Local libraries commemorate the First World War with their communities

We’re honoured to be hosting The Digital War Memorial on Historypin, an initiative to bring together libraries, communities and artists to create unique artistic responses to the First World War.

Ten libraries around the country have been working with members of their communities to explore the rich and diverse First World War historical materials in their collections, including photographs, letters and newspaper articles. Community groups then worked with local artists using poetry, dance, music, writing and visual arts to reflect on the impact of the First World War and how it resonates a century later.

All the historical materials, contemporary media and creative films and recordings made have been added to the Digital War Memorial on Historypin where they can be explored and further added to.

Face to face connections and live performances were foundational pillars of these projects, offering powerful ways for people to connect with their libraries and each other. But the complementary use of digital technologies offered innovative ways for the collaborations to be captured and curated, creating additional ways for people to participate and experience the projects.

In The Digital Scrapbook Leeds Library digitised an archival gem, a scrapbook created by a matron at Gledhow Hall, a country home transformed into a hospital during the war. The scrapbook is a treasure trove of photos, clippings, examples of craftwork made by the recovering soldiers. Through a series of workshops they opened this scrapbook to local writers and craft groups who created new material inspired by the Matron’s collection.

Students, song writers, musicians and choirs came together in Lest We Forget writing and performing poetry and songs inspired by research into local First World War stories and using digital tools such as SoundCloud to collaborate on the final audio recordings.

Over in Lancashire where students were exploring the theme of conscientious objectors, one of the final pieces was a powerful recreation of a tribunal hearing, based on the original transcript.

Visit the Digital War Memorial to explore these projects and all the others around the country.

The Digital War Memorial is run by the Society of Chief Librarians, with support from the British Library and funding from the National Lottery supported Grants for the arts: Libraries fun through Arts Council England.  Read more about the project here.


This Used to be Fields: Help tell the history of the Becontree Estate

Built in the 1920s to house the growing population of East London and soldiers returning from the First World War, the Becontree Estate was the largest housing estate in Europe. The creation of the Estate transformed the countryside east of London from fields into homes for 100,000 people.

We’re inviting everyone who has lived, worked or passed through Becontree to share their photos and memories to create a shared history of the Estate. Explore what’s been added so far.

Have you got photos or stories about Becontree? Add them here!

Do you live in Becontree? Come along with your photos and memories to have them digitised and added to the archive.

Valence House Visitor Centre, Becontree Avenue
Tuesday 19 August 2 – 6pm
Tuesday 26 August 2 – 4pm
Tuesday 16 September 5 – 6pm

Kingsley Hall, Parsloes Avenue, Dagenham
Wednesday 13 August 6.30 – 8pm
Thursday 14 August 10.30 –11.30am

Dagenham Trades Hall, Charlotte Rd, Dagenham
Wednesday 13 August 2 – 4pm

A new mural at Valence House

The history, stories and photographs of Becontree will inspire a new mural at Valence House painted by artist Chad McCail.

Come and meet Chad

Drop in on Chad at his artist studio at Valence House to share your stories of the local area, show him your photos and chat about the mural.

Tuesday 12, Wednesday 13, Thursday 14 and Friday 15 August 12.30- 1.30pm
Saturday 16 August 10am – 4pm
Saturday 23 August 10am – 4pm

Come and see the mural being painted

Chad will be painting the mural with the help of local volunteers. Come along to see them in action, have a chat about the project and enjoy Valence House Museum & Archives.

Saturday 13th September 12 – 4pm
Saturday 20th September 12 – 4pm

Short-term vacancy: Supporting First World War history projects

Our friends at the Heritage Lottery Fund are looking for an enthusiastic and committed individual to join their team to help the First World War projects they fund share their activities on Historypin.

Job title: HLF Support Officer for the First World War Centenary hub 
Contract: Fixed term full time for 10 weeks. (40 hours per week including 1 hour for lunch)
Salary: £25k per annum
Start date: End of July 2014
Location: London SW1, with possible travel around the UK.
Closing date for applications: 
Tuesday 1 July 2014

This is an exciting opportunity to work with the Heritage Lottery Fund and a wide range of local First World War history projects across the UK. The role demands enthusiasm, flexibility, good interpersonal skills and commitment.

For more details about the role and how to apply, please see https://db.tt/tMOeetxv

Remembering the Baa-Baas Games

Fans at the Barbarians Game, Dec 1988 (Image courtesy of Leicester Mercury at the University of Leicester)

Are you a Tigers fan with memories, photos, films and memorabilia of the annual Barbarians game? Did you go to the game every year with your family? Or work at Welford Road when it was played?

We need your help!

We are creating a digital time capsule of the Tigers vs Barbarians games and want to gather as many recollections and materials as possible. Come along to our workshops, where you can:

  • Explore the history of the Baa Baas game with other Tigers fans

  • See historical photos from the Leicester Mercury archive and help enrich them with stories and information

  • Bring your photos, films and memorabilia to be recorded, digitised and added to the time capsule

We are running three casual drop-in workshops – pop into whichever one you can make for however long you can stay.

