Submissions:2018/AfroCROWD Wiki Oral History Project

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This submission has been accepted for WikiConference North America 2018.


The AfroCROWD Wiki Oral History Project

Theme (optional)

Inclusion & Diversity

Academic Peer Review option


Type of submission




E-mail address

Wikimedia username

Aliceba, Shanluan

Affiliation(s) (optional)



AfroCROWD, in partnership with Wikitongues, Whoseknowledge, Columbia University Oral History professors and graduate students, and others, has been working to develop an oral history project focused on collecting oral knowledge with the intention of archiving that knowledge in Wiki Commons and other archives for use by the open community and the public at large. The intention is not only to create a repository of information useful to the community but to add oral knowledge about cultures and communities, as well as languages, especially in the African Diaspora, that may either be endangered, disappearing or may be underrepresented in Wikimedia content.

We began this journey in 2017 in partnership with the Columbia University Oral History Masters program where we wrote a proposal and recruited a graduate student from the program to help conduct oral history interviews with members of the Wikimedia and AfroCROWD community. We have continued the project with a second Columbia oral history student, who is interning with us to help assess what it would take to grow such a program in the open source and wiki context among other considerations and pilots. We focused the effort on the many cultural communities of the New York City area and freedom towns also located in the New York area (freedom towns are settlements originating in the 1800s that were formed by freed slaves in the United States like Weeksville, also in New York).

We are also working to develop tools that make it easy to create oral histories and collect oral knowledge for upload within Wiki Commons and other Wikimedia and ways to present workshops for others wishing to develop oral knowledge as a tool in closing knowledge and content gaps in their communities.

We would like to present our findings in this work and talk about progress made.

We are organizing a record-a-thon with partner WikiTongues, to collect recordings from members of the community, and would like to also discuss the use of record-a-thons for oral knowledge capture.

In all, the AfroCROWD Wiki Oral History Project is part of the pursuit of a better grasp of the 360 degrees of knowledge. What is written, viewed, and heard, and from the varying angles and perspectives, cultures and languages. By capturing oral knowledge, we move closer to the better inclusion of a form of knowledge many generations of people, in an array of cultures, have used to pass on vital communal history. This cannot be overlooked if we hope to capture the true sum of all knowledge. As oral knowledge is and has been an important vehicle for so many cultures and communities, we believe it can be one of the key components in closing the knowledge gap. For this reason, we also see oral knowledge as a necessary component of the Wikimedia Movement's strategic goal of Knowledge Equity by 2030.

As we work to find creative ways to use oral knowledge to close knowledge gaps and promote diversity and inclusion, we are excited to potentially share what we are learning at WikiConference North America 2018.

Length of presentation

30 minutes for presentation

Special requests

Need microphone, wifi, computer, screen, projector unit, podium

Preferred room size


Have you presented on this topic previously? If yes, where/when?

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