Europeana Tech 2015

Last week, the Historypin team united from as far as San Francisco, London and Sofia, Bulgaria to attend Europeana Tech 2015 conference at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (National Library of France) in Paris.

The conference brought together a diverse range of people from application developers, technologists, researchers, designers, and cultural heritage professionals to share knowledge and work together to help shape the future of cultural content.

Check out the Euopeana Tech programme 2015 here and the tweet list here.

Discussions were interesting, varied, and delved into the current challenges of working with cultural content including discoverability, the importance of rich metadata and how this can be achieved through technical and crowdsourced modes, optimised web search, publicity and R&D. Reuse was another important strand to be discussed including the latest designs and ideas to facilitate reuse in a way which would prevent the separation of content from it’s metadata.

Historypin’s Jon Voss spoke about the critical role that open data and technology can play in creating social value and how cultural heritage can be harnessed to help build stronger communities. He shared some of the great local projects around the world using Historypin, from neighbourhood history projects to reminiscence sessions, and local story collecting.

We heard from some inspirational speakers including Seb Chan (Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum), Dan Cohen (DPLA), Andy Neale (DigitalNZ), George Oates (Good Form & Spectacle), Tim Sherratt (Trove), Dr Chris Welty (Google), James Morely (Europeana Foundation) and Jon Voss (Historypin).

Thank you to Europeana for organising an insightful and fascinating conference and to the Bibliothèque Nationale de France for hosting.

First World War Engagement Centres Meet Up

Last week, we joined a meet up of the five UK First World War Engagement Centres which took place in the beautiful setting of Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre in Selly Oak, Birmingham.

The Engagement Centres are based in clusters of Universities across the UK and are designed to be hubs to support local community groups running commemorative First World War projects and to work with them to build new collaborative research projects. Check them out here

Voices of War and Peace, Birmingham

Everyday Lives in War, Hertfordshire

Centre for Hidden Histories, Nottingham

Gateways to the First World War, Kent

Living Legacies 1914-18, Belfast

The Engagement Centres are connecting with many of the projects using the Historypin First World War hub and we are working with them to support online and offline collaboration.

Here are some great examples of what’s happening so far. From past events such as a FWW roadshow, a talk on the Christmas truce of 1914 and a 1930s film screening of ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ to future events such as ‘WW1 AND YOU’ – an interactive event to share stories and memorabilia and an exciting performance of ‘Oh What a Lovely War’ and much much more.

The meet up was a great opportunity to get together with everyone from the Centres, hear about the variety of activities so far and find out about what’s on the horizon. Keep an eye on Historypin and the Centres for more news.

We’re hiring!

Digging into local history in the pub with locals and staff from the Museum of English Rural life in Bucklebury ,Wiltshire, UK.

We’re excited to announce that we’re recruiting a new Project Officer for the Historypin Team based at our London HQ:

Over the next two years we will be running the community engagement programme for Ambrosia, a European-wide project to bring communities together to discover, share and explore their food & drink heritage.

We’re looking for someone to support our team to deliver this programme. If you’re experienced with community engagement, passionate about working with local communities and familiar with working with cultural heritage organisations, read more about the role and apply here:


Interview with Chloë, Historypin Intern

Name: Chloe Chandler

Role: Historypin Intern

Why did you want to intern at Historypin?

Historypin intern Chloë ChandlerWhy wouldn’t I want to intern at Historypin! Whilst I’m someone who loves museums and cultural institutions of all kinds, the value of the amazing things that these cultural institutions contain lies (for me) in the human stories associated with them and the way in which they can help us to generate discussions. It’s these discussions that I’m really interested in, as I believe that talking and engaging with one another and our stories/ experiences is the crucial basis for a happier world. Historypin provides a fantastic world-wide digital platform to get people talking and I was keen to learn more about how the digital can facilitate a positive community. Everyone can contribute to the discussion about who we are, where we have been, and, crucially, where we are going. Every personal story that is recounted via a photo or another object slowly makes up our rich communal history. I love that.

How did you come to hear of the project?

As someone who has (for far too long) been shamefully unaware of all things digital, a friend introduced me to Historypin as a gateway into better understanding the benefits that the technological world has to offer the world of cultural heritage. I even applied for a job at the London office! Whilst I wasn’t quite lucky enough to secure this position, I was sent a very nice email by the lovely team and so I decided to give them a call and see if I could get involved in the project in another way- luckily for me, they agreed!

