Tuesday, May 8, 2012

We Got Your Wiki Back - Robert Ingersoll!

One thing leads to another.  After spending so much time on the re-write of Tom Flynn's Wikipedia page, I realized that I was learning a lot about Robert Ingersoll.  Tom mentioned, too bad that the Birthplace museum's Wikipedia page is in such bad shape, I've never known that you could have a stub of a stub". 

I didn't even know there was a WP page for Ingersoll's birthplace.  Here is how the page appeared a few weeks ago. 

Tom gave me all kinds of pictures which took me the longest getting them all organized on the page.  I'm still not happy with the picture layout, but that is the beauty of Wikipedia, someone else can play with the images. 

I learned that Ingersoll only lived in this house 4 months.  But it is the only Ingersoll residence still existing. 

Another interesting piece of trivia.  When you watch the museum video you will see people getting off a bus, going inside and looking around at the artifacts.  As I was watching this video I said "hey I know that guy, and that one... and that one also... hey I know all these people, they were at the CFI summer conference I was at 2002!"  That is too funny.  I was supposed to be on that same tour but during the 2-week conference I discovered SURPRISE my husband had left me.  So I had to rush home to California and change the locks on the doors.  That would have been really funny if I had been watching the video and suddenly I appeared. 

Here is the freshly published version

And here is the stat tool to watch the hits for the page.

TThere is tons of work waiting to be done.  Just imagine how amazing I must be at Trivial Pursuit (if the topics are about anything concerning the skeptic world) 

Please join us

Write to me at susangerbic@yahoo.com after you have opened up a Wikipedia account, and read through this blog.  I'm willing to train and mentor.


  1. Wow, the change to this page is wonderful! I learned a ton.

  2. Are you sure it's the only Ingersoll residence still standing? There is a house on Lafayette Square in DC that I understand he and his family lived in while they were here for a handful of years. It has been incorporated into a larger building housing a federal court, but the original structure is still there.

    Also, great work and thanks for taking this on!

  3. Thanks Anonymous. Its very important that skeptics are careful with the statements we make (actually everyone should be careful) so I'm checking with Tom Flynn. I didn't even catch that, just went with what the museum stated. Good job.

    1. Anonymous is almost right -- there is a grand old building on the former Lafayette Square (now Madison Place) with a plaque stating that Ingersoll once lived at that location. But that building is not Ingersoll's house; it is the structure that replaced Ingersoll's house.

      Thanks to the fine historical work of Steve Lowe of Washington Area Secular Humanists (WASH), I'm quite familiar with the site of Ingersoll's D. C. residence. I've visited the site, now part of the D. C. Circuit judicial offices, and Steve and I cowrote an article on Ingersoll's career as a Washington lawyer (with two D. C. historians, one a librarian/historian with the D.C. Circuit) which was published in the
      Journal of the Federal Circuit Historical Society (Vol. 4, 2010).

      Ingersoll lived in Washington at 25 Lafayette Square, a couple of doors down from the historic Dolley Madison residence. His brownstone was razed in 1903 along with several of its neighbors, and was replaced by the grand new quarters of the Cosmos Club. This is the building that still stands and bears a historical marker identifying the site of RGI's long gone residence. That structure has morphed into part of the DC Circuit complex. See
      http://www.ingersoll.wash.org/content/tour/stop09.php , part of a site documenting a walking tour of D. C. RGI sites compiled by Steve Lowe.

      A similar fate befell all of Ingersoll's residences other than the Dresden birthplace. A wealthy and successful man, he built mansions on properties so desirable that someone usually came along after him, knocked the mansion down, and usually built something else. For example, his Gramercy Park home in New York City was razed early in the twentieth century and is now part of the site of the Gramercy Park Hotel. (It
      also bore a plaque noting RGI's residence there, until Studio 54 impresario Ian Schrager converted the property as a high-end boutique
      hostelry and decided that historical plaques were tacky. Thanks to the work of activists from the Secular Humanist Society of New York, we now display the old Gramnercy Hotel plaque at the Dresden birthplace.

      Tom Flynn
      Director, Ingersoll Birthplace Museum
      Editor, FREE INQUIRY
      Big fan of Guerilla Skepticism!!!