Pin your Olympic Memories!

Athletics at the 1st Olympiad in 1896

The Games are about to begin and we’ve launched our Olympic Memory Collection to collect the amazing photos, videos and stories from previous Olympiads and from this year’s extravaganza in London.

Browse the map to explore photos from every Olympics since the first in one way back in 1896. Some highlights include the 10 Mile Walk in 1908 (don’t forget your top hat if you’re an official), Jesse Owens at the 1936 Berlin Games and Usain Bolt winning gold at the 2008 Olympics.

Over the decades there have been some very amusing outfits (from athletes and fans!) and some unusual events. Have a flick through our Weird and Wonderful Collection to see some of our faves.

Been watching the Olympic flame travel around the UK? Take a Tour and follow the 1948 Torch Relay which only visited a dozen places in before the Austerity Games.

Slide through our timeline for a potted history of the Olympic Games featuring some little known facts and fun photos.

Are you a teacher or youth worker looking for activities? Download our free activities pack which includes a game, lesson plans and tipsheets for gathering photos.

Have you got photos and memories of previous Olympics? A snap of the Torch passing through your area? Add them to our Collection.

And if you’re lucky enough to be going to this years sporting extravaganza, don’t forget to add your images, videos and stories!

The Olympic Torch returns to Reading

At 6.14pm today, the Olympic Torch will arrive in Reading. This will be the second time the famous flame has passed through as the town was also a stop during the 1948 Torch Relay. This marks Reading out as one of the very few places in the UK to host the Torch twice – whilst the 2012 route sees the Torch carried all around the British Isles, in 1948 the flame only went to 15 places, all of which were in southern England.

Cameras were not widely owned when the Olympic torch last visited Reading, and images of the Torch in Reading in 1948 are very rare. Reading Museum has a few of these precious images and have pinned them, including this one taken by a member of the public and lent to the museum by a private collector. It shows Cemetery Junction when hundreds of people turned out at Cemetery Junction to see the torch pass from K.R. Martin to W.O. Nichols.

K.R. Martin handing the Olympic Torch to W.O. Nichols

Did you see the 1948 Torch Relay? Have you seen the Torch in other decades or countries?

Add your photos and memories to Historypin to build up a picture of past Torch moments and stories.

Nick 'Wally' Nichols carrying the Torch through Reading.

In 1948 the torchbearers were young athletes chosen from the Reading Athletics Club for their appearance and stamina. This time the torchbearers of Reading will represent a cross section of the community and includes individuals that have raised substantial amounts for charities. With the youngest torchbearer aged just 12 and the oldest 74 Reading is also making sure all generations will be represented on this historic relay. Tonight a flame will be lit in the Madejski Stadium, home of Reading FC for a big celebration celebrating the diversity of Reading.

Are you planning to watch the Torch pass through Reading? Have you seen it pass through your area already?

Add your photos and stories to Historypin to record the Torch’s 2012 journey.

A rejoinder: Hello Historypin

Yes, it’s true, Historypin is becoming a much-loved entity in Australia. With many organisations already so active in using their channels –  Museum Victoria having recently pinned over 9000 pieces of content through the new bulk uploader, the Benevolent Society showcasing its amazing archives in the lead up to a 200 year anniversary, The State Library of Queensland working on ‘pinathons’ with local volunteers and others, The Powerhouse Museum in exhibition planning mode and many other organisations working on special events and exhibition ideas – there’s certainly no shortage of excitement about the potential applications of Historypin.

I’ll be posting regularly here over the coming months to keep you updated on the progress of Australian activities, but to start with I thought it worth briefly running through my own journeys mapping archives, here in Sydney, over the past few years.

Ever since hearing about this emerging space of the geo-web I’ve been wondering what this means for the way we might engage with historical environments. The great appeal of interactive maps, location-aware mobile phones, and other digital publishing tools to me lies in their potential to help us experience recordings of past events and situations in-situ. People talk about ‘augmented reality’ a bit these days – I’ve been thinking more along the lines of ‘augmented histories’.

