Wikimedian in Residence

The Aberdeen Tower Block Archives

Wikidata can be used to make bulk uploads of large datasets, like the Aberdeen Tower Block Archive, using the Quickstatements tool.

The Tower Block Archive is a database of around 4,000 images, mostly taken by Miles Glendinning, of postwar tower blocks across the UK. The images, and accompanying details of the blocks, have been made available for public use through the Tower Block UK Image Archive, which can be viewed at the Tower Block Archive website. The set of tower blocks in Aberdeen has been uploaded to Wikidata, including several properties and references, as a first step towards making this archive more accessible through Wikidata's linked open data. 

Image showing three tower blocks, high-rise in a pale beige-yellow colour cladding, behind a car park.
Photograph of the Cornhill-Stockethill housing development in Aberdeen.

The Process of Uploading the Database 

QuickStatements was used to upload the information from the archive onto Wikidata. The database of information was uploaded to a spreadsheet, and from here, the following steps were taken:

  1. Check whether any of the tower blocks already exist as items in Wikidata (and have a Q number already)
  2. Create items - Q numbers - for each tower block and housing development (that don't already have a Q number) using Quickstatements
  3. Add relevant properties (pieces of related information, such as "instance of", "country", "building contractor") and their values (such as "apartment building", "United Kingdom", "Wimpey") to the items in the spreadsheet, and upload these - again using Quickstatements 
  4. Continue to add further properties and their values to the Wikidata items to help create links through Wikidata and make the items more discoverable. 

A PDF, which documents the complete process of uploading the data, including advice on working with QuickStatements, is available below. 



© Ewan McAndrew and Clea Strathmann, University of Edinburgh, 2021, CC BY-SA 4.0, unless otherwise indicated.