From pinathons to storytelling sessions, we love hearing about all the different ways that people around the world are using Historypin with their communities. So this week we’re excited to have a guest post from Charlotte Goodhart (@CharGoodhart) who was part of the team from the Jewish Community Centre running a Historypin workshop at the ‘Jewish East End Extravaganza’ last month. If you too have been using Historypin in interesting ways, let us know!
On the 27th January, the Jewish Community Centre for London held the ‘Jewish East End
Extravaganza’, at Rich Mix in Bethnal Green. The event consisted of a variety of different activities including workshops about the traditional trades of the East End, a food stand hosted by Kosher Roast and walking tours of the area led by Rachel Kolsky.
Myself and Alex Eisenberg work with the Jewish Community Centre for London and as part of the day we used Historypin to create a digital map of the Jewish East End. Prior the event, we created our own Historypin Channel and put out a call for photographs and memories of area from people who had lived there or had other family ties to the area.
We hit gold when we were able to access the archives at The Jewish Museum, which contains thousands of fantastic images. Luckily for us, the museum has been very strict about keeping records of donated images, so we were able to access a wealth of information about what we were looking at.
We also met with some people, who are still living in east London and made a trip to Stepney Jewish Day Centre, where staff pulled out a treasure trove, in the form of a ‘memories box’ that contained hundreds of photos and albums from the last century. These included photos of the Queen Mother in Stepney when she visited the Synagogue in 1956! We also spoke with visitors to the centre about their experiences of the East End, many of whom are in their 80s and 90s and had many stories to share.
On the day itself, we weren’t sure what to expect! We set up a ‘mapping hub’ (pictured below) on the stage at Rich Mix, with a couple of computers, a scanner and a projector showing some photos we had already collected.
Despite some glitches (a very late tech man and a very temperamental scanner) the day was a great success and both Alex and myself got to meet some fascinating characters, including a man whose father was a famous East End ballroom dancer that is rumoured to have impressed Fred Astaire! Here he is with his dance partner looking very dapper:
The marketing team at the JCC had made public requests for more images and we were pleasantly surprised by the amount of response we received – I am still in the process of uploading the images shared with us!
Everyone was keen to see what we were doing and find out about any plans for the future. There was a lot of positive response from visitors who were enthusiastic about the importance of preserving the history of the Jewish East End, especially as there is now only a very small and elderly community there, the majority of the community having moved away in the decades following the Second World War.
Historypin is the perfect space for the preservation of this history, due to its simplicity in use and its mass availability. We hope to extend the project, first across London and perhaps later in other parts of the UK. Many people who attended were disappointed that the specification was just for photos of the East, as their parents and grandparents had lived around Soho and Bloomsbury before the Second World War. Equally, whilst London was the starting point for so many Jewish migrants, it wasn’t the only place; many went to Liverpool, Glasgow Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle and even Bristol – this really shows the potential for a long term, more inclusive project.
The project is ongoing and if you would like to be involved or you have some images you would like added, please do email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.