Culture, Mishegas, Sex & Gender

Information Wants to be Free

Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia…so the Jewish Women’s Archive is helping out by putting the incredible Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia online, just in time for Women’s History Month.
The Encyclopedia was first released as a CD-ROM in 2006, after a half-decade of development. The result includes close to 2,000 articles written by a seemingly endless list of contributors. The new version embraces the power of the web by encouraging readers to share their own resources and even contribute new entries. Don’t worry, this isn’t going to end up as a wikipedia of Jewesses — new entries will be vetted by the editorial board with the same rigor applied to the original entries.
Excited by the information and not sure where to begin? The start page will randomly suggest three featured articles every time you visit, or you can poke around in their three word-clouds (organized around keywords, time periods, and geography). Perhaps my favorite feature is at the bottom of every page: “How to Cite This Page,” two cut-and-pastable citations, one for use in a bibliography and one for use in a footnote.
Kitty Carlisle Hart as a panelist on To Tell The TruthThe encyclopedia is well-integrated into JWA’s overall website, with entries including an “Elsewhere on JWA.ORG” box. The flip side is the search box at the top of the page seems to default to searching the entire site, so for example, when I searched for Kitty Carlisle Hart (parton saint of game shows and cabaret), the results included her obituary, various excerpts from “This Day in History,” but not her encyclopedia entry.
Wait a minute… that’s because she doesn’t have an encyclopedia entry! (This makes me wonder if the entire work hasn’t made its way online yet, since Carlisle Hart was an example of “women typically excluded from stan-dard reference works because their Jewish roots were concealed or not widely recognized” in Madelaine Charney’s review of the original, CD-ROM release.) Or maybe JWA is waiting for someone like me to come along and submit my own entry on the late songstress/game show panelist. I know what my next step will be… who will you add next?
I knew this project was on its way, but thanks to my buddy Jordan, one of the Jewesses with Attitude at JWA, for letting me know it’s up and running, with or without Kitty.

One thought on “Information Wants to be Free

  1. Thanks for this post, David! And thanks for your enthusiasm about the Encyclopedia. 🙂 We’re excited, too. Regarding the addition of new Encyclopedia articles, like one for the incredible songstress Kitty Carlisle Hart, we *definitely* intend to have this resource expand and grow. We are in the process of figuring out how to enable people to contribute new articles. It’s a process, but we’re working on it! In the meantime, check out JWA’s “We Remember” pieces on Kitty by Abigail Pogrebin and Eve Coulson — You can submit some memories of your own in the “We Remember” collection, too!

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