Storytelling and mince pies

Mr. and Mrs. Buckel come prepared with a whole album of photo memories to share with our Exec. Director Nick Stanhope

Yesterday we hit the road and went to Didcot, Oxfordshire to gather stories and photos for ‘Remember how we used to’. We were guests at npower’s annual Christmas lunch for former employees, the perfect place to find stories and memories.

A former npower employee shares vintage photos and memories with us

Everyone was eager to share their memories with us, and came prepared with photos, old newspapers, brochures, and even paintings! With over 100 people there was endless  reminiscing about the good ol’ days and catching up with old friends.

Together with our super npower volunteers Sunita, Liz, Emma and Trisha, we had a really fun-filled afternoon collecting photos and stories. From miners’ strikes to family open days at the power station, from local coronation parties to proudly appearing in the npower newsletter, these garrulous retirees remembered how they used to work, play, celebrate and more.

Old friends catch up before Christmas lunch

We loved hearing these stories first-hand and as an added bonus we also got to share in a wonderful Christmas lunch, complete with Christmas crackers and mince pies. A lovely time indeed!

We will be adding the photos and stories we collected to ‘Remember How We Used To’ and blogging about the best of them, so watch this space. And over the coming months we’ll be holding more sessions like this with community groups  and schools around the country.

Visit the Didcot Retirees Channel to see the great photos and stories we collected.

If you have photos and stories to share about how we used to cook and clean, watch and listen, work, play, keep warm and celebrate, add them to the project here.

All new Historypin!

We are proud to launch a brand new Historypin!

After months of researching, planning, designing, testing and building we are ready to share with you all a major new redesign which, we hope, shows off all your content in the best possible light and gives you lots of new features to enjoy.

The all new homepage now has a Pin of the Day gallery, so the winning images of this prestigious award can be easily seen by all. You can also look back through past winners. Upload your best images to be in for a chance of featuring here.

We also have a brand new totaliser, the arrival of which is well timed as we have just reached 200,000 materials shared on Historypin. Thankyou to every one of you that has contributed to this figure.

You can now see every item added to Historypin in the new Activity Feed, which shows what you are all doing on the site, be it adding photos, videos and audio clips, favoriting other people’s contributions, adding comments, creating Tours and Collections or adding items to Projects.

Projects are also a new feature. They bring together content around certain themes. We now have several projects including Year of the bayRemember how we used to… and My Grandparents are better than yours for you to explore, add to and comment on.

Loads of work has gone into tidying things up, beautifying and simplifying the user experience and interface, plus there has been lots of techy work finding solutions to difficult problems behind the scenes. A massive thankyou and congratulations is due to the creative and digital teams – check out their faces here.

Some ‘Remember When’ Friday Favourites

This week, we launched our exciting new project ‘Remember When We Used To,’ an archive of memories showing how energy has transformed our lives. Below are just a few ‘Remember How’ memories that have been shared with us:


Card Catalog Inside the Covington Library, 1980.

Do you remember how we used to look for books with a card catalogue? This photo of a student inside the Covington Library in Kentucky, pinned by the Kenton County Public Library, demonstrates the concentration required to search for books manually before computers became common search tools. I especially like the fun detective drawing helping kids to find books by author and title.

Finding books used to be a more engaging process; the searching was certainly an event in itself. I remember our teacher taking us to our school library and showing us how to search for books in the card catalogue, and making up games to see who could search for the right book the fastest. There was also always that one trouble-maker in the class who would mix up all of the cards in the drawers, making it a nightmare for the poor librarian to reorganise.

With computers as commonplace search tools, studying in the library or browsing for books in a bookstore is now less about the work involved in searching and more about the varied results one can get in a short amount of time.

Do you remember those pesky card catalogues? Share your memories with us here!


Cambridge United vs. Burton Playoffs, May 2008.

