Working in Wikipedia

Hello, readers! It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted. I hope that your summer was restful and you are prepared for the whirlwind that comes with the start of school. This summer I had the opportunity to work with Wikipedia which is a project that I’ve been wanting to try for a while. As an added benefit, it was a low-stress project, making it perfect for summer! 

I’m sure that Wikipedia plays an important role in providing you with information- you may even use it more than you realize! Wikipedia is handy for getting a brief overview of a topic, looking at the forest rather than the trees so to speak. In today’s blog post, I’m going to discuss what I did with this project, what I learned about the editing process, and bust some myths about the reliability of Wikipedia. 

I began this project by doing a few Wikipedia trainings. Wikipedia has put out several trainings geared towards various groups who might be interested in editing, such as students, professors, professionals, and those doing Wikidata work. I went through all these trainings to see how the trainings differed from each other and to discern the feasibility of assigning a Wikipedia editing project in a class room setting. All in all, these trainings were rather similar, though I would certainly recommend doing the training geared towards the group you most identify with. The trainings were simple to complete and it is easy to go back and quickly reference a page when you’re editing.

Upon completing the training, I began checking on Wikipedia pages that OSU had connections to and making sure the links to OSU’s resources still worked. Through doing this, I would be making more accurate information available to a global audience and giving people easy access to OSU’s resources. Several years ago, another library intern began working with Wikipedia and kept records of her own work, giving me a fantastic starting place. Along with her spreadsheets, I began reviewing her Wikipedia pages. I made my way through OSU’s digital collections and googling different names, such as “Angie Debo” to making sure that OSU’s links still worked on that Wikipedia page. If a page didn’t have links, I was able to add them. Additionally, I kept track of topics or people who didn’t have a Wikipedia page. I haven’t drafted any new pages yet, but I believe that will be my next project!

While working through this process, I learned the truth behind several Wikipedia myths. Many professors like to bash Wikipedia as an unreliable source of information, but it can actually be incredibly useful tool for school research projects. First, Wikipedia provides an excellent overview of a topic, which is a lifesaver when you get bogged down in the tiny details of your research project.

While it is true that anyone can edit in Wikipedia, the information is typically reliable (though you should always take it with a grain of salt!). Those who truly care about editing go through the Wikipedia training which highly encourages editors to use secondary sources and forbids doing primary research. While primary sources, such as interviews, can be used when there’s not much information about the subject, it is the exception rather than the rule. As for random information being uploaded, it is unlikely to stay up as popular Wikipedia pages are constantly updating, thanks to people who care about putting accurate information online. In a sense, popular Wikipedia pages are being peer reviewed.

While the information found on Wikipedia is a great starting place, the “References” and “External Links” sections are the most valuable pages as they contain valuable information that you can use in your papers. Use this resource!

Overall, this Wikipedia project was fun to work on and I enjoyed learning several new skills. I hope you found this article informative and will use Wikipedia to make your next school project a success!

WAVES Week Reflections

Hello, all! Women’s Military History Week ended a few weeks ago and I thought a blog post detailing the process of preparing for that week might be appreciated. 

In the Spring of 2020 my supervisor and I began toying with the idea of publicly celebrating the WAVES program. A bill is circulating in the Oklahoma legislature that would make June 12than official holiday celebrating women in the military. Though the bill has not passed yet, we still wanted to honor the WAVES, provide parents with activities for their children, and showcase the work of the library’s interns. 

First, I compiled a list of all OSU’s resources about the WAVES with links to their online location. This included OSU’s primary sources such as the main collection, yearbooks, and photograph collection. The list also included all the work done by OSU’s interns, such as my data visualizations and this blog, as well as other intern’s Story Maps and podcasts. Later in the process, these items were listed on the main WAVES collections landing page. This allowed visitors to see all the project’s offerings in a consolidated manner.

To publicize what we began to call WAVES Week, I reached out to the Library’s communications team. In working with communications, I learned how to fill out rather in depth social media forms, write snappy social media posts, and use hashtags. The communications team also had several graphic design interns who helped create children’s activities and turn pictures from OSU’s collection into coloring sheets.

