In an effort to make artifacts from cultural heritage institutions more accessible to all, Digital Public Library of America (DPLA), the national aggregator of digital heritage collections, and the Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit that operates Wikipedia and other free knowledge projects, are collaborating to incorporate DPLA’s cultural artifacts into Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects. Funded by a generous grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, this collaboration will expand the availability of artifacts such as books, maps, government documents, photos, and more from U.S. cultural heritage institutions across the web.
“If you’re in the business of democratizing knowledge, there’s no better partner than Wikimedia,” said John Bracken, DPLA’s executive director. “As a result of this collaboration, many of the artifacts carefully contributed by our cultural heritage partners across the country and aggregated at dp.la will be seen by millions of people online, which will help to ensure that the story of our nation can be told and retold for generations to come.”
One of the first collections that will be integrated into Wikimedia projects will be from DPLA’s Pivotal Ventures-funded Black Women and the Suffrage Movement collection—a series of photos, manuscripts, historical documents and more highlighting black women and their contributions to the Suffrage Movement. These artifacts will be uploaded to Wikimedia Commons, the freely-licensed repository of images, videos, and more. Making these items broadly available on Wikimedia sites will amplify the stories of black suffragists, who are all too often left out of the national narrative on women’s suffrage.
To lead the launch of the collaboration, DPLA has brought on a data fellow, Dominic Byrd-McDevitt, whose primary role will be to integrate DPLA’s collections into Wikimedia projects and make them more readily accessible and reusable online. Byrd-McDevitt comes to DPLA from the National Archives and Records Administration where he was a digital content specialist. Byrd-McDevitt also currently serves as a cultural partnerships advisor at Wikimedia District of Columbia. He has been an active Wikipedia editor since 2004.
The collaboration will build off the Wikimedia Foundation’s existing Structured Data on Wikimedia Commons project, a multi-year effort to lay the infrastructure that will make metadata about media files within Wikimedia Commons machine-readable and easily accessible by search online. The project will help unlock collections of images, documents, and other precious cultural artifacts for easy search and reuse both within Wikimedia Foundation websites and broadly across the web.