By Amara Thornton (Co-Investigator)
On 8 March 2023, the Beyond Notability team and a some keen Wikidata editors braved the snowy weather for the International Women’s Day editathon at the Society of Antiquaries. The introductory talks were in the ground floor Meeting Room, which, as I discovered about 5 minutes before we began, contains a 15th-century wooden painted panel that once hung in Baston House, the childhood home of Elizabeth Branson, one of the women in our database. Branson sent the panels for exhibition at the Society in 1880 and donated them to the Society subsequently – both exhibition and donation are recorded in the Society’s minute books (and included in her entry on our database). As I mentioned briefly in my introduction it was a fitting location, therefore, for the start of our day!
James followed my short introduction to the project and the programme for the day with training on Wikidata editing. He used the Wikidata item for politician and former Speaker of the House of Commons Betty Boothroyd, who died late last month, to talk through creating and augmenting Wikidata. Both my introduction and James’s training were recorded, and are now available on the Society of Antiquaries YouTube account https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IXLDFsIEMz8.
We then reconvened in the Library. Before editing began in earnest, artist Katy Drake gave a brief speech to introduce a new artwork hanging in the Society’s Library, which she has produced with artist Kath Van Uytrecht. It is a large print, inspired by the women included in the Beyond Notability database. Katy and Kath travelled to Sweden to create the print.
Katy has very kindly contributed some explanatory text: “Illuminating Knowledge” is a collaborative print re-imagining the Lamp of Knowledge, a 14th century bronze Sabbath lamp that is the emblem of the Society of Antiquaries London. Kath and Katy have included 164 shapes inspired by clay Roman oil lamps to represent the women associated with the Society from 1870 -1950. Rather than a single lamp emanating from one source, the lamps represent the network of women and the importance of their contributions. By representing each individual they give voice to women’s work previously overlooked.
Editing commenced after Katy’s short talk, and our attendees drew on a selection of relevant texts which we had pulled together from the Society’s Library to begin augmenting Wikidata. All in all it was a most enjoyable and productive day, despite the weather.
If you weren’t able to make the event, not to worry! You can get involved in editing Wikidata to add women in our database at any time – just view the training session linked above and visit our Wiki project page to get started.