I wanted to draw students and young children into this project and in doing so, I created several activity and craft sheets. The craft sheets were inspired by various aspects of the WAVES program. For instance, many WAVES used typewriters in their everyday jobs. One craft sheet had the students create a typewriter from a shoebox so they could pretend to type, just like the WAVES! 

I also attempted to create student activity sheets for older children. These activity sheets focused on the data aspects of the WAVES project, specifically what I worked on during the Fall of 2019. The activity sheets attempted to introduce students to data and how graphs are created, as well as give them a fun activity to help the lesson sink in. Unfortunately, the activity sheets proved difficult to write to our specific needs and we decided to postpone using them until next year. 

Finally, I created several blog posts to supplement the information on the WAVES collections page.  You can view these, of course, on my blog. 

Overall, WAVES week was a success and I enjoyed getting to work on these projects! To view the collection and my work, click here. 

Letters to the WAVES

Hello, all! Today I come to you with a blog post about letters from the WAVES. This past year I’ve been exploring the WAVES program at Oklahoma State University and one of the richest resources I’ve used is the letters from the WAVES. These letters can be found in the WAVES online collection and are enjoyable to read. Since my internship focuses on the technical aspect of doing history, I decided to take the data from these letters and run them through Tableau. For a better explanation of creating data and using Tableau, please check out my previous blog posts! Today, however, I will be showing you the data visualizations I created and providing some context. While this blog post only shows a photograph of the visualizations, I’ve included a link to my Tableau Public page where you can interact with the data. 

During the WAVES program, several professors from the school of Commerce (Business) at OSU were assigned to teach the WAVES, helping to prepare the women for their clerical duties. One such professor was Mr. Leake. He was a beloved teacher and he and his wife often threw parties at their home for the WAVES. Many WAVES wrote to the Leakes after leaving Stillwater and today, these letters are held in OSU’s collection. These letters are a treasure trove which give us a first-hand account of the WAVES’ experience. 

During the 1990s, many WAVES who had trained at OSU began writing to the archives, asking for copies of pictures of the WAVES. While these letters are rather short, they show how far each WAVE went after their service. Many of the letters tell how fondly the women remembered their time at OSU.

These data visualizations tell us more about the WAVES program and their letters. Enjoy!

Letter Version

This first image took the total number of letters in OSU’s collection and divided them by whom the letters were written to. Clearly, there are more letters to the archives. The “Letters to Unknown” were written in the 1940s, but it is not clear if they were written to Mr. Leake or a friend or family member.

Medium of Writing

The letters were in one of two mediums- hand written or typed. This graph combines all of the letters, including those to the archives. It is a bit surprising that there are more handwritten letters, as the WAVES typed for their jobs. However, this may be explained by the fact that there are more letters to the archives, which are shorter and perhaps did not need to be typed. 

WAVES Locations

This visualization shows where the letters came from. On the Tableau Public Website, you can interact with this image and see how many letters came from each state. As you can see, the darker states had more letters, such as California and Texas. These states had major Naval bases, where the WAVES worked during the war. 

Date of Writing

The image above shows the date that the letters were written. Like the previous visualization, you can interact with the data on the Tableau Public website. As you can see, the vast majority of the letters were written in 1992; these are the letters to the archives, as well as the letters from 1993. The other dates, 1944 and 1945, are letters from the WAVES during their service. There is a blank category, which indicates letters that have no date. 

These are all the visualizations from the “Letters from the WAVES” data and I hope that you enjoyed them! Be sure to explore the WAVES landing page and the enjoy the rest of Women’s Military History week.

Bennett and the WAVES

This week, Oklahoma State University is celebrating the WAVES program and their contribution to World War II. This week emphasizes the collection at Oklahoma State University and the WAVES collection landing page gathers information created by students a faculty from all over the university. Today’s blog post focuses on Henry Bennett, the president of OSU during the 1940s and an important part of bringing the WAVES to OSU. Click here to visit the WAVES landing page to view the digital collection, supplemental information, and children’s activities.

Image of President Bennett. 1942 OA&MC Yearbook, 25.

The Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service program was a major facet of life at Oklahoma State University during World War II. It can be argued that the presence of the WAVES program, as well as a variety of other military training programs, allowed the college to remain open throughout the war. The beginning of the WAVES’ time at OSU can be traced back to Henry Bennett, president of OSU and a man with an enduring legacy. Today’s blog post explores his work at the college during World War II and with the WAVES program. 

President Bennett was used to hard times. President from 1928 to 1950, the stock market crashed not long after he began running the college. By the end of the 1930s, the financial situation began to look up, but America’s entrance into World War II brought a second threat of financial ruin (Yearbooks). Young men left the college in droves to join the military and with the fall in revenue from the student’s tuition, the college realized that they could quickly be in dire financial need. From our knowledge of Bennett’s character and the letters he left behind, we can confidently assume that he was quick to act. A man of immense energy, Bennett’s children said that he could often be found awake in the middle of night working furiously (Peters). While we are unable to say with certainty what role Bennett held in bringing the WAVES to campus, a multitude of letters in OSU’s archives show Bennett’s involvement in preparing for the arrival of the WAVES and making sure that they would be well taken care of. Because of these letters and his role as president, we can be sure that Bennett was important factor in bringing the WAVES to campus. 

The WAVES program was a novelty. Before the 1940s, women had not been allowed to serve in the military unless they worked as nurses. However, with the advent of World War II, an immense amount of men were needed to fight. The military decided to mobilize the men who served in clerical duties and replace them with female workers. Before the war, it was considered unfeminine for women to work outside the home (though it must be noted that this was only realistic for a specific portion of society) and women were not allowed in the military. In the time of a national emergency, society began to make an exception and women were allowed in the military (Anderson). Regardless of the war time situation, many branches were not thought of highly. The WAVES were different in this respect, and documents in OSU’s archive show that the citizens of Stillwater and the college welcomed the WAVES with open arms and were extremely proud of the college’s role in serving the country (Water Daughters).

Creating whole new branches of the military from scratch on a limited amount of time proved to be a massive problem. For the male service branches, the military could use preexisting structures for recruitment and training. For the women, however, there were no recruitment or training centers in place. (How these women were recruited can be explored in a previous blog post.) It became patriotic for colleges to give up their space to be used by the military (Yearbooks). In his characteristically energetic style, Bennett wooed many branches of the military to train at OSU, perhaps the largest being the WAVES program. While Bennett may not have intended this initially, the military eventually overran the entire school (Yearbooks). Many of the dorms were given to the military, the WAVES took over Morrill Hall, and many teachers from the business school were enlisted to teach the WAVES (Yearbooks).

Though Bennett had coerced the military to train at OSU, there were still problems a plenty. One of Bennett’s letters to the military showed that the college had been promised a large number of military men, but had not received the full quota. The college had set aside a whole dorm for the men, but half the dorm remained empty and could not be filled with civilian students (Correspondence regarding cancelled quota). Bennett’s careful management of the college’s affairs and willingness to speak up allowed the college to flourish during this period. 

Today, a large but kind looking statue of Henry Bennett peers at students playing Frisbee on Library Lawn. Though most students walk past the statue unawares, Bennett’s legacy at the college remains unheeded by many but strong nonetheless. His tireless work during World War II in bringing the WAVES to campus procured a way for the college to not just to survive, but thrive. A great man, Bennett must be thanked for the legacy that he left the college. 

Yearbooks Collection

Hello again, everyone! The last few blog posts have been chronicling my role as the DH intern over this past school year. The last blog post talked about my work with the Oral History collections.

For the next step in my research, I turned to the 1930-1939 Oklahoma State University (then Oklahoma A&M) yearbooks. The questions I hoped to answer were:  

  • How did students get around town?
  • What did they eat?
  • How did they pay for school? 
  • Were there student jobs?
  • Where did the students come from?
  • Where did they live?
Continue reading “Yearbooks Collection”

Google Extension

The goal of this project was to showcase the sheer volume of archival material the Oklahoma State University Library offers to their students.

The pictures embedded within the Google extension consist of city maps, soil erosion maps, county maps, state maps, and pictures with prominent Oklahomans.

Add the Google Extension