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Family matters

Otto Tucker's granddaughter updates his Wikipedia page

By Kristine Power

Depending on the day, Katie Crane’s summer job can have her researching toutons, skeets and lake monsters.

But it is a much more personal subject that had the master of folklore student searching through old archives to set the public record straight.

All Hands

In addition to being a graduate student in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Ms. Crane works for the Intangible Cultural Heritage office at the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador.

The job, among other things, has her contributing her research skills to the All Hands: A Wiki Edit-a-Thon for Newfoundland and Labrador initiative.

All Hands, a collaboration between the Newfoundland Quarterly, Memorial University Libraries and CBC and is sponsored by the Office of Public Engagement, is working to enhance and improve Newfoundland and Labrador’s online presence.

Which brings us to Ms. Crane’s part in the work and how she came to tackle the Wikipedia entry for her grandfather, Dr. Otto Tucker, who died in 2015 at the age of 92.

Dr. Tucker, a renowned Newfoundland and Labrador historian and cultural activist, author and educator, and recipient of both the Order of Canada and Order of Newfoundland and Labrador, already has a Wikipedia page.

But it always bothered Ms. Crane and her family that the page contained inaccuracies and required updating.

“He is the reason I am interested in folklore and he has always been my role model,” she said.

Video clips a highlight

Through a scholarly lens, Ms. Crane set about researching her grandfather by scouring Memorial University Libraries’ Digital Archive Initiative and piecing together a timeline of his life and work at various academic institutions across Canada and then adding the detailed information to his page.

“It’s all research because that’s the way that Wikipedia works. It has to be cited, so I used my knowledge as a starting point and then found information to back it up.”

Coming across video clips of her grandfather for the first time was a highlight of the work, she says.

“I found video clips of the Tales of Pigeon Inlet where he played Grandpa Walcott, so I got to watch him in an episode of that. So that was really cool,” said Ms. Crane. “That’s stuff I never even thought of looking for before this.”

Ms. Crane remembers a game the two of them would play when she was a child. She says when she first attended Memorial, she didn’t know what to focus on. But then she remembered the childhood game: Archaeologist and Anthropologist.

She would wander around “exploring” and her grandfather would “find” her toys and tell her they belonged to an ancient culture and then would record it on paper.

“That’s why I even thought to take an archaeology class, because he got me interested in that and then that turned into linguistics because he was a very big proponent of Newfoundland culture and Newfoundland history and I am very interested in vernacular language and the Indigenous languages of the province and I credit him with that.”

“He always loved learning things.” — Katie Crane

What does Ms. Crane think Dr. Tucker would have thought of a Wiki Edit-a-thon?

Ms. Crane surmises he would have relished it because he “always loved learning things” and that he would definitely have been a contributor.

Of all the entries Ms. Crane has worked on, Dr. Tucker’s Wikipedia page is the most special, she says.

“For me, it is a way to memorialize my grandfather and keep his memory alive.”

The All Hands: Wiki Edit-a-Thon will continue for the rest of the summer on various topics relating to Newfoundland and Labrador. Since the initiative began, there have been 654 edits made, 460 references added, 40,000 words added and 211,000 article views of entries about Newfoundland and Labrador.

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