Celebrating Chinese New Year

A couple of weeks back it was Chinese New Year and to celebrate Auckland Heritage Libraries have been busy pinning historical photos of Auckland’s Chinatown, including the Chinese market gardens over the centuries.

For more about the history of Chinese communities in Auckland, check out their blog post take a look at their blog post and the Collection on their Channel.

And for a whizz round some other Chinatowns, take a look at this Tour of Chinatowns in North America.

PS. If you were wondering, it’s the year of the snake.

Pinning at the Jewish East End Extravaganza

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 jcc.communitymap@gmail.com.

Charlotte Goodhart

Historypin on touch screens!

Embed of the Butler Project Channel

Embed of the Butler Project Channel, explorable through a touch screen in the exhibition. (By permission of the Master and Fellows of St John's College, Cambridge)

A while back I wrote about the fantastic Samuel Butler Project and a couple of weeks ago I got a chance to see it in action when I went down to their Butler Day – Adventures in Italy Exhibition. A series of enlightening talks and beautiful photos brought this fascinating Victorian polymath to life.

But one of the most exciting parts had to be seeing Historypin on touch screens! The folks at St John’s College Library had embedded their Historypin Channel on their own website which was displayed on some whizzy touch screens around the room.

So as well as hearing about Butler’s travels across Europe and seeing some beautiful prints of the images he took, visitors were able to link photo and places by browsing through their Historypin Channel.

We’ve seen organisations doing all sorts of cool things with their Channel, from app walking trails to bus shelters, but we’re pretty sure that Samuel Butler Project wins the prize for being the first to put their Channel on touch screens. (If we’re wrong, let us know!)

We hope its the first of many more innovative and interactive exhibitions integrating Historypin in imaginative ways. If you’ve done fun things with your Historypin Channel and your community or exhibits, let us know!

A selection of Butler's photos (By permission of the Master and Fellows of St John's College, Cambridge)

Snap Shots of Europe from the 1890s

For the past few months St John’s College Library, Cambridge has been busy pinning a great collection of photos taken by the Victorian polymath Samuel Butler. Butler lived in South England but travelled extensively through Europe, especially Italy. His photographs capture many everyday scenes in the 1880s and 1890s as well as the tourist destinations that we still flock to today including Pompeii, the Eiffel Tower and the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Take a look at St John’s College Library’s Channel or their site with Historypin embed to follow Butler on his journeys from England through Europe and over the Pyrenees to Italy.

Butler called his photographs ‘snap-shots’, and they really did capture many scenes in that precise moment, informal and unposed. Coffee carts, orange stalls and women washing clothes all figure largely in his work.

People and animals figured largely in his work, from man shaving a poodle in Naples to sheep on a steamboat. Have a look at these fun Collections of People at Work and Animals to see more.

You can find out more about the project to digitise Samuel Butler’s photographs here. And if you want to find our more about Butler, his travels through Italy and hear from someone who followed in his footsteps in 2012, armed with his diary and photos and recording her own, head down to the Butler Day Conference on 12th January at St John’s College, Cambridge.

The Historic New Orleans Photo Collection

Central Fire Station, 300 Block Decatur Street, 1928-1932.

Historypin recently helped to Street View hundreds of photos belonging to the Historic New Orleans Collection, a museum, research center, and publisher located in the heart of the French Quarter. Founded in 1966 by L. Kemper and Leila Williams, THNOC has grown to include collections of photography, film, jazz, literature, decorative arts, Mardi Gras memorabilia, and oral history narratives. The Collection’s Historypin images are drawn from the Charles L. Franck Studio Collection, comprising 16,000 photographs and negatives that chronicle the growth of Louisiana and New Orleans during the 20th century. From the classic iron-railing buildings of the French Quarter to the hustle and bustle of Canal Street, THNOC chronicles city-life for over half-a-century.

Here are some favorites that I found while Street Viewing:

Up Carondelet Street from the 100 Block, 1921-1925.

Up Canal Street from the 1000 Block, 1932-1936.

Mar - Jean Apartments, 1002 Esplanade Avenue, 1941.

French Market-Morning Coffee Call House, 1948-1952.

Having never been to New Orleans, going through this Collection extensively has made me feel like an honorary local. If you too want a tour of both old and present-day New Orleans, check out the rest of this fabulous Collection on the Historic New Orleans Collection Channel.  You can also check out their collection on their own Historic New Orleans iPhone app which we built for them.

10,000 photos shared by the National Collection of Aerial Photography

We are very excited to announce that the National Collection of Aerial Photography has joined Historypin, sharing 10,000 photos from their fantastic collections. With this impressive contribution they now have one of the largest collections of photographs on their Historypin Channel.

The 10,000 photos span the past 70 years and include images of Europe taken by the Royal Air Force during World War Two. The majority of the collection comprises stunning images of Scotland, from the dramatic coastline and outlying islands to villages and industrial town centres.

