Community Archiving, Strategies for Engagement

We held a web seminar in October 2014 as a followup from our work with Natalie Milbrodt and the Queens Public Library around Queens: Neighborhood Stories. The project, funded by the Metropolitan New York Library Council, sought to explore possibilities for engagement through community archiving sessions at branch libraries. In addition to Natalie’s work throughout the project, we had great support from Anne Karle-Zenith and the team at METRO. They encouraged us to explore some of the lessons that could be shared with those taking on similar projects, which we were of course happy to do. The 6 videos running a total time of just over an hour are embedded below in a playlist, which you can also access here.

We’re continuing to build on these lessons and would love to hear from you as well. Please use the comments space below to share some of the things that have worked with you, or to ask questions of the team.

Historypin, the US National Archives, and Fury

Today is the US opening day for the movie Fury, starring Brad Pitt as a tank commander nearing the dangerous final days of fighting in Germany during World War II.  As part of our work with the US National Archives, we’ve had an incredible glimpse into the war both at home and abroad, with newly digitized newsreel clips from April 1945.  Criss Kovac, supervisor of the National Archives Motion Picture Preservation Lab (who happened to get a sneak peak of the film at the Fury premiere in DC this week–jealous!) gives great context to the film in this post along with the just-released newsreels and amazing gif images.  The Fury team has also put together a digital discussion guide you can download which adds further context (and thanks for the Historypin shoutout!)

We’ve started to work on geolocating some of these NARA newsreel clips on Historypin, as you can see below with footage of the first gathering of the United Nations in San Francisco on April 25, 1945. You can almost hear the word’s of President Truman echoing through the Herbst Theater today, “If we do not want to die together in war, we must learn to live together in peace.”

We’ll be releasing more details soon, but we’re teaming up with the Rio Theater and Cafe in Monte Rio, California November 8th, 2014 for a special Veteran’s Day screening of Fury. The special dinner and a movie experiential event, Homefront 1945, will let the historic Quonset hut theater us back in time to experience the sounds, tastes and stories of our country at war and hear from residents, veterans, and historians about what life in California, and on the front, was like in April 1945.


The night will feature swing music from the 1940’s, a modern take on vintage foods, actual newsreels from April 1945, and a diverse roundtable of experts and first hand accounts of life on the homefront and the front lines.  You’ll be able to share your own personal or family stories on Historypin as well, and we’ll have on display and will be raffling off reproductions of maps, war bonds posters, and digitally restored films from the National Archives collection, as well as official Fury posters.

Do you have family photos or memories to share about World War II?  You can add them to Historypin now! Interested in hosting a film and memory sharing event like this yourself? Let us know in the comments or drop a line to Jon Voss, Strategic Partnership Director at Historypin.

American Experience Launches the Engineering Map of America

The original Pennsylvania Station, erected in 1910 in New York City, was a vast structure that occupied two whole city blocks, or 28 acres. Image courtesy of Library of Congress.

New York’s Pennsylvania Station was an incredible achievement of modern engineering, though in the rapidly changing landscape of New York City, it would stand only for a number of decades. As usual, the American Experience team brings this exciting history to life in their new film, The Rise and Fall of Penn Station, on PBS.

As part of the February 18th debut of the film, American Experience has launched the Engineering Map of America. Their team has worked with content partners to map engineering feats across the United States on the interactive map, powered by Historypin. They’ve also updated the American Experience iPhone app, adding another chapter to the Abolitionist Map of America, and now including geolocated video content of America’s most amazing construction projects. Check out their video below about the app.

Historypin and American Experience on the upcoming Abolitionists Series

For history geeks and historical documentary lovers like us, American Experience is the big leagues. So you can imagine how thrilled we were to be approached by the producers of “tv’s most-watched history series” to discuss working together.  Having logged countless couch hours watching their documentaries, we jumped at the chance of working with their fabled team to kickstart a campaign around “Mapping History.”

