Improving collective knowledge about women in archaeology

In this case study, discover how Dig It! worked with volunteers on a Wikipedia edit-a-thon that improved the world’s collective knowledge about women in Scottish archaeology.

By Jeff Sanders, Dig It! Project Manager, Society of Antiquaries of Scotland

Barbarandradedasilva, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Just 18% of biographies on English Wikipedia are about women. Our role is to ensure that everyone enjoys archaeology. So, on 9 May 2019, we teamed up with Edinburgh Central Library and Wikimedia UK to deliver a workshop teaching the necessary skills to add to and improve the world’s collective knowledge about women in Scottish archaeology.

Eleven digital volunteers documented the achievements of Scottish women working in archaeology (or women working in Scottish archaeology) both past and present, and made this information freely available to the world via Wikipedia. In just one day the editors created 4 new articles, edited 21 existing articles, added almost 9,000 words to Wikipedia, and uploaded 48 images to Wiki Commons. The new articles and those they edited had over 55,000 views during the four weeks after the event.

Wikipedia is entirely edited by volunteers and is often the first source of information for a wide range of topics. Running an edit-a-thon helps create a sense of community, momentum, and helps to share skills that can then be used to digitally volunteer at any time.

How can other organisations run similar volunteer opportunities?

Wikimedia in Scotland is always keen on improving the quality of Scotland-related content across Wikimedia. They regularly hold edit-a-thons on various topics, and are happy to collaborate with cultural and educational institutions in Scotland to run edit-a-thons relevant to their work. You can contact the Scotland Programme Coordnator, Sara Thomas, at

Want to learn more about inclusive volunteering?

Check out our resources and upcoming events and sign up to Make Your Mark to access a Scotland-wide heritage volunteer organisers network. Joining Make Your Mark will also subscribe you to a monthly e-newsletter with top tips for heritage volunteer organisers. Signing up is free and easy – just fill out this short form.

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