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ESF Student Contributes to Wikipedia as Part of Class Project

Article on early New York literary magazine, The Knickerbocker

An ESF student has made significant contributions to Wikipedia as part of a class project.

Melanie Pavlidis, a sophomore in environmental studies, contributed to a Wikipedia article onThe Knickerbocker, an early New York literary magazine, as part of her History of the American Environmental Movement course. The class is taught by Dr. David A. Sonnenfeld.

The Knickerbocker, published from 1833-1865 in New York City, was founded by Charles Fenno Hoffman, and featured notable early American writers including Washington Irving and James Fenimore Cooper. The Knickerbocker is one of the most influential sources of early American environmental thought, stated historian Roderick Nash inWilderness and the American Mind, a textbook used in the class.

Pavlidis started with a bare-bones article "stub," did secondary research on the magazine using what she learned as the basis for further development of the article. By semester's end she had substantially developed the article, adding relevant graphics as well as substantive material on The Knickerbocker's history and significant impacts on 19th century American thought and culture. As a final component of the exercise, she invited other Wikipedia editors to review and suggest improvements to the article.

As a student in the Environmental Culture, Communication and Writing option, Pavlidis said she felt that "Wikipedia is an important medium to learn more about, as a widely used source for environmental information, both historical and contemporary." Prior to the course, Pavlidis had used Wikipedia but had no idea how the site's articles were written or by whom.

The project, supported by the Wikimedia Foundation's Campus Ambassador Program, included an introduction to Wikipedia editing, led by Syracuse University Wikipedia Ambassador Gabriel Mugar.

"After this experience I look forward to continuing to contribute to the online encyclopedia," she said.