Date: Tuesday 18th March 2014

Times:  12pm – 2pm; 4pm – 6pm; 6.30pm – 8.30pm

Location: Soft Touch Arts Centre, 50 New Walk, Leicester LE1 6TF

Refreshments will be provided.

If you have your own personal collection of photos, films or memorabilia about the Baa Baas, do bring it along to share.

If you have any queries, please email historypin@wearewhatwedo.org.

The pilot project has been delivered through the Collaborative Arts Triple Helix Project, a research project by the University of Birmingham in partnership with University of Leicester. The Collaborative Arts Triple Helix Project has been funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council as pat of their Creative Economy Knowledge Exchange programme.

Queens: Neighborhood Stories

Celebrations Marking the Opening of the Bayside Branch of the QBPL on May 15, 1935. (Image from Queens Library)

We’re excited to launch our latest project, Queens: Neighborhood Stories, in partnership with Queens Library and with support from Metropolitan New York Library Council.  

Queens, NYC is the most diverse county in the U.S., with many different cultures and many different neighborhoods. We want to capture this rich tapestry and are inviting everyone in Queens to share photos, video clips, audio recordings, stories and memories to tell the unique histories of their neighborhoods.

Queens Library will be supporting libraries and local organizations to run community activities in their own neighborhoods, from scanning family photos to solving photo mysteries. Kicking off our community activities we have:

How can you get involved?

Grace DeSagun and Dacia Metes from Queens Library work with Broad Channel resident Pat Rosendale to identify the people and places in the historic photos she brought to a Community History Night held at the Queens Library at Broad Channel (Image from Queens Library)

Share material from your collections
If you’ve got personal or institutional collections, visit www.historypin.com/neighborhoodstories to add photos, videos, audio clips and stories to the map.

Gather photos and stories from your community – Run a session with your community to collect local photos and stories to add to the communal archive. Download our free resource pack which has ideas to get started with and materials to use.

Solve photo mysteries with your community – Run a session with your community to help identify the places, people and events depicted in photographs that lack contextual information. Download our free resource pack which has ideas to get started with and materials to use.

Explore the project
Lots of material has been shared already, so visit www.historypin.com/neighborhoodstories to dive in and add your stories and memories to what’s been pinned.

If you are interested in running activities in your neighborhood and would like more information, email Natalie Milbrodt (Director Queens Memory Project, Queens Library) on Natalie.Milbrodt@queenslibrary.org

#ArtMap in Edinburgh

Yesterday #ArtMap hit the road and went to Edinburgh where the Scottish National Portrait Gallery hosted us for a live crowdsourcing event. We had a packed house in the beautiful Farmer Education Suite.

After a whirlwind of introductions from all the participants –  including our brilliant 30 strong team of local history enthusiasts, authors, curators and students – we had a brilliant introduction to the Imperial War Museums’ vast First World War art collection by Dr Alice Strickland. She highlighted some of the fantastic images that we had bought with us and some that the SNPG had kindly digitised especially for the event.

We split into groups of three and got cracking at solving some of the mysteries, each team armed with a computer, A3 print outs of the artworks, pens, pencils, post-it notes and of course our enthusiasm.

Flotta and Weddel Sound by John Lavery

Within seconds one team had produced a specific location for John Lavery’s peaceful, but isolated work Flotta and Weddel Sound identifying it as just off Scapa Flow. They also managed to isolate the events depicted as taking place just after the HMS Vanguard went down around the time of the Battle of Jutland.

The National Gallery of Scotland also had some fantastic results from the collections of First World War images they had digitised especially for this event.  This photograph of Red Cross Hospital staff had no information on it at all apart from a tantalising scribble on the back of it. After some brilliant digging one team managed to work out that this was a factory that was requisitioned as a hospital during the war and located it to the former headquarters of NBL in Springburn, Glasgow.

We’ll be adding all the information, data, comments and questions collected to the artworks on Putting Art on the Map where you can continue the conversation and help add more details to these brilliant artworks. It was an amazing event and we can’t wait to find out more in our upcoming events.

If you’re interested in postal history in the First World War, come along to our event at the British Postal Museum and Archive on the 10th February. For the plane enthusiasts, join us at Imperial War Museum Duxford on the 22 February we’ll be digging into works on aviation.

In the meantime, don’t forget to explore Putting Art on the Map where you can solve mysteries and curate your own tours and collections with IWM’s amazing artworks and follow the conversation through IWM’s daily Tweets, Facebook and Google+ posts.

For the latest news and events, keep an eye on our blog.

Celebrating the History and Heritage of Yarra Ranges’ Main Streets

This is a guest post by Megan Sheehy, Curator of Public Programs for the Yarra Ranges Regional Museum, who we’ve partnered with to create the Changing Places project. We’re looking forward to seeing their map come to life over the course of this exhibit, and you can visit the project to contribute your own photos and memories today.

Scott & Allen General Merchants, Yarra Glen, c1910 (Photograph courtesy of Yarra Glen & District Historical Society)

The Changing Places project explores how the main streets and shopping precincts of Yarra Ranges have changed over the past 150 years. From the first general stores in tiny townships, to the development of large scale, drive-in shopping malls.