Have a browse their full Channel here – we recommend switching to ‘satellite’ view on the map so that you can see some compelling aerial comparisons.

It’s hard to pick the best, but here are a few of our favourites:

NCAP Aerial Photograph, Caen, 2 October 1944.

NCAP Aerial Photograph, Angers, 2 October 1944.

NCAP Aerial Photograph, Glasgow, 24 March 1950.

NCAP Aerial Photograph, Isle of Colonsay, Inner Hebrides, Scotland, 10 October 1988.

NCAP Aerial Photograph, Forth Railway Bridge, 22 October 1941.

The NCAP holds one of the largest collections of declassified military and non-military aerial photographs in the world. The fantastic accuracy of the photographs and the NCAP’s extensive recording of the collections has made it a highly useful archive and its images are used in TV documentaries and to locate unexploded bombs.

The 10,000 photos shared on Historypin are just the tip of the iceberg. There are tens of millions of images in their collection, of historical events and places in Scotland and around the world, and we look forward to more being pinned in the future.

Auckland Heritage Festival kicks off with a Tour on Historypin

This week the Auckland Heritage Festival begins, a fun-filled two week celebration of the city’s history.

We’re excited to be a small part of it as Auckland Libraries, Heritage & Research have created a great Tour which allows you to follow in the footsteps of John Logan Campbell (1817-1912), an influential figure in New Zealand’s history known as ‘the father of Auckland’. Sir John Logan Campbell passed away 100 years ago this year, and this Tour takes you to all around Auckland on a time-travelling visit to the places associated with him.

You can take the Tour here, or on the Historypin iPhone app.

If you want to know more about Sir John Logan, Auckland libraries collections or other heritage festival activities, visit Auckland Libraries’ blog.

And don’t forget to have a look at Auckland Libraries, Heritage & Research Channel which has tons of great pins. Here’s on of our favourites:

Official Opening of Cornwall Park, One Tree Hill, 1903


Inspired by Archivists

I had the great honor of spending a day at the Society of American Archivists annual meeting in San Diego on August 9, 2012.  They had invited me to give one of the opening keynotes (the audio and slides for which are embedded here), which gave me the opportunity to thank so many of the amazing archivists who have inspired me over the last few years, and to show some of the many examples of how archives are opening their collections for greater access, and demonstrate how people are interacting with content in new ways.  Of course I also talked about the potential of Linked Open Data and the importance of using WWW protocols and open licenses to share metadata, and how the archives, library and museum communities are beginning to play a leading role in this next internet revolution.

Just a note on the inside joke about the Green Bay Packers… they were actually staying in the hotel that the conference was held at, so there were a lot of Packers fans trolling the lobby in search of players/autographs. I thought that was a fun way to reflect on the importance of archivists, and how people really should be seeking autographs from the heroes who are doing so much to preserve cultural memory for future generations!

Special thanks to Nancy Beaumont, SAA Executive Director, and Gregor Trinkaus-Randall, 2011-12 SAA President, for inviting me to speak.  I also want to thank all of the archivists and friends who overwhelmed me with such a warm welcome. It was a truly inspiring experience for me.

The Olympic Torch returns to Reading

At 6.14pm today, the Olympic Torch will arrive in Reading. This will be the second time the famous flame has passed through as the town was also a stop during the 1948 Torch Relay. This marks Reading out as one of the very few places in the UK to host the Torch twice – whilst the 2012 route sees the Torch carried all around the British Isles, in 1948 the flame only went to 15 places, all of which were in southern England.

Cameras were not widely owned when the Olympic torch last visited Reading, and images of the Torch in Reading in 1948 are very rare. Reading Museum has a few of these precious images and have pinned them, including this one taken by a member of the public and lent to the museum by a private collector. It shows Cemetery Junction when hundreds of people turned out at Cemetery Junction to see the torch pass from K.R. Martin to W.O. Nichols.

K.R. Martin handing the Olympic Torch to W.O. Nichols

Did you see the 1948 Torch Relay? Have you seen the Torch in other decades or countries?

Add your photos and memories to Historypin to build up a picture of past Torch moments and stories.

Nick 'Wally' Nichols carrying the Torch through Reading.

In 1948 the torchbearers were young athletes chosen from the Reading Athletics Club for their appearance and stamina. This time the torchbearers of Reading will represent a cross section of the community and includes individuals that have raised substantial amounts for charities. With the youngest torchbearer aged just 12 and the oldest 74 Reading is also making sure all generations will be represented on this historic relay. Tonight a flame will be lit in the Madejski Stadium, home of Reading FC for a big celebration celebrating the diversity of Reading.

Are you planning to watch the Torch pass through Reading? Have you seen it pass through your area already?

Add your photos and stories to Historypin to record the Torch’s 2012 journey.