We’re excited to be playing a part in their new three-part series, The Abolitionists, airing beginning January 8 on PBS.  As part of the extensive online interactive components of the series, you’ll find The Abolitionist Map of America, and an exclusive iPhone App, which highlights photographs, audio and video from the film, as well as content from the many cultural heritage partners that contributed source material, and even individual users.

Watch Map History With Us! on PBS. See more from American Experience.

It’s the first time the Historypin framework has been utilized to support a film, and offers a new and unique way of highlighting the source materials featured throughout.  The embedded map and gallery browsers give viewers the ability to spatially explore the content and see how the story fits into local history, while at the same time digging deeper into the source collections, and even adding their own comments and stories to each individual piece of content.  From the producers perspective, it adds a participatory element that gives content providers and viewers a voice within the narrative, and a new lens for the filmmakers to highlight the curatorial aspect of their work.  Finally, cultural heritage partners have been enthusiastic about the Historypin integration because it gives them a chance to bring viewers deeper into their collections without leaving the environment of the film.

You can expect to see more exciting projects like this in the coming year, and we’ll be creating greater integration of other documentary content into the main Historypin site.

Read More about the Abolitionists and the Abolitionist Map of America:
Official press release from the PBS Pressroom
–Post about the project from Inside American Experience
–Post about the project from Out of the Box, the Library of Virginia’s blog.
–Post about the project from This Morning Is History, a blog by the Delaware Historical Society
Cincinnati Herald story about the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County involvement in the project.

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!

Innovation requires Improvisation

I had the great privilege to travel to New Zealand at the end of last year to attend the National Digital Forum in Wellington, which was an amazing international gathering of innovators in the technology and cultural heritage space.  I also took part in LODLAM-NZ, hosted and organized by DigitalNZ.

All of the videos from the presentations have been online for awhile now, and all of them are well worth taking a look–I’m serious.  Eleanor Whitworth wrote up a fantastic summary of the conference as well.

I was invited to give a 7 minute ignite talk about Historypin and Linked Open Data in libraries, archives, and museums.  Unfortunately, I had A/V difficulties that turned my talk into a comedy of errors.  Of course my Kiwi hosts were generous with my alloted time and also spooned out plenty of good natured teasing.  The video is basically an outtake (I’d do it over if I could! Especially the important National Archives photo-fade marking the beginning of the forced detainment of Japanese Americans during WWII, which is when my video flipped on), but I thought it was worth sharing if for no other reason than to illustrate that part of innovating is failing.  Sometimes we come up short, and sometimes things fall apart in front of an international audience of our colleagues.  But in my mind at least, innovation also requires improvisation, humility, and a good sense of humor.

The missing slides that I had to work through with interpretive dance are in the Slideshare below the video.

Wessex Film and Sound Archive

Oxford Road, ReadingClick here to watch the video

As part of ‘Pinning Reading’s History‘ we approached Wessex Film and Sound Archive about sharing some of their films of Reading. With over 35,000 films and sound recordings, they are a rich resource for recordings relating to Southern England.

They were keen to get involved and have shared some great clips from their archive, including Reading Town Centre (when there were still trams on Oxford Road) and how biscuits were made at Huntley and Palmers.

You can find out more about Wessex Film and Sound Archive here, on their Flickr page and by following them on @WessexFilm.

If you’d like to share video or audio recordings from your collection on Historypin, contact Rebekkah on

Leyland Festival on the Map

Leyland FestivalClick to watch the Leyland Festival video

Thanks to brian.taylor50 who has shared this great video clip of the 1975 Leyland Festival in Lancashire. Dating back to the 1890s when it was know as the ‘May Festival’, it has been revived in recent years.

Do you remember the Leyland Festival? Share your photos or stories about it, and help build up the history of the festival from the 1890s to today.

If you’d like to share video or audio recording on Historypin, contact Rebekkah on