed for lunch and cleaningOpen by appointment
Walk-ins welcome*

If you are visiting in-person, please book an appointment at least two business days in advance of your visit due to limited walk-in hours and limited space in the reading room. You are welcome to select both morning and afternoon slots on a chosen day or to reserve space on multiple days, if capacity allows. Unfortunately, same-day appointments cannot be accommodated at this time.  

Once you’ve submitted your appointment request, ASC staff will confirm your appointment and follow up with any questions or additional information.  

*Walk-in visits: Please be aware that access to the reading room for walk-in visitors is subject to capacity limits and staffing resources. Due to scheduled facilities upgrades, please be aware that collections materials may not be available for walk-in visitors. The best way to ensure that resources will be available for your research is to book an appointment in advance of your visit. 

As the University responds to changing pandemic conditions, access to our reading room and onsite services may be limited from time to time. Current information about our services will be posted on our website, blog, and social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram).   

Remote Assistance 

If you can’t visit us in person, we’re ready to assist you remotely! 

We continue to support remote research by responding to research inquiries, digitizing materials, and preparing for virtual classes and instruction. Our staff are available to meet with researchers via email, phone, or virtually by appointment

Please use our Reproduction Request form to request scans and copies from our collections. We will try to accommodate reasonable requests free of charge, but large or resource-intensive requests may incur a fee. 

We will do our best to assist you as the situation and our services allow. Please be aware that there may be some delay in the fulfillment of research and reproduction requests. We appreciate your continued patience as we all work through this dynamic, challenging time! 

Please reach out to us at any time with questions, comments, or concerns: 

Research Resources 

We’ve compiled a list of resources to help you get started in your research. We’ll continue to add to this list as additional resources become available. 

Facilities & Construction Update

Over the summer, we began critical maintenance work in our collections storage area. This work, which we anticipate will be completed by mid-fall, includes upgrading the electronic and mechanical systems for our mobile shelving, and will help ensure that our collections will remain safe and accessible for future generations. However, it may occasionally impact our access to collections material. In the event that material is not available for onsite use, ASC staff will follow up with you to discuss other ways of supporting your research.