Influential women and people of color from Boulder

Last year, Megan Moriarty (Hist'02) launched Inclusipedia, a project to add influential Boulder women and people of color to Wikipedia.

Megan Moriarty (Hist’02) had recently started as the Museum of Boulder’s community engagement director when she picked up on the pattern: Wikipedia, a first-stop research source for her and millions of other people, had conspicuously little to offer about women.

In fact, she learned from Women in Red, a Wikipedia editing group, that fewer than 18 percent of Wikipedia biographical pages are about women.

So, last year Moriarty started her own project, Inclusipedia, to add influential Boulder women and people of color to the free online encyclopedia.

“Wikipedia’s biographical pages are not representative,” she said. “What does that mean for our collective history here in Boulder?”

So far, Inclusipedia has led 10 editing events, including one at CU’s College of Music. Laptop-carrying volunteers, up to 30 at a time, meet, learn how to edit pages and get to work. Sometimes they add detail to existing pages, sometimes they create new ones.

Inclusipedia’s first addition was a page for Lucile Berkeley Buchanan Jones (Ger1918), the first African American woman to graduate from CU Boulder. Clela Rorex (A&S’73), who issued the country’s first same sex marriage licenses, now has a bio, too. Mary Rippon, CU Boulder’s first female professor — and perhaps the first woman to teach at a state university — is now a quick Google search away. And there’s a page for Penfield Tate II (Law’68), Boulder’s first and, so far, only black mayor.

The main obstacle to adding entries is Wikipedia’s vetting process. It requires detailed citations of secondary sources, such as newspaper articles and books, as well as proof of notability. This doesn’t always exist in ready form, or at all, for people whose historical significance has been unappreciated until now. “We can create a more inclusive history that celebrates diverse types of accomplishments,” Moriarty said. “We can expose more people to the diverse resources and accomplishments from folks in Boulder County.”

In our print edition, this story appears under the title "Making History." Comment on this story? Email