US National Archives turns Wikipedia into Living History, Will Upload all Holdings

In an effort to maintain their Open Government Plan, the US National Archives and Record Administration (NARA) has teamed up with Wikipedia. This is the beginning of a biannual effort the organization has to translate its efforts into the technological age.

US Archivist David Ferriero recognized back in 2010 when the plan was originally crafted that, “in this digital age, we have the opportunity to work and communicate more efficiently, effectively, and in completely new ways.”

The team reached out to Wikipedia in 2011 to kick start these efforts. What began as a student internship has turned itself into a digital content specialist who focuses on Wikimedia sites and a long-lasting relationship between the NARA and Wikimedia.

The NARA is constantly transcribing all US government documents on Wikisource. On Commons, NARA has uploaded over 100,000 images awaiting explanations in English Wikipedia articles.

In their most recent movement, the Open Government Plan laid out what the NARA wanted to complete between now and 2016. They want to upload all of their remaining physical images onto the Commons. These images are very valuable pieces of US history, including war propaganda and the works of Mathew Brady. T

hey’re not trying to specify uploads to particular collections of history, but rather to make as much information they have in their records available to the public as possible. The team has even worked with Github to create a new script to upload images and extract metadata for such a daunting task.

Dominic McDevitt-Parks was the original student intern who has become the Wikipedian in residence at NARA. He stands firm behind these efforts and how they will impact digitization efforts of the future. In a statement on Wikipedia Signpost, he said

” [this new technology will] allow us to more easily upload all of our existing digitized holdings to Wikimedia Commons and similar third-party platforms, and also that in the future upload to platforms like Commons will be the end of all digitization. Looking at it this way, I would say that in a way all of our digitization efforts are also for upload to Wikimedia Commons.”

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