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Edit-a-thon aims to highlight notable women

| Tuesday, March 31, 2015

women's-history-graphic-WEBKeri O'Mara | The Observer

Students, faculty and staff are invited to gather in the Hesburgh Library’s Center for Digital Scholarship on Tuesday to create or edit Wikipedia pages for important women in Notre Dame and South Bend history.

The Women’s History Month Edit-A-Thon, sponsored by Hesburgh Libraries, the Center for Digital Scholarship, Student Government and the History Museum in South Bend, is open to the public and will take place from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Visiting assistant librarian Kai Smith said participants will work from a list of local women who do not have pages or whose pages need updating.

“The majority of these women don’t have pages at all, except for, I think, a few that are related to Notre Dame history,” she said. “For the majority, people are going to be able to create pages for them.”

The Edit-A-Thon is part of a wider effort in South Bend to increase representation of women on the Internet encyclopedia’s pages. Similar events took place earlier this month at the St. Joseph County Public Library and the History Museum, as part of the the South Bend’s 150th anniversary celebrations.

Smith said participants will use the library’s resources, including the University Archives, to find the information for the pages, and there will be help for people who have never edited Wikipedia before.

“For people who are beginners, we have some training that we can give them, teach them how to edit Wikipedia pages, and the librarians will be available to assist the people with scholarly research and citing,” she said.

Among the women whose articles will be added to Wikipedia’s nearly 4.8 million are Florence Epsy, the first female Notre Dame employee and librarian; Delores Leibeler, the first female reporter in Notre Dame Stadium’s press box; and Isabel Charles and Sr. John Miriam Jones, two associate provosts in the 1970s.

The list of women important to South Bend history includes Sr. Maura Brannick, who founded the St. Joseph Health Center; Janet Allen, the first woman elected to the South Bend Common Council; and Jean Savarese, a costume preservationist known as “the costume lady.”

“There are artists and teachers,” she said. “There’s the former head of the South Bend Public Library, Virginia Tutt. There are a number of pretty amazing women on this list.”

Smith said while one of the goals of the Edit-A-Thon is to close a “gender gap” in Wikipedia editing — according to a 2010 Wikimedia survey, only 13 percent of Wikipedia editors are women — anyone is welcome to attend.

“We definitely want to be teaching people about the library, the skills that we can teach people and also the sources that we provide,” she said. “But in addition, it’s Women’s History Month, and learning about the women important to Notre Dame and South Bend history, and how you can research, write and publish their stories in Wikipedia.”


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About Emily McConville

Emily McConville is a news writer and photographer for the Observer. She is a senior studying history and Italian with a minor in journalism. She is from Louisville, KY and lives off-campus.

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