Farewell to Wilma

We are very sad to say good bye to our lovely intern Wilma who has been brilliant and a huge help with our pinning needs over the last few months. Thanks Wilma!

Name: Wilma Stefani

Role: Historypin Intern

Why did you want to intern at Historypin?
As an archaeologist and videographer, I am interested in exploring ways of communicating historical themes to the general public, and I discovered Historypin during my MA in Digital Humanities: I thought this project was brilliant in giving people the opportunity to share their pictures and stories online, and I was interested in how they were using social media to achieve that.

How did you come to hear of the project?
My supervisor at King’s College. Dr. Stuart Dunn, suggested me to apply for an internship at Historypin, as it could be interesting as a case study for my dissertation, which aims at analysing users’ comments and responses to historical themes shared in online platforms.

Describe an average day for you as a Historypin Intern
Beside general tasks such as choosing the Pin of the Day and helping in organising images and videos uploaded by users, most of the time I was following a particular project, Putting Art on the Map, a project which invites the public to solve mysteries about the collection of paintings held at the Imperial War Museum. I’ve been creating some of the mysteries and collating and publishing the answers provided by the participants to the live events organised by Rebekkah and Alex, as well as keeping at the same time track of the content posted through social media.
What do you do when you’re not at Historypin?
I love Art in all its forms…films, music, dance, figurative arts, and London offers so much in terms of cultural events. When I have a day off I like visiting museums and going to the theatre.

What’s been your best moment here?
I had the opportunity to take part in a live event at the Gordon Museum, where some medical professionals provided information about a selection of IWM paintings with a medical subject. I was amazed by the engagement of the participants, they analysed the paintings discussing in group and they came out with some great responses.

What is the oddest job you’ve been asked to do in the name of Historypin?
Nothing really odd, but I may have developed new deciphering skills, as while transcribing the comments written by participants to the live events, I was trying to understand the sometime illegible calligraphy of some of them…!

What excites you the most about Historypin?
I think that the opportunity to pin the photos on the Street View is an excellent idea, visually intriguing and fun to do.

Can you show us a photo you have personally pinned on Historypin?
Not a photo but a painting, ”Con: Camp’ – Genoa’ by Olive Mudie-Cooke, from the IWM collection. It was exciting to discover that this corner of Genoa has barely changed since 1919: and also to find so many paintings depicting Italian landscapes, including some near my hometown, in the north of Italy. Now I’ll have to go to see them at the museum!

"'Con: Camp' - Genoa' by Olive Mudie-Cooke, shared by IWM

What’s your favourite photo that has been pinned to the Historypin map and why?I chose this photo as Pin of The Day, and I love it because I think it shows so well the contrasts and liveness of London, in the 60s as well as nowadays.

Carnaby Street, 1960, shared by robertloch

What kind of content would you like to see more of on Historypin?
I would be very happy to see more videos uploaded, especially black and white footage from the old days.

Why do you think people should add their photos and stories to Historypin?
I think one can see the intersection between family and national stories as something we all have in common as human beings and citizens. Historypin offers an online space where anyone can participate, making them appreciate the history and culture of the place where they live.

What do you think the future of Historypin is?
It would be great to see the project developing also in new countries: I think Historypin has a great potential in connecting people from different generations and backgrounds, and can also be increasingly used in schools to engage students with their past.

Contact:  wilmastefani.wordpress.com


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:



Incorporating Historypin Into College Coursework

After seeing a tweet about how students at Slippery Rock University teamed up with Lawrence County Historical Society to add some amazing content to Historypin, we asked Dr. Aaron Cowan to tell us more. Dr. Cowan is a historian and assistant professor of History at this mid-sized state university in western Pennsylvania, where he teaches modern US, urban, and public history.

Why did you choose Historypin for this particular project?

The Historypin project was a part of my Introduction to Public History undergraduate course; the class partnered with the Lawrence County Historical Society (LCHS) in nearby New Castle, PA to select, research, and upload historical images to Historypin.  Students worked in groups of 3, with each group member performing specific roles

Historypin seemed like the ideal platform to allow undergraduates to understand the potential of digital history, and create a presentable public history project, without the technology “getting in the way” – within the confines of a 15-week academic term, they needed to focus on historical research, not learning the intricacies of Javascript or how to work with GoogleEarth databases.   I’m also fascinated by the potential for location-based digital history for increasing community engagement, so again – Historypin was a great fit!