I first started down this path back in 2003, when I was working on R&D projects for the New Media Division of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. This was around the time when we used to scratch our heads trying to work out how people might use something called ‘broadband’, and futuristic devices called 3G mobile phones.  I recall various techno-futurist pundits getting very excited about the idea of snack TV on mobiles – the idea that phones could extend the TV-watching experience from lounge to train and beyond.  The concept held rather limited appeal, not only because I don’t watch TV, but also because this approach seemed to under-appreciate the potential new uses of wireless broadband.

One feature of smartphones in particular caught my attention: ‘location-awareness’. Imagine being able to use your phone to find out about the environment you’re in? Crazy. Armed with a history degree and a fascination with the possible futures of digital media, I became rather enchanted with a fanciful notion, that perhaps one day these futuristic mobile phones might act as homing devices to the history of a place.

The idea set me off on a series of investigations and projects – in between day jobs – which have experimented with different ideas about how we might interact with a site’s history using new digital tools.  Imagine if you could listen to what this place sounded like in the 1940s, I wondered, wandering home through Kings Cross, Sydney.  With new ipods hitting the stores, and white earbud headphones popping out of everyone’s ears like a contagious disease, I got to thinking a lot about historical sound recordings, and about a kind of interaction experience that wasn’t simply about the small screen, but also used ambient historical recordings recorded right here, thus taking a listener into another time just as they remained in the present. Could I find a recording made at one of the old nightclubs in the ‘Cross during WW2 , when American GIs filled the streets on R&R leave? What did cars sound like back in the 1950s? What events took place here – the protests of the 1960s and 1970s to save historic parts of Sydney – and could they be experienced on location to tell a story about the role of urban activism in shaping the city of today?

Riffing further on this idea of the phone as homing device, I started to wonder about what collections might exist, and started exploring a number of existing historical collections in much the same way one might wander the streets – looking out for familiar landscapes and events, and organising my findings by place. I started to wonder whether the millions of moments of recorded action held in our cultural collections could be enlisted as archaeologies of recorded action. Rather than relying surviving artefacts to give us insights into past environs, I wondered if we might also engage historical recordings in some way. Our cities have witnessed so much change during the twentieth century – oftentimes, in Australia, and in Australian cities in particular, the past is invisible. Could we explore this ‘lost history’, our invisible cities, using archival recordings?

Living in Sydney, Australia, and putting these fanciful ideas into action, I took up a residency with the National Film and Sound Archive in 2007 for a project called Jaywalking Sydney. I returned to the ABC in 2008 to explore their incredible collection of television and radio collections, and created a new platform for interacting with Sydney’s history using the collection materials of the ABC, the Powerhouse Museum, the State Library of NSW, the Dictionary of Sydney and the National Film and Sound Archive. The website, called Sydney Sidetracks, presented collections of curated film, sound, television and photographic materials organised by over 50 ‘points of interest’ around the central city, which could be accessed via Google Maps and smartphones (pre iPhone!).

ABC Sydney Sidetracks, 2008

I composed sound walks, and ‘sound marks’, capturing resonant moments in time, drawing from contemporary and historical recordings.  I started thinking about how these recordings might find their way out of the ether and onto the physical surfaces of buildings, and ended up working with large-scale projections relating to one of Australia’s oldest wharves (Unguarded Moments).

Still from Unguarded Moments, Art & About Sydney 2011, Produced by Sarah Barns & killanoodle

Many of these projects have been documented on my Sites & Sounds blog. I did so much wondering (and wandering), digging and delving, curating and composing, I ended up with a PhD.

Oh, and a new job!

What’s the Australian role all about?

