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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Wikipedia page printouts accompany capitol building statues

Posted By on Tue, Feb 22, 2011 at 4:22 PM

A printout of this Wikipedia entry for William Charles Cole Claiborne, Louisiana's first governor, can apparently be found in the halls of the Louisiana State Capitol building — framed under glass on a pedestal next to Claiborne's statue. It's not the only one: a similar stand for a bronze sculpture of P.B.S. Pinchback, the first state governor in the U.S. of African descent, also has a Wikipedia printout. That's (at least) two Wikipedia articles serving as historical record for public viewing.

So, how did they get there? And who put them there?

The building is on the National Register of Historic Places, so it falls under the National Parks Service's umbrella. But the capitol's state employees aren't sure which office is responsible for the statues.

Calls to the Capitol Building's tourism desk were referred to the house speaker Jim Tucker's office, which pointed to the Secretary of State Tom Schedler's office, which pointed questions to the office of House Sergeant at Arms Clarence Russ and then back to the tourism desk. Building manager Pat Pickens and tour guide supervisor Faye Tillery were not available. The clerk's office referred calls to the building's research library, where staff there was "horrified" to hear Wikipedia was used as a reference.

The printouts have been up since 2009 — through Tucker's tenure and building renovations (the glass was replaced on the Claiborne podium). Who put them there — and why — remain a mystery.

I came up with three possible scenarios:

Someone with a big to-do list Googled "William Charles Cole Claiborne," hit print, and framed. Mission accomplished, no middle man necessary.

The information was just too good to pass up. "Claiborne saved Natchez from a small pox epidemic? What a hero!"

A Louisiana historian read the page, shrugged his shoulders and said, "I mean, I couldn't have said it better myself."

(Via Wonkette)

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