The National Archives and Records Administration is taking a novel approach to a challenge faced by many budget-constrained cultural institutions: How to make more of its vast collection of historical treasures accessible to the world.

The answer is taking shape through an innovative arrangement with Wikipedia.

The National Archives is one of a number of organizations taking advantage of a program called “Wikipedian-in-residence” being offered to a variety of cultural institutions around the world.

For Wikipedia, the program offers a way to tap into the troves of highly-desirable archival material for its readers.

For the National Archives, the arrangement provides added means to give greater public access to the government agency’s priceless assortment of high-resolution prints and scans of nationally historical documents. A significant portion of those artifacts have traditionally been limited to special-order copies or confined to reproductions available in a pricey catalog.

The idea behind the program took root last year when Wikimedia Cultural Partnerships fellow Liam Wyatt began looking for ways to tackle the disconnect between “significant” collections in public museums and the “notable” entries on Wikipedia, according to a report published by The Atlantic. Keep reading →