User Richard Nurse recently shared his favourite celebratory moment, of a pitch-invasion moment at Abbey Stadium, Redditch, UK in 2008. Here he captures the moment after his team, Cambridge United, beat Burton Albion in the semi-finals to get to Wembley Stadium in the Conference Play-Off Finals. It’s a great shot that captures a cherished personal memory.

For my fellow sports fans out there, you will know that some of the best celebratory moments are the ones when your home team celebrates a crucial win; whether its a family football game or professional match, whether player or spectator, the pride in bringing home a victory is something that can stick with you for a long time.

Did your home team ever grab a win after trailing? Have you or someone you know score the winning point? Share them with us and let us know how you celebrated afterwards.


Saturday Night Fever, June 1978.

Now technically this photo is not of people playing, but I believe dancing can definitely fall under this category. User AndyT shared this great photo memory of a campus dance demo at the University of York in 1978. As with many universities today, York had a special day when people were encouraged to visit the campus. In June 1978 the attractions on offer included what AndyT describes as “very cool” students showing off the latest dance moves, seen here outside Central Hall. Anyone familiar with the disco dances of the 1970’s will know that the style above was best-demonstrated by this guy:

John Travolta on the Saturday Night Fever (1977) film poster.

Everyone wanted Travolta’s cool dance moves, so it’s no wonder young people all over the world took them up on their school campuses. My own university open-day didn’t feature disco, but there were many other ‘current’ styles on offer like hip-hop; changing dance-styles are a reflection of the times, and is also one of those things that can immediately trigger memories (some not so great) of how we used to ‘play.’

If you have some dance-filled university memories, or evidence of some now-dated moves, share them with us here.

We would love to see your personal memories of how we used to work, play, watch and listen, keep warm, celebrate. Visit the project page here.

Research from Libraries, Archives & Museums on Historypin

Medical records staff, 1933, shared by State Library of New South Wales

We’re fortunate to work with many cultural heritage partners who are putting a lot of thought and research into the ways they can share their collections with the world, from physical exhibitions to digital engagement strategies, and everything in between. Many have documented and published their experience of working with Historypin, which not only helps colleagues understand what goes into creating a Channel on Historypin or an embed, but also the logistical considerations of issues such as policy decisions, allocating staff time, and engaging with the public on metadata refinement.

I’d like to highlight just a few articles and posts that might be helpful for you if you are considering getting started on Historypin at your institution. I’m sure I’ve missed some–please feel free to add others in the comments.

For Libraries:
State Library of New South Wales blog post: The social life of photographs: where, when and what happened? by Mylee Josephs. Accessed December 6, 2012.

Journal article in Partnership: the Canadian Journal of Library and Information Practice and Research, Vol 7, No 2 (2012). Historypin for Library Image Collections: New Modes of Access for Unique Materials at the University of Saskatchewan Library. By Craig Harkema and Catherin Nygren, University of Saskatchewan. Accessed December 6, 2012.

For Archives:
Journal article in Archival Outlook, published by the Society of American Archivists. Using Historypin to Illustrate the Past and Engage the Public. Pp 4-5, 26. By Shannon Lausch and Chad Garrett, UALR Center for Arkansas History and Culture. (Caution: the link takes you to the full issue pdf, which can take some time). July/August, 2012. Accessed December 6, 2012.

For Museums: Q and A with Nick Stanhope, Creator of Historypin. By Megan Gambino. Published August 31, 2011. Accessed December 6, 2012.

Blog post on Collections Link, published by Collections Trust: The Participatory Museum. By Nick Poole and Nick Stanhope. Posted July 20, 2012. Accessed December 6, 2012.

Phillips Museum of Art blog post: Fostering 21st Century Skills at The Phillips Museum. Posted November 28, 2012. Accessed December 6, 2012.  And here is their Curating the City Channel showcasing a number of tours and collections using very different approaches to curation on Historypin.

Remember how we used to…

Daily Herald circulation department, 11th May 1935, shared by National Media Museum

Remember how we used to work, play, watch and listen, cook and clean, keep warm and celebrate?

