Working With Memory and Place in Senior Care Homes

Hearing stories around photos brought in by a resident at Rhoda Goldman Plaza, an assisted living facility in San Francisco, CA.

Recently, the Historypin team in San Francisco, and a memory care home in West Lafayette, Indiana, have run/will run pilots on using Historypin with seniors. Here is a short breakdown:

  • Historypin in SF: As part of Historypin’s Bay Area Jewish project Sourdough & Rye, the San Francisco team helped carry out a community pilot at Rhoda Goldman Plaza, a senior care home in the city. Over two two-week rounds, we worked with a handful of seniors to help them think about their lives in terms of place, while behind-the-scenes thinking about the materials we would need to get these memories from the room to Historypin. Some important places we tried to highlight were childhood homes, a first school, where a resident was married, first job, etc.
  • Using Historypin in an Indiana care home: At the end of September 2015, the Westminster Village care home, in West Lafayette, Indiana, will team up with the West Lafayette Public Library to help the care home residents contribute photos focused on Tippecanoe County (encompassing the WL area) or wherever they consider “home” prior to moving to Westminster. The WLPL will use these contributions as the basis for a “Westminster Collection” on Historypin, and the pilot will be treated as a gateway activity; residents who are interested in participating more fully with their personal history will receive assistance on establishing a separate Historypin Tour.

Some resources so far on procedure:

RG Plaza:

  • Before our first iteration, we came up with a format that includes a binder or folder with a number of worksheets. This included a consent form and a brief bio form. There were also sheets that represent info from a pin on Historypin, where we could record a resident’s memories of particular places. During this first iteration, we recruited volunteers to help us record info in small groups. Not wanting to solely rely on the internet at RGP, most of this session was done mainly offline.

Rhoda Goldman session release form | Rhoda Goldman story collecting sheet

  • After this first iteration, we came up with a format that includes a booklet that correspond to the Tour functionality on Historypin: a cover sheet which has a map and place for a participant photo, and pages which represent the info from a pin, including a map and place for an address, a place to clip a photo, date and other details. Along with this booklet we included a consent form.
August 28th, 2015: Here I am with Maxine Greenspan, a resident of Rhoda Goldman and subject of our first completed Tour (at the link below.)

August 28th, 2015: Here I am with Maxine Greenspan, a resident of Rhoda Goldman and subject of our first completed Tour (at the link below.)

  • For the second iteration, we did an introductory presentation to residents, showing them an example of a completed Tour (and pins). We really underlined this time that we’re trying to “put life stories on the map,” which is about individuals on their own journey, but also about the communities they’ve been a part of in their life. Then we set up 90-minute slots to gather content and stories (had 2-3 people on our team working with individuals), during which we used a recorder and a laptop to explore places as residents remembered them. The idea was to think through the booklet we made, and try to pull out around 5 important places that could encompass “Mapping the Story of My Life.” We are continuing to put together Historypin Tours based on these second round of interviews, many of which built upon resident interviews during the first round.

Westminster: Though still in the process of prep, the overall plan is as follows:

  • Resident Collection sheets will be distributed at the close of the introductory presentation, and also direct to resident mailboxes. The sheets will include general information about the photo(s) residents want to contribute, and a waiver for public use.
  • Residents will be asked to bring their completed collection sheet with their photos to scanning workshop dates, where their information sheet with a signature and photo will be scanned (separately) and saved. During each workshop, the WLPL will provide one scanning station and WV will provide a second. WLPL will upload all scanned photos and content to Historypin.
  • After the initial scan workshop WLPL will, based on interest, continue additional scanning workshops in conjunction with normal bi-weekly WLPL visits to Westminster.
  • After the “Westminster Collection” is complete, WV will coordinate a program for residents to see the finished collection on Historypin.


All of the above briefly summarizes the thinking and set-up behind starting community memory pilots two senior care homes. Note that these are both still underway, but please field any questions you have here!

Life Story Challenge Launches!

Life Story Challenge HistorypinWho do you know who is amazing? Someone interesting, kind, worthwhile, brave, crazy, amazing, selfless, or generous and who is continuing living life to the full – an “Active Ager”?

The Life Story Challenge is now open for entries from anyone in Europe!

Simply create a Life Story about someone you know using photos and stories you’ve collected and tell the story of their life and what they are doing now.

The best story will win a cash prize and a trip to Brussels. But get in quick if you want a chance to win – the closing date is 16th September 2012.

The Life Story Challenge has been created by Historypin and the European Year for Active Ageing to celebrate the Year of Active Ageing and Intergenerational Solidarity.

Find our more and get started creating your Life Story here.

Amazing stories discovered by QMPS students in Labrador, Canada

Last week students from the Queen of Peace Middle School in Labrador, were awarded ‘pinners of the week’ for their fantastic Historypin project that Grade 6 Classes have been doing this Semester. Their project explored the students’ family history and the social history of Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador in Canada.

