Prolific Scholar/Wikipedia Editor Dies After Joshua Tree Climbing Fall

Prolific Scholar/Wikipedia Editor Dies After Joshua Tree Climbing Fall

The New York Times reports that Dr. Adrianne Wadewitz, a prolific Wikipedia editor and scholar of 18th-century British literature, died tragically earlier this month after injuries sustained in a rock climbing accident in California’s Joshua Tree National Park:

The bulk of Ms. Wadewitz’s work at Wikipedia concerned biographies of women, particularly writers and thinkers from the era that she studied to earn her Ph.D. An early contribution, or “edit,” was in 2006, when she “punched up the intro” to the article about Jane Austen, to note Austen’s “masterful use of both indirect speech and irony.”

More than 49,000 edits later, Ms. Wadewitz had created a whole library of articles about figures like the early feminist writer Mary Wollstonecraft, the children’s book writer Mary Martha Sherwood and the “woman of letters” Anna Laetitia Barbauld. Each of these biographical articles was labeled a “featured article”–the highest praise her fellow editors could give–appearing on the site’s home page.

“It is a huge loss for Wikipedia,” said Sue Gardner, the executive director of the foundation in San Francisco that runs Wikipedia, who has made a priority of getting more women to edit it.

Dr. Wadewitz, 37 years old, was a postdoctoral fellow at Occidental College.