We are excited to announce a brand new project that looks back at how energy has changed the way we do everything things over the last century and are looking for your contributions.

Almost everything we do, from making breakfast to going to work, is very different to how our grandparents did it.

In 1952, when Queen Elizabeth II took the throne, only one in five households had a washing machine, one in ten a telephone, one in twenty a fridge. Almost nobody had central heating. Fewer than half of all households had a television and less than one in five households had a car.

Children listening to talking books, 1953, shared by Mirrorpix

Over the last 60 years children have changed the way they play, workplaces have changed the way they look, and we have shifted our tastes in the music we listen to and the clothes we wear.

So if you’ve got a photo of your parents watching retro TVs, or your granddad working in an office for example, add it in!

Girls listening to the Ruffler and Walker jukebox, 1964, shared by Mirrorpix

The project was created in partnership npower and Mirrorpix and aims to collate over 5,000 photos, videos, audio clips and stories around this theme from across the UK by Spring 2013. To help do this we’ll be running workshops and memory bank sessions with a selection of schools, care homes and retired npower employees to gather old photos and memories.

Explore this archive of amazing photos and add yours here.

New exhibition exploring ‘The Participatory Museum’ concept

An innovative new exhibition opens at Europe House today, featuring photographs from The Imperial Museums with annotations giving a wealth of information about each image, gathered by a series of crowdsourcing events organised by Historypin.

You can see a preview of the images here.

It runs from 3rd Dec to 7th Dec at Europe House, 32 Smith Square, London, SW1P 3EU. Open from 10am-6pm.

The photographs are from the Q Series, a remarkable collection of 120,000 images showing life during the First World War, on land, at sea, in the air and at home.

The collection includes material from a wide range of sources, including the Ministry of Information, War Office and Foreign Office, newspaper photography from outlets such as the Daily Mirror and Daily Mail as well as images illustrating the war efforts of France, Germany, Italy and the USA.

Beyond the original captions associated with each image, much of the contextual data and narrative around this collection hasn’t been previously gathered or recorded.

Over the summer of 2012, the Historypin teamed up with the Imperial War Museum to start to harness the capacity and knowledge of the crowd to gather this information. Through a series of events, drawing on the knowledge and enthusiasm of many different people, from school students, to military experts, to archivists and curators, we have uncovered a few of the mysteries of the Q Series. It was incredibly humbling to see the amount of knowledge, passion and desire to help that filled the room during these sessions.

Adding data to First World War Photos

You can see all the photographs discussed on the Imperial War Museums Channel, many of which have had their data improved or their location identified following these enlightening sessions.

The findings from the sessions have been used to annotate the photographs to create fascinating layered images showing a wealth of information. This exhibition provides a glimpse of how participation can bring collections to life and open up new understanding, through comments and annotations.

The exhibition runs until Friday at Europe House, 32 Smith Square. London, SW1P 3EU.

Tonight, Chief Execs Nick Stanhope of Historypin and Nick Poole of the Collections Trust will be opening the exhibition and speaking about how cultural institutions are involving their communities more as collaborators and participants.

Last summer, in their article on ‘The Participatory Museum‘ Nick and Nick discussed ideas around how ‘end-users’ can become much more involved with the whole duration of museum projects. They painted the powerful potential this could have for engaging audiences, connecting online and offline worlds and putting museums at the heart of communities.

Through Historypin’s work, we’ve seen loads of great instances of conversations about historical content – be it online among history geeks on forum threads, museum tagging games or amongst grandpas having a pint in the pub.

Our aim is to use technology to capture the best from all these worlds and create a tool that works for both analog and digital crowd-sourcing communities, translating conversations into useful structures to be explored and augmented by others. Through this innovative approach, we hope more people will be inspired to come together around personal, local and cultural collections. So keep an eye out as we continue to delve deeper into participatory collections.