The Grade 6 classes at QPMS were very excited to become the first students in Labrador to pin their communities’ photos and stories to the Historypin creating an amazing Channel. Technology Itinerant Teacher, Susan Lamond, was inspired to run a Historypin project after hearing about Nelson Rural School’s Historypin project at the 21st Century Learning Conference.  She  immediately became hooked and brought the idea back to classes in Labrador.

The grade 6 students and teachers were eager to get started collecting pictures, and after getting tips from an archivist from Them Days magazine on interviewing skills and how to get the “story behind the photo,” they started conducting interviews. Students then learned how to scan and edit their photos before pinning them, and got more great ideas when they Skyped students  and staff from Nelson Rural School in Miramichi, who did a great Historypin project earlier in the year.  By the end of the QPMS project students had pinned 90 photos and stories!

We were delighted that the students were particularly enthusiastic about interviewing older family members about their personal stories. Abigail ‘liked being able to preserve old stories and learning about all of our family history’ and Timothy thought it was great that the stories he heard would ‘spark a new story that sometimes wasn’t related to the photo but was interesting to hear.’ He also said the seeing the photos meant it ‘was easy to imagine what actually had taken place’ and pinned a fantastic story about his Great Aunt Enid coming from Scotland to teach a primary class with no formal training in Makkovik, Labrador, meeting her husband Charlie, and proudly becoming a Canadian Citizen in 1996.

The project finished with a Skype session with Natasha and Freddie from Historypin and all the students got a special certificate celebrating their work. The project has been a huge success, and the school is going to do it with more classes next year.

This fantastic project inspired everyone involed, and Victoria, a grade 6 student, summed up the feelings of the class saying, ‘I think that learning about all the things about your family is really great! I liked hearing all the stories about the pictures.’


Sharing our history with Radio 4

On Tuesday the Historypin team ran a session with Magic Me where older residents of Tower Hamlets and young interns and volunteers got together to share their photos and stories and add them to  We were delighted to have Radio 4 along to share the fascinating stories and a great time was had by all.

There were some fantastic photos and memories shared, including one of a Haberdashers on Columbia Road in 1920 where Gloria’s Aunt Milly worked as an assistant. And Vince shared his memories of national service when he was working at  Bungay Airfiield disposing of ammunition from World War Two.









To see more of the photos and stories, have a look at Magic Me’s profile. And if you’re curious to hear more, the session was recorded for The World Tonight and will be broadcast tonight on Radio Four at 10pm. You can hear the story through the BBC iPlayer–just skip to minute 34.

Thanks to everyone involved and to the Sundial Centre for hosting us and for all their support within the community.

Magic moments with Magic Me

This month, Historypin was lucky enough to work with Magic Me, on a fantastic inter-generational project. Young volunteers and older residents of Tower Hamlets came together to  share photos, stories and memories in this three day workshop programme.

Two participants sharing memories around a photo

Everyone had a fantastic time learning about the history of the local area and about the fascinating personal histories that the group shared.   We are really excited that so many of the group want to continue to share their history on Historypin and become Historypin champions.

Have a look at some of the amazing photos and stories that were pinned onto Historypin during the session.

We are really looking forward to running more Historypin projects with Magic Me.  I can’t remember the last time I laughed so much and found out as many fascinating stories as we did during this project.

Historypin Coffee Morning, Whitley Wood

Residents of Whitley Wood outside the community centre

We are delighted to see that Historypin coffee mornings are becoming a regular feature in Reading’s community spaces. Here are some of Whitley’s residents outside the Whitley Wood Community Centre after their monthly get together to chat about photos, stories and their area.

This week Diane brought along a photo of a relative who had been in the police force but she didn’t know when or where the photo was taken (see the photo here).  Using great detective skills, Jenny did some research and found out from the insignia on his helmet that he had worked in Holborn, solving the mystery for Diane.  We are really impressed that people in Reading are not only sharing stories about their heritage but helping each other find out more about their family histories.

This is all part of our local project ‘Pinning Reading’s History’.  If you live in Reading or have photos or stories of Reading, keep an eye on the Historypin Community pages for ways to get involved.

Billericay School hosts a Historypin day

It’s fantastic to see all the amazing things that Billericay school have been doing with Historypin.  Have a look at this lovely video they made of the Historypin day that students ran at the school, where they invited local people to join them to share photos and memories and to pin them onto the site.

We are so impressed with the boys who were involved in this – not only did they host the day, they planned and organized it too.    They got some great stories and images which they have pinned to the site.  If you want to see them, take a look at the Billericay Profile on Historypin

A huge thank you to Billericay students and to  Assitant Headteacher Charlotte Berry who have embraced Historypin and encouraged generations to come together and share their history.

Natasha, Historypin Community Manager