Women in Science and Wikipedia

Saving Oxford Medicine archivists recently attended the Oxford Wikipedia Editathon: Women in Science, an event held in conjunction with Open Access Week. Held at the Radcliffe Science Library, this hands-on workshop followed a similar event at the Royal Society that was held as part of the Ada Lovelace Day celebrations. Similar sessions were held worldwide. The events aimed to enhance the Wikipedia profiles of leading female scientists, many of whom have been overlooked by the online encyclopaedia. By promoting the scientific discoveries of women, it was also hoped the events would play a role in encouraging the visibility of women working in the fields of science and technology.

During the Oxford editathon, Saving Oxford Medicine contributed by creating a Wikipedia entry for the geneticist Lady Julia Gwynaeth Bodmer, whose papers are currently being catalogued, and enhancing existing entries for the ophthalmologist Ida Mann, the pharmacologist and physiologist Edith Bülbring, and the neuroscientist Marthe Vogt. Papers of Mann and Bülbring have been catalogued as part of Saving Oxford Medicine. Bülbring and Vogt worked together in Berlin and came to England in the 1930s. Bülbring helped Vogt to find work in England, and her papers show her support for Vogt’s appeal against an order for internment in 1940.

Women and Wikipedia
Ada Lovelace by Margaret Carpenter, 1836

Other participants at the Oxford event improved entries for a number of women who made significant contributions to science, including Cynthia Longfield, Rosalind Pitt Rivers, Thekla Resvoll, Bertha Swirles and Sydney Mary Thompson and, significantly for the Bodleian Library, Mary Somerville. The Somerville papers are held by the Library on loan from Somerville College, and the catalogue is currently being revised with a view to publishing it online. The papers contain numerous letters received by Mary and members of her family from Ada Lovelace between 1834 and 1851, just a year before her death. It is said that Mary Somerville introduced Ada to Charles Babbage, with whom she collaborated on the ‘Analytical Engine’.

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