For history geeks and historical documentary lovers like us, American Experience is the big leagues. So you can imagine how thrilled we were to be approached by the producers of “tv’s most-watched history series” to discuss working together. Having logged countless couch hours watching their documentaries, we jumped at the chance of working with their fabled team to kickstart a campaign around “Mapping History.”
We’re excited to be playing a part in their new three-part series, The Abolitionists, airing beginning January 8 on PBS. As part of the extensive online interactive components of the series, you’ll find The Abolitionist Map of America, and an exclusive iPhone App, which highlights photographs, audio and video from the film, as well as content from the many cultural heritage partners that contributed source material, and even individual users.
It’s the first time the Historypin framework has been utilized to support a film, and offers a new and unique way of highlighting the source materials featured throughout. The embedded map and gallery browsers give viewers the ability to spatially explore the content and see how the story fits into local history, while at the same time digging deeper into the source collections, and even adding their own comments and stories to each individual piece of content. From the producers perspective, it adds a participatory element that gives content providers and viewers a voice within the narrative, and a new lens for the filmmakers to highlight the curatorial aspect of their work. Finally, cultural heritage partners have been enthusiastic about the Historypin integration because it gives them a chance to bring viewers deeper into their collections without leaving the environment of the film.
You can expect to see more exciting projects like this in the coming year, and we’ll be creating greater integration of other documentary content into the main Historypin site.
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.
We’re chuffed to announce that Historypin has been selected to be in the The Sunday Times App List 2012, and it even has a little star next to it meaning we’re extra special apparently.
Our free app, available on iPhone and Android, lets you explore all the content that has been pinned to Historypin and flick through Collections created by users. You can also find photos near your location and use the augmented reality function to see photos on your screen, fading between past and present. And you can use your phone’s camera to capture and pin moments of history when you’re on the move, or take modern replicas of historical photos.
You can take the full Tour of the Penn Quarter Neighborhood on the Historypin site. Or if you’re in DC, download the Historypin app to your tablet or smartphone to see the photos in situ as you walk between the Walter E. Washington Convention Center toward the National Archives building and National Mall area. As you stroll down the main corridor and sidestreets of 7th Street NW, the Historypin app will use your GPS location to suggest images along the route where you can stop and view historic photographs and documents from the past, juxtaposed with modern scenery. Stops include the nation’s first telegraph office and Ford’s Theater in 1865.
You can use your phone to discover the history of the streets around you, revealing photos (and the stories behind them) and overlaying them onto the live camera view. Fade in and out to compare today with how the world used to look.You can also explore all the photos on the Historypin site through the map interface and see themed Collections of the best content from around the world, transporting you to Germany in the 1890s or Boston in 1970s, when you’re stuck on a bus in New York in 2011, or anywhere else for that matter…
Testing it out by St Pauls Cathedral amidst lots of London rain...
Your phone also now allows you to add your own piece of history to the Historypin map. Use it to digitise an old photograph and pin it to the date and time it was taken, making it much easier to get your old photos on the site.
Or, if you witness something of historic importance, be it a presidential address or sporting victory, capture it with your phone camera and upload it directly to Historypin.
The app also lets people take modern replicas of old photos they discover through the app, providing a useful comparison for other users.
Plus, if you shake it, shake it, shake it, shake it like a Polaroid picture, your phone will bring up some of the best photos from all over the globe.
We took it for a test drive near our offices, and really enjoyed the old photos and stories that sprung up when we were around St Paul’s cathedral.
Download it now and a look for yourself.
Lining up a picture of St Pauls Cathedral from 1910
We love this modern replica of Robinson Street and Grove Avenue, Richmond, VA taken by @vndls.
It was taken with the new Andoid app which let’s you find historical photos nearby and take exact modern equivalents. This historical photo wasn’t overlaid on Street View before, so this replica is particularly interesting because it’s created a modern comparison.
Looking forward to seeing more historical images linked to the present, bringing to life all the moments, big and small, that have happened in the spaces of our neighbourhoods through the years.