Situated to the north-east of Melbourne, Australia, Yarra Ranges is a local government area covering almost 2500 square kilometres. The region has over 55 distinct townships and no central service district.

In 2013 Yarra Ranges Regional Museum began researching how and why the main streets and shopping precincts of Yarra Ranges have changed, and what they may look like in the future. In addition to an exhibition and education resource, this online component of the Changing Places project is designed to enable the community to continue to gather and share photographs and stories related to the unique shops and main streets of this region.

The Changing Places: The Evolution of Yarra Ranges’ Main Streets exhibition was developed through an outreach project known as the Pop-Up Museum: Main Street Project. Fourteen townships across the region were visited from June to September 2013 to gather artefacts and stories from the community for consideration for the exhibition. The stories presented show the rapid growth and changes to Yarra Ranges’ main streets from the gold rush era, to the arrival of the railway and the expansion of tourism.

Yarra Ranges Mayor Jim Child said the exhibition had a strong community voice and demonstrated our unique cultural identity.

“Changing Places brings together 150 years of local stories, photographs and objects to explore our region’s history and heritage,” Cr Child said.

“Shop owners, residents and history groups have all contributed their narratives and memories helping shape this magnificent exhibition.”

Changing Places: The Evolution of Yarra Ranges Main Streets will show at Yarra Ranges Regional Museum, 35-37 Castella St, Lilydale. The exhibition opens on Saturday 9 November 2013 and runs to Sunday 2 March 2014.

Signage for Woolworths development in Seville, October 2013 (Photographer: Megan Sheehy)

Pinning at the Jewish East End Extravaganza

From pinathons to storytelling sessions, we love hearing about all the different ways that people around the world are using Historypin with their communities. So this week we’re excited to have a guest post from Charlotte Goodhart (@CharGoodhart) who was part of the team from the Jewish Community Centre running a Historypin workshop at the ‘Jewish East End Extravaganza’ last month. If you too have been using Historypin in interesting ways, let us know!


On the 27th January, the Jewish Community Centre for London held the ‘Jewish East End

Extravaganza’, at Rich Mix in Bethnal Green.  The event consisted of a variety of different activities including workshops about the traditional trades of the East End, a food stand hosted by Kosher Roast and walking tours of the area led by Rachel Kolsky.

Myself and Alex Eisenberg work with the Jewish Community Centre for London and as part of the day we used Historypin to create a digital map of the Jewish East End.  Prior the event, we created our own Historypin Channel and put out a call for photographs and memories of area from people who had lived there or had other family ties to the area.

We hit gold when we were able to access the archives at The Jewish Museum, which contains thousands of fantastic images.  Luckily for us, the museum has been very strict about keeping records of donated images, so we were able to access a wealth of information about what we were looking at.

We also met with some people, who are still living in east London and made a trip to Stepney Jewish Day Centre, where staff pulled out a treasure trove, in the form of a ‘memories box’ that contained hundreds of photos and albums from the last century. These included photos of the Queen Mother in Stepney when she visited the Synagogue in 1956! We also spoke with visitors to the centre about their experiences of the East End, many of whom are in their 80s and 90s and had many stories to share.

On the day itself, we weren’t sure what to expect! We set up a ‘mapping hub’ (pictured below) on the stage at Rich Mix, with a couple of computers, a scanner and a projector showing some photos we had already collected.

Despite some glitches  (a very late tech man and a very temperamental scanner) the day was a great success and both Alex and myself got to meet some fascinating characters, including a man whose father was a famous East End ballroom dancer that is rumoured to have impressed Fred Astaire! Here he is with his dance partner looking very dapper:

The marketing team at the JCC had made public requests for more images and we were pleasantly surprised by the amount of response we received – I am still in the process of uploading the images shared with us!

Everyone was keen to see what we were doing and find out about any plans for the future. There was a lot of positive response from visitors who were enthusiastic about the importance of preserving the history of the Jewish East End, especially as there is now only a very small and elderly community there, the majority of the community having moved away in the decades following the Second World War.

Historypin is the perfect space for the preservation of this history, due to its simplicity in use and its mass availability.  We hope to extend the project, first across London and perhaps later in other parts of the UK.  Many people who attended were disappointed that the specification was just for photos of the East, as their parents and grandparents had lived around Soho and Bloomsbury before the Second World War.  Equally, whilst London was the starting point for so many Jewish migrants, it wasn’t the only place; many went to Liverpool, Glasgow Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle and even Bristol – this really shows the potential for a long term, more inclusive project.

The project is ongoing and if you would like to be involved or you have some images you would like added, please do email us at jcc.communitymap@gmail.com.

Charlotte Goodhart

Neighborhood Stories: Get your community involved

Want to get your organisation or community involved with Neighborhood Stories, but not sure where to start? Here are some ideas and tips to get you started:

1. Running Community Events: Examples and ideas

2. A Guide to Using Historypin

3. Getting started with Historypin for Libraries, Archives and Museums

If you’re interested in running an event with your local community we want to hear about it! Get in touch with Natalie Milbrodt (Director Queens Memory Project, Queens Library) at Natalie.Milbrodt@queenslibrary.org who will be able to support with the planning, running and publicity of your event.

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.’