A photo of my students "in action" - selecting images from the archives of the historical society back in March. We set up 24 computer stations one Saturday and worked all day in their digital images – it was a fun time!

What were some of the things that worked well?

The project was great for teaching students research skills; even some of our History majors found local history research to be a new challenge – rather different than writing a standard term paper where they could pull some books and journal articles from the library and synthesize those into an essay.  One advantage we had is that the city’s main newspaper has been digitized and available through NewspaperArchive; keyword searching is a wonderful thing!  Hard to believe students may never know the tedious experience of scrolling through microfilm…

Students took a good deal of ownership with the project; they were very enthusiastic about the fact that their research was going to be publicly presented & not simply submitted to the professor.  Reflecting on the project, one student commented, “For the first time in my four years as a history major, I felt like a historian and not just a history student.”

Another reflected, “The Historypin project was my favorite project I have ever completed in college because it showed me just how much work a public historian truly does. Public historians conduct a great deal of research, which is not always easy. Sometimes, they must do some digging to find that missing element that brings the whole project together…the experience also showed our group just how much collaboration needs to be done for the end result to be successful.”

What didn’t work well, or what would you change if you did this again?

In the future, I’ll allow more time for the students’ research – several simply underestimated the difficulty of the research, and hit roadblocks.  I’ll also spend more time educating them on resources for local history (city directories, insurance maps, etc.) and connecting them to the local history/genealogy staff at the city library.  On a related note, I would probably assign fewer images (initially, each student was assigned 5) to allow them more time.

Do you think this is a replicable model? It seems like there are so many small historical societies and the like that we could help get online…

I think it’s very replicable; my hope is to continue the project each year – either with this historical society or others in the area.  One advantage for this project is that the LCHS had already digitized their entire collection, so students didn’t have to sift through disorganized prints and then worry about proper scanning resolution, format, size, etc. – though of course a project involving those tasks would also teach valuable skills!

LCHS, like most of the county historical societies in our area, is understaffed and underfunded, even though their historical resources are amazing.  They need to create greater community investment and engagement, and to connect with younger audiences.  Hopefully the Historypin project provides a way for them to begin doing just that.

Clear guidelines and expectations are essential (and I’d be happy to share mine – anyone interested can email me at aaron.cowan@sru.edu).

What were some favorite/interesting pieces of content that came from the project?

The photo of a 1925 KKK picnic in the city’s park caused quite a stir among the students; New Castle – and western Pennsylvania generally – had a strong contingent of the 1920s Klan because of nativist fears of Catholic “new immigrants” drawn to jobs in the region’s steel and ancillary industries.  Another unusual find was a photo of a 1976 bank robbery in progress (pulled from bank security cameras).

On a lighter note, a 1912 photo circus parade of elephants marching through downtown was a fun addition.

Were there any surprise social outcomes of this? 

I had hoped social connections between community residents and students would be a more prominent part of the project, but it did not materialize.  I think in part this is attributable to students’ hesitancy to use methods like interviews to conduct their research, in favor of online or library research. It might have been strengthened if the project had directly involved the community in some sort of workshop or public forum.

I was proud of the fact that this project brought attention to some stories – in this case, particularly African-American history – that don’t always get a lot of attention in the “official” local histories.

An oral history segment recorded by one of the students.

What kinds of history mysteries keep you up at night/wake you up in the morning?

I don’t know if specific mysteries come to mind, but I’m constantly surprised by the layers and complexity of local history – that even in small towns where everyone assumes “nothing happened” there are stories of conflict, activism, and linkages to the broader current of national and world history.  I’m very much motivated by fragments of evidence that hint at holes – what historian Michel-Rolph Trouillot has called “silences” – in the popular narrative of local history; these kinds of stories can often be empowering for people, or provide a model for a path forward to a better future.  To me, that’s the real purpose of history.

Update: You can find more of Dr. Cowan’s thoughts on this class on his blog

Interview with Charlotte Goodhart, Historypin Intern

Name: Charlotte Goodhart

Role: Intern

Why did you want to intern at Historypin?
It manages to amalgamate some of my favourite things: the internet, old photos and social history.  I’m very nosey ,I love knowing about peoples lives, families, history etc so when I found out about Historypin it was a sort-of BINGO there goes my social life I shall forever be stuck inside browsing this website moment.