Australians are well known as early up-takers of new technology, so it’s perhaps no surprise that many Australian institutions and individuals have been actively contributing materials to Historypin. Partly in recognition of this support, Historypin have set out with an ambitious goal to create a unique Australian presence on Historypin, to be realised as a series of events and activities taking place throughout 2013, creating what is hoped will be the opportunity for millions of Australians to contribute to and explore a new map of Australian historical moments, memories and milestones. Ultimately, via a broad, inclusive network of partners that currently includes Historypin and The Powerhouse Museum but with many more soon to be confirmed, the project will aim to establish an experience that will continue to grow over many generations to come, to be accessed, enjoyed and debated as a free, open and collaborative part of Australian life.

Get in touch with me if you’d like to stay up to date with this collaborative project – or have a special project you’d like Historypin to help you with. In the coming months we’ll be setting up a unique space for the project, as a base from which to grow some new ideas. As I said, I’ll also be posting here regularly with updates on local developments, showcasing local collections, projects and so forth. I’m looking forward to the journey ahead.


Charlie’s Friday Favourites

This week Historypin launched Pinning the Queen’s History which has been really exciting and people have already shared some dead good photos and stories with us – so this week my blog will be all things Queen Elizabeth II.

Fave Piece of Content

These three images shared by ronlankshear, document his memories and photos of his excitement, waiting to see the Coronation Drive procession through London. ronlankshear, a school boy at the time from St Clement Danes School, whom is at the front of the queue of boys, looks very much in anticipation to see the royal couple. The uniform jacket was dark green and ronlankshear is alongside a couple of boys called Colin and apparently an obscured Martin! The last image shows the Coronation Drive pass through 6 Pavilion Parade, London.

Coronation drive around London, 1953, Shared by ronlankshear

Coronation Drive around London. 1953, Shared by ronlankshear

End of Procession, July 1953, London, Shared by ronlankshear


Fave Story of the Week

Queen Elizabeth II on walkabout in Chatham, October 1984, Shared by cfraser

How great is this story shared by  C Fraser? She tells the tale of an American studying in London with an internship with BBC Radio Kent, where she had the wonderful opportunity to meet The Queen. She was informed by a reporter from the BBC of a good spot to catch a glimpse of The Queen. When the crowd found out cfraser was American they become boisterous and yelled ‘shes from America’ which intrigued the Queen, whom went over and asked what cfraser was doing in London. There, she was able to give The Queen an American coin, of which cfraser later told the tale, when interviewed by a BBC reporter. How amazing is that? How good does The Queen look in pink?

Pinner of the Week

Queen Elizabeth II in Mackay, 1954, Shared by State Library Of Queensland

#PINNEROFTHEWEEK is awarded to State Library of Queensland for their amazing contributions to Pinning The Queen’s History Special Collection. The Queen featured in a gorgeous dress, addressing the crowds in Mackay on her 1954 Australia tour, is my fave of their uploads. My other fave is Waiting to see the Queen, March 1954, which shows some young adults waiting the get their glimpse of The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh. One of them is even sitting above a street sign! State Library of Queensland have shared other themed photos and made a few nifty collections on the site too. Check their full profile here

See what else has been pinned so far and add your photos, videos and stories of The Queen’s visits and previous Jubilee celebrations here:

Chevy Special Collection

We’re launching the first of our Special Collections this month, showcasing Chevys through the ages.

We’re challenging Historypinners to add their own photos, videos and stories and are setting the challenge of trying to get at least one pin for each one of the 194 models Chevy has created over the last 100 years.

The first Chevrolet dates back to 1911, and the cars have been a big part of not-just-American life ever since.

We’ve already got some great Chevy stuff pinned, including this awesome shot of the Chevy founder himself, Louis Chevrolet, sitting in a Buick automobile during the Cobe Cup Race in Indiana,  this model outside the “Hughes cut-rate liquor and drug store”(!) in 1946 and more recently this picture of American Pickers host, Mike Wolfe, at the Woodward Dream Cruise classic auto show near Detroit.

So if you’ve got anything to add, be it an old family photo of you working on your truck, or pics of you posing on your bonnet, 70s style, do add them in.

You can see the Chevy Special Collection here.

PS Keep an eye out for the next Special Collection, due out next month, which sets out to gather content from every one of the Queen’s visits around the world over the last 60 years…