Public History group projects 2023: Small Press, Big World – exploring the world of Wikipedia
By Joanna C Baines, on 14 August 2023
Special Collections has been supporting the new MA in Public History since September 2022. As part of our support, we lead two group projects in Term 2 for Critical Public History, which is the core module all students take. These projects aim to equip students with real-world scenarios and experience, where they deliver an outcome to a client (in this case, Special Collections). Anna Fineman leads the other Special Collections project, which this year focused on creating an informal archive for the new UCL East campus.
My project involved putting information about our Small Press collections – which can be challenging to digitise due to the fact that they’re often still in copyright – online via Wikipedia. Small Press publications contain a wealth of work by artists, writers and publishers often collaborating to make independent works. This year our students James and Yuxuan worked on the 1960s art magazine 0 to 9, creating a brand new page for the title which includes a complete list of contributors to each issue. The page at present is in review stage, having initially been declined in April, so links will be updated on this post when it hopefully gets approved! You can still read the page whilst it is waiting for approval.
Huge thanks to James and Yuxuan who were an absolute dream team to work with this year!
James and Yuxuan:
For this short blog post, we will showcase the benefits of Wikipedia for information creation with student collaboration. We will also highlight some key strengths and pitfalls that come alongside Wikipedia development through the lens of working with the Small Press collection: 0 To 9 Magazine. Almost everyone has used Wikipedia for access to information, but to help ensure its continuation, it needs the support of contributors to help develop new articles.
Wikipedia is an encyclopedia with free content anyone can use, edit, and distribute. It is developed to have a neutral point of view. There are no firm rules, but contributors to Wikipedia must treat each other with respect and civility. For new users, Wikipedia also provides tutorials to help teach the basics. On creating a new page, various templates can aid your creation/development of an article!
Useful features to utilise when creating your Wikipedia page would be your sandbox, which allows you to play around with Wikipedia’s features in a less formal environment. Standardised elements include headings, citations, references and an infobox template.
Note: Although anyone can edit on Wikipedia, on published pages, people will check and edit what you post: Make sure to base your work on reliable sources. You can see a baseline of what reliable sources are from this Wikipedia page.
For our Wikipedia page, we included a brief description of what 0 To 9 Magazine was, some background behind the creators of the magazine, the production of the magazine, and the themes expressed by the contributors to the magazine. We then proceeded to list all the issues of 0 To 9 and more specifics about each issue.
At the bottom of the page, you can find further information about the impacts of 0 To 9 through the Supplements, Impact and Legacy subheadings and the various references.
As we worked on our Wikipedia page, we tried to focus on the magazine’s materiality of language and the distinction between visual art that it defies. We have also created a short video for this blog post, giving more details about the magazine, which you can watch below.