How did you come to hear of the project?
I initially heard about it through some friends but I really got into it when I was making a channel for the Jewish Community Centre for London about the Jewish East End (please do have a look here: 

Describe an average day for you as a Historypin Intern
It’s a bit of a mixture, the first thing I usually do is check the social media stuff and select a pin of the day..this can take a surprisingly long time! Then I might do a bit of research for an upcoming project or type up some notes for a previous project

What do you do when you’re not at Historypin?
Mostly watch Eastenders, but I’m also studying part time for an MA in Museum Studies at UCL and working in marketing.

What’s been your best moment here?
I’ve really enjoyed having control of the social media pages and interacting with people, we get some really sweet messages so it’s nice to read them and see how happy the website makes a lot of people. 

What is the oddest job you’ve been asked to do in the name of Historypin?
Hmm..some of the stories given by people who’ve been interviewed for the Remember How We Used To project are pretty hilarious, lots of old guys reminiscing about their childhood – they’re not odd but they are very funny

What excites you the most about Historypin?
I love that its completely open and accessible to anyone.  Plus I’m excited by the fact that it’s very easy to use and so anybody, with any story to tell can get onboard.

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

I love this photo, Emanuel Litvinoff is one of my favourite authors so a few years I wrote on his facebook page saying how much I enjoyed one of his books (Journey Through a Small Planet) – his son who maintained the page sent me a message to say thanks and also that he thought I was probably one of the only people under 50 who’d read it.  In 2011 Emanuel sadly passed away.  When I started the project for the JCC I messaged Aaron asking if he had any photos of his dad (who was born to a Jewish immigrant family and grew up around Spitalfields) and he sent me this straight away.  I just think it’s so cool: Emanuel is back in his home streets, just hanging out, looking so sharp in this beautiful suit.  I love the Asian guy walking past too.  To me this photo  perfectly sums up Brick Lane and the East End as a place.  Also, the composure, the light, the content, everything, it’s beautiful.

What’s your favourite photo that has been pinned to Historypin and why?
I can’t pick one but I am a bit obsessed with the Saint Michael’s College Archive channel – they have beautiful, interesting pictures uploaded weekly.

What kind of content would you like to see more of on Historypin?
I’d love for Historypin to expand outside of Western Europe/Australia/America.  For example I’d love to see more photos of Africa that aren’t of Royal Tours or of British soldiers in WW2.

Why do you think people should add their photos and stories to Historypin?
Because it’s an amazing resource for students and people who are into history.  It’s one thing to read about a certain place, a certain group or a certain era but to be able to see it and read about it by people who were involved is really powerful and important – share your history!

What do you think the future of Historypin is?
I would love to see Historypin become the standard for all museum/university/school/archive collections.  Obviously the dream is to see EVERYTHING digitised and readily available to everyone.  I guess it’s to see more of the same but on a larger scale.

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 sandrewcrawford.com.

University of Wisconsin Scrapbooks and More

In this edition of Better Know an Archivist (thanks Stephen Colbert), we talk to Vicki Tobias at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Archives.

Historypin: What do you do, exactly?

Vicki Tobias: Since 2010 I’ve served as the Images and Media Archivist for the University of Wisconsin-Madison Archives.

I’ve always loved history. I’m a fanatical genealogist and love nothing more that tackling a good history mystery, whether my own or someone else’s. I feel quite lucky/blessed to have landed a career that perfectly marries my love of history and enthusiasm for sharing it!

How and when did you come across Historypin and what made you decide it was worth pursuing for UW and your work?

A friend and colleague who works for the Wisconsin Historical Society initially introduced me to Historypin – maybe two years ago? I was immediately impressed with the organization’s mission statement which talked about bringing together generations through shared history. This idea is at the core of our work in the UW Archives. Historypin is a great tool for showing change over time and is the type of tool/project that inspires a user to further explore their own place in history. Any tool that prompts a user to ask “I wonder what was here 100 years ago?” or “I wonder what’s there now?” is a success in my book.

In the UW Archives, we host a bevy of volunteer, intern, practicum and paid student staff. They all want to work on projects that include a “technology element.” Building a collection in Historypin from start to finish (e.g. scanning, researching metadata, uploading, outreach, etc.) provides our students an opportunity to apply technology skills in an archives environment and results in a great end-product they can then link to on a resume or application. We’ve had great success with students creating Collections in Historypin.

You’ve got a great variety of photos across campus, and we’ve noticed these amazing scrapbook collections you’ve been sharing lately. What can you tell us about the scrapbooks, and do you have a strategy in sharing these?

