Chances are that you have visited Wikipedia in search of information. It is one of the world’s most-visited websites and its content comes from people who volunteer their time and effort adding knowledge to the free, public website. In honor of African American History Month, Do Space recently held a edit-a-thon on February 20th. During the event, we spent an afternoon contributing information about Omaha and its African-American history. In just under three hours, our thirteen attendees and volunteers (and me) added seven new articles and improved ten others!

One of the pages created during the edit-a-thon was for Charles B. Washington, an important civil rights activist in Omaha and the namesake for one of Omaha Public Library’s branches. Another attendee created the page and I helped expand it by adding citations to support the information written and preserve its continued place on Wikipedia. I was surprised no one had previously created a page for such a significant local person. Increase the world’s knowledge of one of Omaha’s historic figures was a pleasure for me.

Amy Forss, an MCC faculty member with a PhD in African American history, was familiar with many of the topics we targeted to work on, but then found the page of Frank Shelton “Red” Perkins and began editing. “It was exciting researching someone I knew nothing about but quickly realized was an important person in Omaha history.”

Liz Lorang, built a page for Gene Haynes, a long-time OPS employee, with whom she had a personal connection:

“Not only did Mr. Haynes know both my brother’s and my names while we were at North (even then the high school was around 2,000 students), but he remembered the other members of my family as well, going back two decades or more. I remember distinctly Mr. Haynes’ ability to connect with people–students as well as family members–so when I saw his name on the list of notable Omahans in need of Wikipedia pages, I knew what I wanted to work on during the edit-a-thon. The entry needs some more work, and I’m excited to do more research and continue to build out the entry. I hope others will as well.”

Wikipedia constantly evolves and Omaha still has hidden histories waiting to be written. Learn about getting started editing wikipedia (link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Help:Getting_started ) and attend future Wikipedia events in Nebraska (link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Meetup/Nebraska ).

Photo credit: The Dixie Ramblers By Great Plains Black History Museum Collection (http://historyharvest.unl.edu/items/show/740, CC BY 4.0)

About Author
Brian Sarnacki, Community Projects Specialist

Brian is a Community Projects Specialist for Do Space and a graduate of Notre Dame and UNL with degrees in History. He lives with his Chiweenie named Wesley, who owns many adorable sweaters.