The idea of the Free Travel-Shirt cropped up during the meetup of some Wikipedians in Hannover, Germany, on 3 March 2009. The objective was to raise awareness on a worldwide scale of the international movement for free knowledge and to bring Wikipedians all over the globe closer together. It is also intended to demonstrate to Wikipedians that they are part of one of the world’s most important networks ever launched. Thus, the T-shirt idea is meant to contribute to the foundation’s mission statement“to empower and engage people around the world to collect and develop educational content under a free license or in the public domain, and to disseminate it effectively and globally”.
With the help of Wikipedians everywhere, the T-shirts were supposed to circle the globe very much like the well-known torch relay before the start of the Olympic Games and invigorate people (Wikipedians-to-be as a matter of fact) all over the place. A blueish T-shirt from Wikimedia Deutschland e. V. (size “L”) with “Enzyklopädist” written on it (which is German for “encyclopaedian”), and a white T-shirt (size “XL”) (picture: English Wikipedia-logo) were taken to many different places and people all over the world. Local Wikipedians were asked to pose with it for photographs to be taken together with distinctive motives, features, people and the like as a proof that the shirts have actually been in a particular spot during their trips. These pictures have been uploaded to Commons at Free Travel Shirt 2009 and added to the organization page on metawiki Free Travel-Shirt as a proof that not only thoughts are free.
At the end of the journey, the two T-shirts came back again to Hanover for the start of this year’s CeBIT on 2 March 2010. In June 2010, they were up for auction for the benefit of Wikimedia Foundation Inc.: white shirt, blue shirt.