Why, thank you! We’ve had great fun selecting content to add to our Historypin collection. I wanted our campus history collection (on Historypin) to include more than a bunch of photos of historic buildings. I thought it would be interesting to try to tell a student’s story using Historypin and items from historic student scrapbooks. The UW Archives has a great (and growing) collection of scrapbooks dating from the late 1880s through the 1960s. They include all sorts of memorabilia, photos, clippings and other “bits and pieces” that wonderfully illuminate the college student experience. Selecting and pinning location-based items provides a different and more nuanced interpretation of each scrapbook – allowing a user to better understand the places and spaces inhabited by a student during a particular period in our campus and town history. For example, an invitation to a dance held at the Stock Pavilion on campus (still in existence), a monthly bill for items purchased from a “sweet shop” on Capitol Square (no longer there), a photo taken during summer vacation “up north” in Wisconsin. When viewed on a Historypin map, these items prompt a user to ponder questions of mobility and transportation (How did one traverse the distance from campus to the aforementioned sweet shop – walking? trolley car? Were there sidewalks? Horses?), use of space on campus (Dances held in the Stock Pavillion? Really?) and other questions that might not be apparent when simply flipping through a scrapbook. Seeing items on a map presents an entirely different view of the story being told by the scrapbook creator.

What excites you most about Historypin, and how do you envision it being utilized at UW and other college campuses?

I love the idea of user-generated content. It would be fabulous if other campus units with an interest in building community around shared campus history could collaboratively build collections in Historypin. Likewise, I think Historypin might be an interesting tool for uniting alumni to build collections that illuminate their shared experiences.

What is your favourite piece of content that you have pinned?

Last year, we built a new collection – Lawrence Monthey: 1959 Tour of the Soviet Union which documents this UW faculty person’s trip to that region. The slides are beautiful (and in color!) and include images of many iconic locations in the former Soviet Union. I love the following photo of St. Basil’s Cathedral (Sept. 1959) and the juxtaposition of the historic and current street views.

It’s one of my favorite UW Archives collections and a perfect fit for Historypin.

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.

Contact:  kerri.young@wearewhatwedo.org

Historypin on the Radio, plus how-to’s in Australian!

We’ve been getting lots of love in Australia lately! Most recently, one of our partners, Museum Victoria, did a radio interview about their contributions to Historypin.

The fabulous Ely Wallis alerted us to it with a Tweet.  Thanks Ely and Gerard Callinan at the ABC! You can have a listen to it here: gc-history-pin-23-7.

And if that wasn’t enough, we heard from our friends over at the Bright Ideas Blog, which is a fantastic resource from the School Library Association of Victoria and the State Library of Victoria.  It turns out they’ve used Storify to create an embeddable resource guide on how to get started pinning on Historypin, full of all sorts of video tips on using our site!  Thanks for creating such a great resource–you guys are the best!  We’ve embedded the videos below–very clever!

Interview with Steve Clifford, Historypinner

Name: Steve Clifford

Location: Victoria, BC, Canada

How did you hear about Historypin?
I heard about it through Twitter.  One of the family history magazines I follow mentioned Historypin and I was immediately hooked.

How have you been involved with Historypin?
I’ve been pinning since early August 2011 and have encouraged other local historians and public institutions to get on board.  Although my initial interest was focused on Victoria I soon began pinning photos from across Canada and around the UK.  Some of these images have family connections while others are just interesting old photos I’ve picked up over the years. Hopefully someone in Moose Jaw or Manchester will see my contribution and be inspired to add a story or begin pinning their own  content.

What do you do when you are not pinning?
When I’m not pinning I maintain a blog dedicated to vintage ephemera and photographs.  I enjoy researching and uncovering the stories behind these discarded bits of paper and forgotten family photos.  I also spend quite a bit of time piecing together my own family history and this led to an interest in the First World War, specifically first-hand accounts of soldier’s experiences on the Western Front.

To earn “pin” money I work in IT although I also spent quite a few years in the adventure travel industry.  I’ve had itchy feet for as long as I can remember and in 2010 I fulfilled a dream by walking from Land’s End to John O’Groats … and the really crazy thing is I want to do it again!

What excites you most about Historypin?
I’ve always dreamed of owning a time machine that would allow me to explore my favourite streets and neighbourhoods a century ago.  I’ve also been looking for a way to share the photos I’ve collected with others who have similar interests.  So when I landed on Historypin I felt immediately at home.  I suppose what excites me the most is the opportunity to share, discuss and build content that can, in theory at least, benefit generations to come.