Describe an average day for you as a Historypin Intern:

An average day… I’m not sure one exists! Well, the month I have spent in the london office has been mainly focused around contributing to the re-organisation of the Historypin social media channels. This means I have spent quite a bit of time gaining an overview of past Pins of the Day, trying to pin down (pun intended) what makes a really great photo! I have then been trying to hunt down some of these ‘magic’ images for future Pins of the Day- this is no easy task! Luckily for me, searching the Historypin map and various channels means that no day is spent without witnessing some extraordinary moment in time.

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

When I’m not at Historypin I help out on a few other projects for Picturehouse Cinemas and University College Hospital/ University College London Museums and Collections. I’m interested in heritage and wellbeing, and using heritage in unconventional contexts, so I spend a lot my time hunting down or creating unusual projects that I can work on! I have recently been lucky enough to find paid work, so these projects will be filling my weekends for the time being. However, when I’m not working, I trawl London’s infinite supply of cafes searching for my new favourite cake- a mission I take way too seriously.

What’s been your best moment here?

My best moment… I think, for me, it hasn’t been a case of one moment above all others but rather a slow realisation of how much I have learnt over the weeks I have spent in the office- especially in terms of my digital awareness. I have gone from feeling daunted by the prospect of putting together a tweet, to helping to create a series of videos for the Historypin Youtube channel! Don’t laugh, this is a big deal for me.

What is the oddest job you’ve been asked to do in the name of Historypin?

I haven’t been asked to do anything particularly odd on behalf of Historypin, but nevertheless oddness has come my way. Whilst helping the team to look for experts/ enthusiasts in the art and history relating to the World Wars, I came across some individuals who mixed these interests with their love of Britney Spears. Some people have eclectic tastes!

What excites you the most about Historypin?

What excites me about Historypin is probably the same thing that excites most people who engage with the project- the fact that you never know what you will stumble across! I have seen photos of women trying to sell Dodos in Trafalgar Square, a shocked audience witnessing a volcanic eruption off of the coast of Japan, to the most extraordinarily early colour photo of New York at the turn of the twentieth century. Incredible.

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

I’m afraid I can’t! I have to be the only Historypin Intern to have not created my own channel, but all the photos I would want to pin are tucked away at my parents’ house and are therefore not here with me in london. Mine is definitely a family who loves to look through our old photos though, so next time I am home my mum and I will furiously start pinning! Once we start, I fear there will be no stopping us. That said, I do have a couple of nice photos at hand of my great-grandparents at the British seaside and my mum (in the green dress), auntie, and grandma a la 1970s courtesy of old Facebook posts.

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

My favourite photo is probably one entitled ‘Eggs for Hitler’, which was pinned by St3rlingStud3nt2. The photo depicts two black Second World War Allied soldiers in a German forest holding bombs with the slogan ‘Happy Easter Hitler’ scrawled across them. Intended as a joke at the time, this comedic element of the photo helps to bring the strange world of warfare into focus. It is so bizarre to see soldiers smiling whilst holding live shells. The silliness of the photo jars against the deadly seriousness of their situation. It highlights the way in which humour probably played a huge part in keeping people sane during such a terrifying and awful time- but I do wonder what happened to the two soldiers in the photo. Did they make it out of Germany? I really hope so.

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

Whilst I love the photos of historic events on a grand scale, my passion lies with examples of the smaller and more personal moments of people’s lives. Where the family event is the big event. A great example of this was a photo that I happened to come across of a cake someone had made in celebration of the unification of Germany.

It is by no means the most visually striking image posted onto Historypin, but I’m so glad someone took the time to pin it as it offers us a snapshot of the amazing and complex way that personal history and the everyday (ie. baking a cake) continually makes up and intersects with our wider history. Photos like this highlight the way in which every person experiences, creates, and re-presents their own personal version of history in an infinite amount of ways. That, and the photo combines my two passions- history and cake!

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

Wow- well, that’s the question! Everyone has their own personal reasons for wanting to share their stories and photos with others in their daily lives, which is so important for just connecting with people. The great thing about Historypin is that it takes this interaction to the next level. You still have that interaction, but by doing this digitally you can mesh stories and perspectives on a much larger scale and become active in helping to create the story of everyone. Everything becomes much more fun when you do it with others- history is no exception!

What do you think the future of Historypin is?

