Students were asked to seek out articles in Wikipedia relating to Pittsburgh and western Pennsylvania history among other subjects to edit/expand content related to primary sources held in the Archives and Special Collections departments.
Two students enrolled at the University of Pittsburgh as undergraduate History majors performed an internship (Fall 2013) within the Archives Service Center and Special Collections, two separate departments within the University Library System (ULS). Both the staff and the students began the Wikipedia project by taking several Wikipedia tutorials. These were extremely helpful in relieving any anxieties we had with editing and creating articles. The students then sought out existing articles in Wikipedia that relate to content held in the respective repositories to edit by adding content, editing for accuracy, providing necessary citations, creating external links to Pitt collection guides (i.e., finding aids) and/or digitized content in our collections, and creating “stubs” for new articles based on significant people, institutions, places or events not yet covered in Wikipedia based in part on primary sources held within the ULS.
The students gained editing and reading comprehension skills in addition to honing their research abilities using our collections. They each were supervised by an archivist who directed their focus on major subject areas documented in archives and special collections. The students developed a critical eye towards what was contained in an article, knowing that as seekers of information themselves (i.e., Wikipedia users), they typically turn to Wikipedia as their first knowledge point.