What is your favourite piece of content that you have pinned?
I have two favourites, one of my hometown, Digging out at Fort and Douglas in 1916, and the other of an image I never get tired of looking at, Grandborough Brook, Winslow, Bucks:

(Click the images to read the story about them and see them on Street View)

Digging out at Fort and Douglas


What is your favourite piece of content that you have found on Historypin?
I haven’t made it through all 110,000 photos yet but I think this is wonderful image:

The Traveller's Rest

If you could have any person or organisation start pinning, who would it be?
I would love to see the British Columbia Archives begin to pin.  They have an amazing collection of photographs, many of which are digitized, but unfortunately their interface is painfully dated.  I suspect funding is an issue but if they used Historypin they could focus their resources on sharing content with British Columbians and beyond.

I’d also like to encourage seniors to pin their photos and their stories before it’s too late.  I’ve rummaged through hundreds, if not thousands, of wonderful old photos that have nothing written on them.  Unfortunately these photos, treasured memories for one generation, become clutter to another once the personal connections are lost.

If you could go back to any place and time, where and when would you go?
I’m fascinated by the Victorian and Edwardian eras and especially the development of Victoria (BC) and London (UK) during these periods.  However if I could only use my time machine once I would program it to take me back to the Wirral peninsula in the mid-1920’s.  That’s the last known whereabouts of my great-grandfather Herbert Clifford and his disappearance is a mystery I’ve spent the last 15 years trying to solve.  I would dearly love to buy him a pint and have him tell me his story.

What would you like to see on Historypin in the future?
A growing and active community of pinners.  There’s a lot of fantastic content on Historypin and it will really take off when the that community begins interacting with each other on a regular basis.  It’s these conversations that I’m most looking forward to.
I’d also like to be able to pin other types of content, such as letters or pictures of ephemera.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see a photograph of a soldier boarding a train for the front and then be able to read the letters he wrote to his family back home? Or to look at a vintage automobile driving down the street and then view a copy of the original brochure?

Historypin Channel


Interview with Mike Strange, Historypinner

Name:  Mike Strange

Location:  Biggleswade, Bedfordshire

Historypin Channels:

Biggleswade History Society
Your Total Event

How have you been involved with Historypin?
By making available for all a number of the images of Biggleswade in the custodianship of the Biggleswade History Society.  In order to make them interesting and relevant I have always included the date and, where time permits, a story to go with them.  I have also added a few of my own images of a few places and events that interest me and hopefully others.

How did you hear about the project?
Approached by Ella Wiggans from Historypin asking if I would like to take part way before it went live.

What do you do when you are not pinning?
Genealogical and local history research, web site development, digital photography and computer processing, playing blues guitar (for me only!), DIY (plenty of that to do so no offers of help I am afraid!), seeing the occasional film, hardly any TV, model-making, design and development of electronic projects …. you see I am retired!!!

Why did you decide to share Biggleswade History Society’s collection on Historypin?
It is inappropriate for 6,500 images to all be locked away in an archive where few people ever get to see them; Historypin has proved to be an ideal way of sharing and hopefully to get something back from people who view them.

What excites you the most about Historypin?
It is dynamic, you can put in just as much as you want, it is an opportunity for people to share their stories associated with the images and it is boundless – anyone in the world can share their images from any country and in their context of their map.

What is your favourite piece of content that you have pinned?

From the History Society it is this collection of Berkeley Cars:









From my personal pins, this Coronation street party on my road in 1953:

What is your favourite piece of content that you have found on Historypin?

An image of my wife’s uncle aged between 4 and 7 (so the date on the image is wrong!) looking out of the window of the George Hotel, East Dereham, that her grandparents William Charles and Laura Rogers kept.

The surprise was seeing the image we know well that had been pinned by someone else!

Why do you think other people should add their photos, videos & audio clips and stories to Historypin?
Because we all have something that is relevant to other people and they may never have the opportunity of seeing it any other way.

If you could have any person or organization start pinning, who would it be?
ALL local history societies who have not yet joined in!

If you could go back to any place and time, where and when would you go?
Hopefully this is not a question of a one-way ticket!!  Roman Britain because they forgot to leave very little information about their stay here – I want to know their stories!

What would you like to see on Historypin in the future?

  • Dynamic feedback of comments from viewers.
  • Be able to contact Pinners who do not leave a web site or email address.
  • More concentration on getting folk to use their photos to tell the stories (the Essex school project was brilliant).

History Society: