Wikipedian in Residence/Ladd Observatory

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Postcard of Ladd Observatory

The Ladd Observatory at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island is seeking one or more Wikimedians for a volunteer residence in 2013. The project involves photo documentation of objects from the history of science and technology collection.


The Ladd Observatory is an astronomical and educational facility at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. The building was designed by architects Stone, Carpenter, and Willson. It opened in 1891 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Observatory has a collection of 19th and early 20th century scientific instruments including telescopes, precision pendulum clocks, weather instruments, telegraph and wireless equipment. Today the facility is operated as a living museum. It is open to the public for telescope observing on Tuesday evenings. There are also a range of outreach programs to improve science education in local public schools and museums.


Marine chronometer from Musée International d'Horlogerie, La Chaux-De-Fonds, Switzerland

Successful applicants will work with the Observatory Curator to produce high quality images of collection objects that will be made available under a suitable free license at Wikimedia Commons. These images will then be used to illustrate, and improve, Wikipedia articles on topics related to the history of science and technology.

Photo documentation phase[edit]

The first phase of the project is to produce high quality images of objects from the history of science collection. See the images below for examples of objects that would be photographed for this project.

Applicants for this residency will be selected based on the following criteria:

  • Experience as a photographer
  • Must have photography equipment needed for the project: a quality digital camera and any accessories such as filters, tripod, lighting and light diffuser
  • Available to work on-site at Ladd Observatory for up to 4 hours at a time, approximately twice per month

Contributions to Commons[edit]

The second phase of the project is to upload the photographs to Commons with correct metadata, license info and project templates. Some coordination with the Commons community will be required. This could potentially be assisted by User:Mu301Bot.

Wikipedia article improvement[edit]

The third phase of the project will use images from the first phase to illustrate, and improve, Wikipedia articles on the history of science and technology. This work could be performed during an on-site residency or by working remotely. Some aspects of this could occur concurrently with the above work.


A sample of some of the objects from the history of science collection are shown below. Archival photographs of the historic use of these instruments at Ladd can be seen at

Transit instrument by Parkinson & Frodsham of Liverpool, circa 1838.
Timepiece by Wallace Goodwin of North Attleboro, MA, circa 1860.
Chronometer by W. Bröcking of Hamburg, 1882.
Prismatic Reflecting Circle by Julius Wanschaff of Berlin, circa 1872-1903.
Hammarlund Comet Pro shortwave radio receiver, New York, circa 1930s.

Application process[edit]

Applicants will be expected to provide a brief summary of their background, experience and qualifications including samples of photographic work that they have done. Interested applicants should contact the Ladd Observatory Curator via Special:EmailUser/Mu301 or leave a message at User_talk:Mu301.

See also[edit]

Possibly also Wikipedia:WikiProject Technology, Wikipedia:WikiProject Telecommunications, Wikipedia:WikiProject Radio, and/or Wikipedia:WikiProject Amateur radio

External links[edit]