On Saturday 19th October, the Library & Archives collections united with the Palaeontology specimens, to illustrate the life and work of numerous women in Science, specifically the field of geology and palaeontology, as part of a Trowelblazers Wikipedia edit event. The event Twitter hashtag was #tbwiki.
I am confident the Library & Archives have not been involved in an event such as this before and it was a pleasure to work with Victoria Herridge, Zoe Hughes, Pip Brewer and Sandra Chapman from the NHM Earth Sciences Department to put the display together.
Those attending had an initial session on arrival at 10.00 am, on the basics of Wikipedia from John Cummings, our Wikimedian in Residence. He gave a background to the beast that is Wikipedia, showed us how to set up an account, and gave hints and tips on the practicalities of editing and creating pages.
After about an hour, the group made their way over to behind the scenes in the Library to see the display. Included were twenty original palaeontological specimens and thirty six original Library & Archives items, illustrating the lives of at least ten different women. This display was brought together uniquely for this event, and many of the items had not been next to each other since they came to the museum.
Those covered included: Mary Anning (1799-1847), Dorothea Bate (1878-1951), Dorothy Garrod (1892-1968), Barbara Yelverton Marchioness of Hastings (1810-1858), Elizabeth Cabot Agassiz (1822-1907), Helen Muir Wood (1831-1924), Elizabeth Gray (1831-1924), Mary Home Smith (1784-1866) and (Lucy) Evelyn Cheesman (1881-1969).
The display was appropriately set in the former Earth Sciences Library public reading room, surrounded by books on geology, palaeontology and mineralogy, and looked over by the oil painting portrait of Mary Anning herself.
As is usual the display set off many a discussion and ignited numerous questions, which is always so great. I always learn so much from listening to those around me, both staff and visitors. Being able to bring the L&A and specimens together to illustrate a common subject is such a priviledge. These were created and collected together by their original owner and so it is great to reunite them.
The reaction from the audience was really lovely.
Then it was back to the NHM boardroom to get stuck into the wiki page editing and creating, fueled by copious amounts for coffee and biscuits!
Towards the end of the day everyone returned to the Library for further discussion and studying of the items on display.
A thoroughly enjoyable day. I hope that everyone had a great time, and will keep up the focus on the Wikipedia pages on their return to the outside world.