I’m not sure what the future of Historypin is, but I know what I would like it to be! As well as continuing to enrich our collection of historic photos, I would really love to see people engaging with more and more recent history. All history is made in the present and I would love people to engage with this idea a bit more by exploring the very recent past as history. By becoming aware of the blurred lines between the past and the present I think we can actively engage with the world around us in a more critical way. By taking control of the past we can shed new light on our present and, more importantly, specifically shape the future to be one that we would like to live in.


If you have any desire to read more of the same heritage-related waffling I have a very sporadic and underused blog/ twitter account which you are very welcome to visit:


Interview with Joyce, Historypin Intern


Name: Joyce Yu

Role: Historypin intern

Why did you want to intern at Historypin?

I love maps and I love storytelling. Historypin combines those two things together. I’m in what’s known as the Digital Humanities and Historypin is one of my favourite examples of how digital tools can be paired with areas in the Humanities and Social Sciences to create an incredibly unique way to share and display content.

How did you come to hear of the project?

I originally found Historypin by searching through the App store on my iPhone. I was interested in seeing if there were any established applications that allowed users the ability to geolocate their current locations and show them old images or interactive media of the same location. From there, I was lead to the website and different forms of social media associated with Historypin.

Describe an average day for you as a Historypin Intern

Every day brings something different and another cool project to explore. There have been several days where the focus was on uploading stories and photos to finish a project. There could be a few days where I’m meeting participants who are testing the interface of the website and another day where I’m looking at art from World War 1.

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

I’m not from London so I’ve spent a lot of time walking around and getting lost in neighbourhoods. I think the best way to explore a city is to get lost and see what unfolds. I also like to pretend that I’m a local, but my tendency to walk around with my neck angling towards the sky trying to find a street sign gives me away, every time. I’m also finishing my thesis on psychogeography and digital mapping so there are days when I’m tucked away in a coffee shop with my laptop.

What’s been your best moment here?

There have been many, but it was a great moment to see images on a spreadsheet become a collection of stories on a finished project (Europeana 1989). It’s also been really fun to see how all the pieces fall together from behind the scenes.

What is the oddest job you’ve been asked to do in the name of Historypin?

Honestly, I can’t think of anything that I’ve done here that’s odd. Although, I had pockets of missing knowledge from World War 1 that I can now say have been successfully filled.

What excites you the most about Historypin?

I love the way that maps and city spaces can be represented with memories and stories. I’ve found myself thinking, “how do we show that on a map?” every time someone shows me a collection of photos or even a spreadsheet of data.

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

This is one of my favourite places in my hometown and I grew up walking up and down these streets. Historical factoid: This would have been the first point of contact with the city when new settlers would see when they got off the train.

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

I can’t decide on a single photo that is my favourite, but I love the Remember how we used to and Year of the Bay collections.

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

This may only be tangentially related, but I would love to see a collection of people’s individual mental maps overlayed on top of the conventional map. We all see and navigate our city a little differently and it would be really interesting to see how that changes over time.

What do you think the future of Historypin is?

I can only see Historypin growing bigger because of how many bridges it has to different worlds. The projects work on such an incredible interdisciplinary level that brings people from the digital world, history, design, archives…it’s all relevant and everyone’s excited. I see great things.

Contact @joycemyu

Historypin needs your help!

School girls using computers, 1987. Pinned by Mirrorpix Archives.

Self-improvement is very important to us here at Historypin, and this month we’re working on developing new tools and refining current ones on our website. We couldn’t do it without you though, so we’re looking for some eager participants who would like to come in to the office, have a cuppa and test some current and new features on the Historypin website with one of our team members.

We’re looking for people who are fairly new to Historypin, so if you’re a long-time user, introduce us to one of your friends or family members and come along! We’d love to meet you and send you both home with some swag that includes some of our We Are What We Do stationery ( ), Historypin stickers and postcards.

If you’d like to participate, please fill out our contact form here and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible!

Click here for contact form

Some info:


We have limited spaces for participants so we’ll contact people in the order that they respond. We are looking for relatively new users to Historypin, but if you’ve been following Historypin for awhile and forward this post to someone new, we’d love to meet both of you.


Participants will get a sneak peak at new features to the Historypin website and give direct input on how they can be refined. We’ll ask you to test a few simple tasks using new/existing tools and ask that you to share your experience.


We’ll be working out of our London office, so apologies for those who aren’t local. More details on the location will be sent out when we start contacting participants.

Once we start receiving participation requests, we’ll start sending out specific times and dates for you to choose from. We are looking for people on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays during the daytime.


It will be a completely painless process – promise! We will need approximately 1 ½ hour of your time and you’re welcome to withdraw at any time. This would include a short interview, a set of tasks involving tools on the Historypin website, and a brief exit questionnaire. And, don’t forget about that cuppa.


