My biggest takeaway from learning how to edit Wikipedia, and why it is so important, is that I allow society to determine my worth.
I kept doubting that I could effectively add to Wikipedia. I worried that I wouldn’t know what to say or how to say it.
Which is what society has told women throughout history. That we aren’t smart. That we don’t matter.
I thought even my choice of article to edit was frivolous. That the topic of embroidery, when compared to the other topics chosen in our class, was a silly one.
My readings on the topic, however, opened my eyes to how I, once again, internalize misogyny. In particular I was moved to read the following:
The questioning of the archival institution, in the wake of the two world wars in particular, comes out of a general questioning of accepted knowledge systems in Western society. In order to counter the dominant historical discourse, postmodern scholars have proposed that the focus be moved away from using the ‘nation-state [of the Western world] as unit of analysis,’1 to a history from the ‘bottom up’ that focuses on the complex ‘diversity of human experience by recovering the marginalized voices.’2 The latter included the everyday expe- riences of women, the working classes and indigenous and/or minority ethnic groups who fell outside the ambit of prevalent Western historiography.3 (van Der Merwe, p 239)
That speaks volumes about what it is we are trying to do and why it is so important to edit Wikipedia whenever we can.
Embroidery itself is a perfect example of the type of historical record that isn’t viewed by Wikipedia as a credible source.
Going forward I would like to set a goal of editing Wikipedia at least once per class while at Oregon State. And in turn, to make that a lifelong habit. I’d also like to learn how to host an edit-a-thon in my small Virginia city so that other women and marginalized groups can also learn how to edit and how it’s so vital to ensuring our voices don’t continue to be erased.
Ria van der Merwe (2019) From a silent past to a spoken future.
Black women’s voices in the archival process, Archives and Records, 40:3, 239-258, DOI: