Life Story Challenge Launches!

Life Story Challenge HistorypinWho do you know who is amazing? Someone interesting, kind, worthwhile, brave, crazy, amazing, selfless, or generous and who is continuing living life to the full – an “Active Ager”?

The Life Story Challenge is now open for entries from anyone in Europe!

Simply create a Life Story about someone you know using photos and stories you’ve collected and tell the story of their life and what they are doing now.

The best story will win a cash prize and a trip to Brussels. But get in quick if you want a chance to win – the closing date is 16th September 2012.

The Life Story Challenge has been created by Historypin and the European Year for Active Ageing to celebrate the Year of Active Ageing and Intergenerational Solidarity.

Find our more and get started creating your Life Story here.

Trams on Boston Rd, Three Brides for Three Brothers and Cricket at Skegness.

This week we celebrate a dedicated Historypinner, have a very cute story all the way from Route 69 in Kansas and to top it off a fantastic picture of some girls having fun on the beach in Skegness, Enjoy!

Pinner of the Week

Tram on Boston rd, Hamwell 1900-1920

PhotosOfThePast is a great channel that has been pinning a huge variety of photos ranging from late 19th Century Indian temples, to Bucolic English scenes going back as far as the 1860’s. Here is a great pic of a beautiful route 13 Tram on the Boston Rd.

Story of the Week

The McShannon sisters inside the 69 Grill, Louisburg, Kansas.

Our story this week comes from Cpurvis a self styled ‘sentimental fool’ and to back it up our Story of the Week is a cute one from Louisburg, Kansas. In the photo you can see three sister Betty, Evelyn and Mary Anne McShannon. All three sisters married three brothers called John, George and Tom Baur and if that wasn’t enough they also all worked at the same restaurant; The 69 Grill on Highway 69 which is where the picture was taken. Such a cute story and you can see more of the McShannon, baur couples on Cpurvis’s channel here.

Photo of the Week

Beach Cricket at Skegness, 1940

Well its the last week of August and its holiday time, so have chosen a great beach photo this week. In the photo we have Greta Meradith, Gladys Carrier and sisters Valerie and Edna Buckley, playing cricket at Skegness in 1940. They look so care free and the photo seems to have a timeless quality to it. You can imagine much the same scenes today at a beach in England. Check out the photo here and also have a look at the Science and Society Picture Library Channel, which has a huge collection of beautiful and interesting historical images from across the world.

Interview with Kerri Young, Historypin Intern

Name: Kerri

Role: Historypin Intern

Why did you want to intern at Historypin?

I wanted to intern here because Historypin has such a fresh take on engaging the public with history.  I am currently doing an MA in Public History, which is all about the ways in which people engage with history through museums, heritage, television, etc. I love how Historypin is one of the pioneers in this field, making the best use out of something that much of the world now uses: social media. The fit with my area of study is fantastic and provides a great learning opportunity.

How did you come to hear of the project?

I came across Historypin on Twitter. An enthusiastic user described something she had pinned, and I was intrigued about an online-archive that was so hands-on and easily accessible. Anything that helps to promote history in a fun way, I am all for it.

Describe an average day for you as a Historypin Intern.

An average day consists of moderating content that goes up on the site, updating Historypin’s social media accounts, doing some pinning, and finding interesting material for blog posts. Basically, lots of exploring of all the great content that’s out there!

What do you do when you’re not at Historypin?

Since I’m not from around these parts (San Francisco native), I like to explore London and its surroundings as much as I can. I like to visit new museums, go to concerts, and bike-ride in park-when it’s sunny of course! Pub-culture in this country is fantastic as well.

What’s been your best moment here?

I don’t think I can pick one moment, but finding the exact location for vaguely-located photos on Street View is pretty rewarding. In general, it’s great to be able to pick out interesting content and share it with everyone via our blog and Twitter. Sharing is caring!

What excites you the most about Historypin?

What excites me the most is that everyone who explores our map has the chance to be inspired by someone else’s history. The individual moments and stories that are pinned contribute to a larger history of a time, place, or event. Also, that fact that you can travel down a street in Street View where both archival institutions and individual users contribute historical memories is an exciting collaboration between the professional and public spheres.

Unlike your straight-forward online historical archive, Historypin is interactive and visually-fun to explore, and is a great tool for bringing in those who may not engage with history that often.

Can you show us a photo you have personally pinned on Historypin?

Princess Diana Dancing With John Travolta, Nov. 5, 1985.

What’s your favourite photo that has been pinned to the Historypin map and why?

Muni Streetcar 101 and Bus 1 | W5065, 1920, San Francisco MTA Archives

There are so many great photos on the site, but this is one of my favorites because it blends personal and local history with an amazing Street View. This photo shows two old  lines from Muni, which is still San Francisco’s local transportation system. As a native San Franciscan, images like these are fascinating, especially since I and so many other people still use Muni each day. I can’t get enough of local transport images like these, and even wrote a blog post about a similar SFMTA photo. Something mundane like taking the bus every day somehow seems a little less so when having a glimpse at the line’s changing history.

What kind of content would you like to see more of on Historypin?

I would like to see more family and local history on the site, something we are taking great strides towards. Family and community are associated with some of our greatest memories, and I think at its heart Historypin links different ones together from all over the world and places them within a larger historical context. Individual ‘histories’ are definitely changing how we perceive History with a capital H!

Why do you think people should add their photos and stories to Historypin?

This is the chance for people to encourage the spirit of sharing and learning about history with both their local community and the rest of the world. The more people pin, the more the site can grow and encourage the collaboration between individual users and historical institutions. Contributing to our site will also help people find the things they are interested in more easily. Historypin only works when people participate-and that means you!

What do you think the future of Historypin is?

I see Historypin expanding even further through social media, allowing it to utilize more resources and collaborate with more people from all over the world. I also see Historypin becoming a very useful learning tool in the classroom, especially in relation to local community engagement. If students everywhere collaborated on projects akin to Pinning Reading’s History, they can literally put their community ‘on the map’ and expand the often neglected field of local history.


Before it’s too late

There is always someone in the family that knows everything, who recognises every face in every old picture, who could tell you where they were taken and what the occasion was, who could narrate an old family film to within an inch of its life.

In my family, that person was my Great Auntie Jo.

I had some amazing experiences around old family and local stories with my Gran before she died a few years ago. Not enough, but they were important for us – a chance to understand each other’s lives a bit better, to compare stuff, laugh a lot and find out some secrets that weren’t for full family viewing.

A few weeks ago, I spoke on the phone to my Auntie Jo, a wonderful woman of well over 90, to say that I wanted to come and spend some time with her to talk through all the photos and videos of family, friends and the farming communities our family has always been part of. She was excited. We hadn’t seen each other for ages and she loved the idea of sharing boxes of old materials and a head full of memories. Like me, Jo wasn’t that interested in family trees. But, also like me, she loved a good story and every one of the things she had collected came with a story or two.

Earlier this week, Jo had a fall and died in hospital soon afterwards. I had never made my trip. Busy lives got in the way, seemingly more important things took priority.

As a family, losing Jo has been very hard. For me, it comes with some extra sadness. I never got that time with her and she never had it with me. Tragically, those boxes and boxes and photos will mostly only ever be pictures, rather than stories – Jo was the last person in the world that could tell you about lots of them.

For me, for my family, for our communities and our society, we lost the chance to understand more about ourselves through Jo’s memories, to feel more connected to places and people.

This is a loss that happens every day, hundreds of times over. Memories slip out of reach and are lost forever.

Historypin began with lots of positive experiences that inspired me and other members of that initial team to put something into the world that could multiply and aggregate those experience. This painful experience, of something urgent not done soon enough, can be put to equally good use I hope.

Internal Street Views, a trip to Egypt and votes for women

Happy Friday! On Wednesday we were really excited to present our first ever pin from inside the White House, of a reception in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Here are some more famous visitors, Princess Diana and John Travolta, dancing in the main entrance hall of the White House. Such a cool pic!

Princess Diana and John Travolta Dancing, Nov. 5, 1985. (click for full view!)

A big thank you to the U.S. National Archives, who have shared these superb images. We encourage you to explore Google’s Street View blog to get the latest updates on new areas that have been mapped, and then pin them on Historypin. Many of these new additions are excitingly not ‘on the street’ at all. We would love it for people to start pinning in newly digitally charted territories. If you have visited a cool place, from Yosemite National Park to the ruins of Pompeii, and thought that they wouldn’t be on Street View, it couldn’t hurt to check – you might find that they are!

Pin of the week

Ivie Anderson at the Porcella's 1930-1940s.

Pin of the week is from user phidgetyphil, who is pinning some great local history photos from the “Garlic Capital of the World,” Gilroy, CA. He has posted this great photo of Duke Ellington’s favourite singer Ivie Anderson visiting some friends in her hometown of Gilroy, CA. Ivie sang with Duke Ellington, a jazz legend, and his band throughout the 1930’s. I love photos like these on Historypin, of great local history moments shared between friends and family.

Pinner of the Week

Moving one of the stone figures into the Ming Tomb Gallery, 1933.

This week’s Pinner of the Week is the Royal Ontario Museum, who have added some great photos of how some of its world-culture exhibits were constructed in the 1930’s. I am a great lover of museum culture, and it is always fascinating when museums shed light on the kinds of the things that they had on display and how they got there. I’m sure moving a giant tomb from the Ming Dynasty was never a piece of cake! Plus, this is also an excuse to post this fabulous picture of ROM board members in Egypt; I think it would be quite a feat to wear fur in Egypt but that woman is working the look.

Royal Ontario Museum Board Members in Egypt, 1910.

Story of the week

Suffrage Parade in New York City, 1912.

This weekend marks the anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution, which would finally give women in America the right to vote. On August 18th, 1920, the Amendment was ratified by Tennessee, giving it the two-thirds majority of state ratification necessary to make it into law.

Suffrage riots in front of the White House, 1916-1918.

It was not until 1848 that the movement for women’s rights in America launched on a national level with a convention in Seneca Falls, New York, organized by abolitionists Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902) and Lucretia Mott (1793-1880). Following the convention, demanding the vote became a centerpiece of the women’s rights movement. Stanton, Mott, and Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906) among others, formed organizations that lobbied the government and raised public awareness for the voting rights of women, combining tactics that were both militant and peaceable. And after 70 years, these groups finally saw success in their efforts with the passage of the 19th Amendment. I salute these brave and pioneering women!

Historypin heads to Brighton

The Historypin Team is getting excited as next week we will be hitting the road and heading down to Brighton to take part in Our Digital Planet.

Created by the Nominet Trust, Our Digital Planet is an outdoor street gallery exhibition demonstrating the power the internet has to change our lives for the better.

We’ll be down on the Promenade on Wednesday 22nd August to show some of the ace photos that have been pinned and help you add your memories about Brighton. So come down and say hello, armed with photos and stories to add!

If you can’t wait until Wednesday, Our Digital Planet will be in town from Thursday 16th August until Monday 3rd September. There will be an outdoor street gallery exhibition showcasing 24 thought-provoking images of the social impact of the internet, and a drop-in internet station where you can chat to Nominet volunteers about how to get started online or get more out of using the internet. And don’t forget to check the timetable for other activities that you can get involved with during the week from folks like We’re Altogether Better, DigitalMe and Made with Jam.

Don’t live in Brighton? Don’t worry, Our Digital Planet will be hopping all over the UK over the next few months. To find out more about other locations and details about Brighton activities, visit their website.

Hope to see you on the 22nd!

Introducing our new CTO

We’re very excited to introduce Mark Frost, who joins our London team as We Are What We Do’s new Chief Technical Officer.

Over the last few years, we’ve been lucky enough to have some fantastic developers, planners and designers come into the team and develop a stream of successful digital projects like Internet Buttons, the Action Tracker and, of course, Historypin. In June, we set out to find someone that could lead this team to the next stage of strategic development and high quality delivery. In July, we bumped in Mark and, just on Monday, he started as CTO.

Mark comes from a perfect background for We Are What We Do, learning his trade in Silicon Valley and making his way through top roles at AOL UK, the BBC and Capital Radio Group. Just as importantly, Mark is passionate about what we do and about using technology and creativity to create products that can change behaviours and affect major issues. Definitely more importantly, he has a whippet and makes his own olive oil.

We can’t wait to get stuck in with Mark. Historypin, in particular, has reached substantial scale and complexity and our other work, as it grows and evolves, demands the experience and confidence that he brings and which has already started to rub off on the team.

We’ll get Mark on stage shortly – he does a great Dock of the Bay – and in the meantime, have a read of his profile on our team page.

New iPhone app

Our all-new iPhone app has just been released and is now available in the app store.

The app helps you discover windows into the past by seeing and interacting with the history all around you.

In the new version, we’ve completely redesigned the interface to make it more usable and enjoyable to use. Plus, you can also now explore Tours on your phone, walking you step-by-step through a series pieces of themed content pinned to a route on the map. You can also now watch and listen to video and audio clips which have been pinned.

The new app now also shows all users’ Channels, so you can easily find everything uploaded and curated by individuals and institutions from around the world, including people like the US National Archives, Imperial War Museums and The English Heritage Archive. Everyone with a Channel on the Historypin site has a Channel on the app, so if you have a Channel, this app features your content!

The app keeps the core functionality it always had – revealing photos near your current location, allowing you to view them layered over the modern scene in front of you, exploring Collections of some of the best old photos from around the world and adding your own content to Historypin by using your phone to digitise an old photo, capture a modern moment of historic importance, or take a modern replica of a photo on the app.

And of course it still has everyone’s favourite feature: where if you shake it, shake it, shake it, shake it, shake it, shake it like polaroid picture, your phone will bring up a random awesome old photo.

Hope you like it.

Butter Sculptures, Virginia Woolf, and Runaway Calfs!

It’s friday again everyone! The Olympics are nearing the end, concluding this Sunday with the Closing Ceremony. It’s crazy to think of all the events that have been crammed into just two weeks. But then it’s on to more athletic action in the Paralympics starting August 29th. I know I’ll be cheering on double amputee Oscar Pistorius tonight in the 4x400m final, an inspirational runner competing in BOTH the Olympics and Paralympics. Now on to my Friday Favourites!

Pin of the week

Butter cow and milkmaid in Balboa Park, 1915.

Pin of the week comes from the Committee of 100, which works to preserve the architecture, gardens, and public spaces of Balboa Park in San Diego, California. This is really fun photo of a cow and milkmaid carved out of butter, on display in the Southern California Counties Building during the 1915 Panama-California Exposition. At the time, San Diego was the smallest of any city ever to attempt holding an international exposition, which celebrated the opening of the Panama Canal that same year. The displays from all over the world were fabulously eclectic, including fruits and vegetables arranged in colourful piles, elephants made of English walnuts, a Hawaiian village with a volcano, a working miniature oil well, and the turning out of maple syrup in a log cabin. That syrup plus some butter off the cow and milkmaid sculpture are only missing some waffles for a great breakfast!

The Southern California Counties Building housing the butter sculptures burned down in 1925, and was replaced by the present-day Museum of Natural History in 1932. Check out some great personal memories of the Exposition of the Committee of 100’s Channel.

Pinner of the Week

Virginia Woolf at Monk's House, 1931.