We’re hiring!

Volunteers and Historypin staff at Magic Me pinning session.

We’re excited to announce that we are recruiting two new positions on the Historypin Team:

Behind the scenes tours of the most venerable historical institutions of the world? Check. Pinning dusty old photos to a map in a pub and hearing the hilarious or heartbreaking stories behind them? Check.

Project Officers are responsible for supporting the delivery of our growing portfolio of Historypin Projects around the world. From liaising with stakeholders to running activities with local communities, you’ll be involved with innovative projects combining digital and on-the-ground engagement.

As part of our creative and dynamic team, Project Officers will also play an integral role in the development of Historypin. In particular they will be involved with the research, testing and refinement  of new toolsets for crowd-sourcing of historical content and collaborative storytelling.

If you’re passionate about cultural heritage and community engagement, read more about the roles and apply here:

Project Officer, London

Project Officer, San Francisco

Interview with Historypin MLIS Intern, Andrew Crawford

S. Andrew Crawford joined us for an internship over the fall of 2012, and served as both our first MLIS intern and first virtual intern. Andrew did a fantastic job outlining various metadata standards across libraries, archives, and museums to our team, and researched potential tools and insights for metadata crosswalks.

How did you find out about Historypin?

I actually heard about Historypin through my faculty mentor/advisor Dr. Margaret E. I. Kipp. In order to finish up my masters I had to do a few credits worth of fieldwork, and when I approached Margaret about opportunities, Historypin was the first thing she showed me. After looking over the site I knew that it was just the sort of organization that I’d been hoping to work with. From there I got in touch with Jon and the rest is history.

What’s your primary interest of study, and what kinds of innovations do you think are on the horizon in your field? 

My primary areas of study are UX design, metadata, and linked data / the Semantic Web. As someone who has spent a lot of time looking into the ways people interact with information technology, I’m a bit biased towards the notion that the next big wave of innovation is going to come out of a desire to develop technologies around the basic cognitive processes that define the way people understand the world around them. As I see it, the Semantic Web is the ultimate expression of that intention. By restructuring Web content in a way that allows machines to approximate our ability to make inferences we’re laying the foundation to make the process of using the Web much more intuitive. I’m a big fan of Marshall McLuhan, and when you view the Semantic Web through the lens of his theories on media it becomes clear just how much of an extension of our own cognitive faculties it is. I genuinely feel that the innovations that are going to matter in the coming years are going to be those that are rooted in an understanding of the narrowing gap between human thought and digital processing. And not just because Ray Kurzweil’s working for Google.

Since you’ve been working on a lot of back-end and database issues, have you had much of a chance to poke around the content? Have you found any favorites?

Honestly most of my poking around has had more to do with academic articles and resources, but during the times I’ve got to play around with the map I’ve found that the content that interested me most is that which came from my hometown, Lexington, Kentucky. My personal favorite is this picture taken inside the Kentucky Theater, an historic movie theater where I worked for a year when I was an undergraduate at the University of Kentucky. I actually spent many Saturday afternoons taking matinee tickets near the exact spot the band in the picture are standing.

Kentucky Theater, Bird of Paradise Promo, from University of Kentucky Special Collections.

What kind of challenges and opportunities do you see for LAMs in collaborative projects like Historypin?

Collaborative information environments offer an incredible platform for LAMs to share their digital content to the widest possible audience, and in an incredibly efficient fashion. The chance to further develop and refine information resources like Historypin and Europeana is an incredible opportunity for these institutions and one that I’m sure will become increasingly exploited as time goes on. The major challenge that I foresee for the development of collaborative knowledge domains is a lack of interoperability between different systems and their content.

You’ve really been our first “virtual” intern.  How has that experience been for you? Are there things you liked about it or things you would suggest for other people doing virtual internships?

It’s been a great experience that’s really given me the chance to hone my skills and apply many of the lessons I’ve learned as a grad student. What really made it worthwhile was that it allowed me the opportunity to explore a topic I’m passionate about in a way that really worked for me. I’d say that’s ultimately the key to a successful virtual internship, feeling sufficiently invested in the work your doing that you won’t need anyone else to motivate you to do it.

What’s next for you?

Well, now that I’ve “mastered” information science the next logical step is to begin what I hope will be a long and prosperous career as a UX designer and/or a linked data specialist. If anyone out there’s hiring you can find my information at

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.

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.