DPLA cultural artifacts coming to Wikipedia through new collaboration with Wikimedia Foundation

By DPLA, December 10, 2019.
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Artifacts from DPLA’s Black Women and the Suffrage Movement collection will be the first added to Wikimedia projects.

In an effort to make artifacts from cultural heritage institutions more accessible to all, Digital Public Library of America (DPLA), the national aggregator of digital heritage collections, and the Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit that operates Wikipedia and other free knowledge projects, are collaborating to incorporate DPLA’s cultural artifacts into Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects. Funded by a generous grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, this collaboration will expand the availability of artifacts such as books, maps, government documents, photos, and more from U.S. cultural heritage institutions across the web.  

“If you’re in the business of democratizing knowledge, there’s no better partner than Wikimedia,” said John Bracken, DPLA’s executive director. “As a result of this collaboration, many of the artifacts carefully contributed by our cultural heritage partners across the country and aggregated at dp.la will be seen by millions of people online, which will help to ensure that the story of our nation can be told and retold for generations to come.” 

“We are delighted to support this inaugural effort between two pillars of Sloan’s Universal Access to Knowledge program,” said Doron Weber, Vice President and Program Director at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. “DPLA’s rich heritage of cultural materials will now be made accessible to new audiences via Wikimedia’s structured data on commons, a win-win for both organizations and for the general public.”

One of the first collections that will be integrated into Wikimedia projects will be from DPLA’s Pivotal Ventures-funded Black Women and the Suffrage Movement collection—a series of photos, manuscripts, historical documents and more highlighting black women and their contributions to the Suffrage Movement. These artifacts will be uploaded to Wikimedia Commons, the freely-licensed repository of images, videos, and more. Making these items broadly available on Wikimedia sites will amplify the stories of black suffragists, who are all too often left out of the national narrative on women’s suffrage. 

To lead the launch of the collaboration, DPLA has brought on a data fellow, Dominic Byrd-McDevitt, whose primary role will be to integrate DPLA’s collections into Wikimedia projects and make them more readily accessible and reusable online. Byrd-McDevitt comes to DPLA from the National Archives and Records Administration where he was a digital content specialist. Byrd-McDevitt also currently serves as a cultural partnerships advisor at Wikimedia District of Columbia. He has been an active Wikipedia editor since 2004.

The collaboration will build off the Wikimedia Foundation’s existing Structured Data on Wikimedia Commons project, a multi-year effort to lay the infrastructure that will make metadata about media files within Wikimedia Commons machine-readable and easily accessible by search online. The project will help unlock collections of images, documents, and other precious cultural artifacts for easy search and reuse both within Wikimedia Foundation websites and broadly across the web.

For more information about this collaboration, stay tuned to our blog and social media channels and keep an eye out for more DPLA content on Wikimedia projects! If you’re a DPLA Hub member, you can find out more about this collaboration at DPLA Member Hub Day. 

About the Wikimedia Foundation

The Wikimedia Foundation is the nonprofit organization that operates Wikipedia and the other Wikimedia free knowledge projects. The Wikimedia Foundation’s vision is a world in which every single human can freely share in the sum of all knowledge. The Wikimedia Foundation believes that everyone has the potential to contribute something to our shared knowledge, and that everyone should be able to access that knowledge freely. The Wikimedia Foundation hosts Wikipedia and the Wikimedia projects, builds software experiences for reading, contributing, and sharing Wikimedia content, supports the volunteer communities and partners who make Wikimedia possible, and advocates for policies that enable Wikimedia and free knowledge to thrive. 

The Wikimedia Foundation has been a longtime DPLA partner, and the Foundation’s executive director, Katherine Maher, is a member of DPLA’s board.

About the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation

The New York-based Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, founded in 1934, is a non-profit philanthropy that makes grants for original research and education in science, technology, and economic performance. Sloan’s Universal Access to Knowledge program aims to harness advances in digital information technology to facilitate the openness and accessibility of all knowledge in the digital age for the widest public benefit under fair and secure conditions. Sloan has been the lead funder of the Wikimedia Foundation since 2008, helping Wikipedia scale up, improve accuracy, and enhance credibility as it became the largest encyclopedia in human history and one of the top web sites in the world. The Foundation has been a champion of DPLA since its earliest days, providing support for e-books work, cultural heritage work, and more. Learn more at sloan.org or follow Sloan on Twitter and Facebook at @SloanPublic.