Pinner of the week goes to the Virginia Woolf Blog, which is dedicated to the life and legacy of the great writer. Whether you are a fan of her work or interested in literary society in the beginning of the twentieth-century, the Blog’s Channel has some lovely images that give us an insight into some of Woolf’s more intimate moments with friends and family. This was one classy lady!

Visit the Virginia Woolf Blog’s Channel to browse some more photos and the blog itself to read more about her life. Maybe you will find a candidate for that summer read you have been searching for.

Story of the Week

Spot the calf? Matthew and Mary Hannah, 1930-1932.

Story of the Week comes from user History Buff, whose Channel has some fantastic photos of local life in Ayr, Scotland. In the photo above, brother and sister Matthew and Mary Hannah are seen walking on the High Street in Ayr on a rainy day in the early 1930s. If you look closely, halfway between Mary’s shoulder and the lorry at the left of the photo there appears to be a calf crossing the road. A rather unfortunate explanation for the calf’s being there is that it could have escaped from the nearby slaughterhouse. The calf apparently made quite the journey along several streets and through a churchyard to where it can be seen. Everyone on the street seems unfazed by this moment, although Matthew may be looking at the calf over his shoulder. I love this photo because it is a classic example of ‘what doesn’t belong in this scenario?’

Do you have a photo of an encounter with an animal in your town? Pin them on our site! I have definitely had some standoffs with coyotes in my San Francisco neighborhood, but unfortunately getting away as soon as possible trumped any urge to take photos.

Looking At Your Street In A Different Light

Glen Park Bridge, May 20th, 1908. (Click for full screen Street View)

Have you ever lived in one place your entire life, and suddenly discover something really new and awesome about it? This is what happened when browsing around my hometown of San Francisco on Historypin. I found this old photograph, pinned by The San Francisco Municipal Transport Archives (SFMTA), of a street in the Glen Park neighborhood that I grew up around.  To me, this street usually means freshly-baked pies from the local bakery, tasty sizzling rice soup from the old Chinese establishment, and burritos from the taqueria. Yes, all food. Some of the best memories are culinary ones, right?

But this was not the street as I knew it; this photo was taken on May 20th, 1908, only two years after the great earthquake and fire that devastated San Francisco in 1906. The main feature of the photo are the visible train tracks, something I had no idea existed in this area. Around San Francisco there are few ghostly remnants of this once-popular mode of transportation, particularly around the piers, but it was great to see evidence of this history within a small San Francisco neighborhood.

Diamond Street at Chenery as it looks today.

Though the demand for new streetcars remained high after the 1906 earthquake, it was also an opportunity for the railway’s owners, the San Francisco and San Mateo Railway and United Railroads of San Francisco, to get rid of lines that were mostly unused. One such line was the one in the 1908 photo. This section was particularly dangerous; the steep hill of Chenery Street, located around the corner from where the tracks disappear on the right, was the scene of several runaway cars in the decade leading up to 1906. On the line’s opening day in 1892, 21 people were seriously injured when a car broke loose, and in the following years railcar brakes on this hill frequently failed and killed a number of passengers. It is no wonder that the railway’s owners decided to replace the line soon after the earthquake!

I was so inspired by SFMTA’s photo that I went out and found a great shot from The San Francisco History Center of the same railway and street from a different angle:

Glen Park Trolley on trestle crossing Islais Creek, c. 1890s. From the San Francisco History Center.

Street View: Glen Park trestle, 1890's. (Click for larger view)

The view above is from the current Glen Park Bart Station, a stop on the Bay Area Rapid Transit System that has long since replaced train-travel around San Francisco and beyond. SFMTA’s photo reveals just how much transportation has changed around the city and in my neighborhood, and will give me something to reflect upon when I run bleary-eyed for my train at Glen Park to the center of town.

This is a happy piece of local history that browsing Historypin has helped me to discover. If you have stumbled-upon something new about your neighborhood on Historypin, share it with us on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+!