Adrianne Wadewitz, 37, Wikipedia Editor, Dies

Adrianne Wadewitz (January 6, 1977 – April 8, 2014) was an American feminist scholar of 18th-century British literature, and a noted Wikipedian and commenter upon Wikipedia, particularly focusing on gender issues.

Wikipedia editing and advocacy

Editing Wikipedia featuring Wadewitz as the face of Wikipedia

Wadewitz made her first edit on Wikipedia in 2004,[13] and went on to create articles on female writers and scholars, several of them becoming featured articles. She originally edited anonymously for several years before revealing her gender.[14] She made nearly 50,000 edits in all.[1]

As a major promoter of getting more women to edit Wikipedia to help end systematic bias, she said, “We need more female editors, more feminists (who can be editors of any gender), and more editors willing to work on content related to women. The single most underrepresented group on Wikipedia is married women of color with children.”[15]

She increasingly became seen as an authority on Wikipedia, and particularly on the encyclopedia’s gender issues, and was cited as such by organizations such as the BBC.[16]

Wadewitz also served on the board of the Wiki Education Foundation, whose Board Chair and Executive Director noted that “her impact on work promoting Wikipedia as a teaching tool can be seen throughout the Education Program.”[17]


Wadewitz enjoyed rock climbing, which she described as enabling “a new narrative about herself beyond that of a bookish, piano-playing Wikipedia contributor.”[18]


On April 8, 2014, she died from head injuries sustained a week earlier in a rock climbing fall at Joshua Tree National Park.[19][20] Sue Gardner, the executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation, described Wadewitz’s death as a “huge loss” and said she may have been Wikipedia’s “single biggest contributor on … female authors [and] women’s history”.[1] Obituaries for her were published in the New York Times,[1] the Los Angeles Times,[2] the Washington Post,[21] the Sydney Morning Herald,[22] and Corriere della Sera,[13] amongst others.[23][24] The Sydney Morning Heraldalso republished one of her last blog posts, in which she discussed how engaging with a difficult activity had taught her about helping students with their own difficulties, partly by teaching them to celebrate the little successes on the way to a goal. She wrote that, “Ultimately, nothing was more helpful for me than failing repeatedly” and that she wanted her students to realize that failures could be part of learning and were nothing to be ashamed of.[25]








Adrianne was an expert and engaging instructor at ToFF’s Queering Wikipedia Editathon.
We can’t believe she is gone.


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