Working With Memory and Place in Senior Care Homes

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

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

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

Some resources so far on procedure:

RG Plaza:

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

Rhoda Goldman session release form | Rhoda Goldman story collecting sheet

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

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

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

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

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


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

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.

Syracuse University Visits Historypin

On 18 November 2014, the class of ‘Digital Britain: Engaging the User’ from Syracuse University visited Historypin for a morning’s workshop. We were really happy to be able to share and discuss with a great group of enthusiastic digital communications students. Here is a guest blog post from lecturer Carol Nahra about the day.

As a London-based university lecturer hosting visiting American students, it can be difficult sometimes to plan field trips that get them into the heart of bustling London without sacrificing learning. Sometimes visits can be too superficial, and light on content. But keep them bound to the classroom and they might as well be back home in the U.S. The ideal study abroad experience is all about offering up quality opportunities to learn in their temporary city. I recently hit the jackpot by taking my students on a visit to Historypin. They were able to step directly into a central London workspace, whilst also taking part in a valuable workshop which was crucially two way in its information exchange.

The Syracuse University class I teach is called Digital Britain: Engaging the User, and is all about ways in which the British media and cultural industries are using the digital revolution to engage in creative ways. We’ve been to the Telegraph and the BBC, as well as the Science Museum and Wellcome Trust, examining and reviewing a range of interactive projects.


To prepare for our visit, Lise from Historypin developed a homework assignment that got the students signing up to Historypin and posting photos. They were told that their feedback about this process would go directly to the site’s developers – this knowledge spurred the students to give it more attention than they might otherwise have done!

In the workshop, after learning about Historypin and its objectives, and mission, Lise and her colleague Sophie engaged the students in a discussion in which they verbally gave feedback on their homework. These 20 year-old digital natives weren’t shy about sharing what they felt worked about the site and what could be improved, and I think their comments were appreciated by Lise and Sophie, particularly as their demographic is not overly represented on the site.

The students’ input was followed up with detailed bullet points, for example from one student who said: “I would personally feel more comfortable sharing stories and items if my profile was private and I could approve of the viewers.” Much of their feedback centered on how Historypin operates as a hybrid sharing site, and how best it can fit into a crowded social media landscape.

They also had the chance to role play some of Historypin’s very active users, and think through how such a site can enrich the lives of a range of people. In all it was a very engaging day, and one that I hope to repeat with the next batch of students!

Remembering the Baa-Baas

Nick Stanhope, Tigers fan since the 1980s chats with Peter Reeves, a fan since the 1940s

Last week the Historypin Team was in Leicester with Soft Touch Arts and the University of Leicester collecting sporting memories from Leicester Tigers fans. We ran a drop in event, inviting fans to come bring in their memorabilia and share their memories about the annual rugby match between the Tigers and the Barbarians.

Before the event we’d already had some fun memories shared on Facebook, including the identification of Pete Curtis, famous for getting drunk and climbing things from cross bars to lamposts – anyone remember him? The hunt is still on for a photo of one of his escapades.

We also found out the story behind this image:

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

Word of mouth spread the photo through a chain of Tigers fans and reunited this photo to with the gentleman depicted, Bob Nicholas, who was able to shed light on the ridiculous hats:

A friend has sent me the link to the Tigers website and the Leicester Mercury photo of my family at the match in the 1980’s.  I no longer live in UK but have very fond memories of the matches during the latter part of the amateur era.  The photo was probably from 1987 and came about because, in those days, if you dressed up in something extraordinary there was every chance the press would record it for posterity!  I wore a “Rudolph-the-Red-Nosed-Reindeer” hat and my children wore Moosehats I had found on a trip to the USA.  The policeman who was patrolling the touchline before kick-off stopped as he passed us by and I asked him if, as it was Christmas, he wanted to swap his party hat for mine.  His response was “I’m not sure which one of us would look more stupid, Sir” and just at that moment a photographer took the picture. 

My theory of getting press coverage did work.  Rugby Special showed recorded highlights of the match and panned onto us in the crowd.  On another occasion we were interviewed by Jonathan Agnew who had recently joined Radio Leicester, just because we were wearing the hats, and after the match he broadcast that it was his first visit to a BaaBaas match and the first time he’d met Rudolph-the-Red-Nosed-Reindeer.  I’ve dined out on the story a few times, but still miss the sheer joy of watching two sides playing for the pure love of the game. 

It was definitely worth waiting in the queue for the gates to open in order to get a good position in the front of the Enclosure – all before season tickets were introduced.

At the event we were joined by people from across the Tiger family, including fans, retired players, the club historian, ex-captains and volunteers who had run the catering. They brought in a wealth of memorabilia – ticket stubs, newspaper articles, programmes and even a sock signed by David Campese!

Sock signed by Barbarians player David Campese, brought in by Angela Murphy who volunteered with the catering dept at Welford Rd (Image courtesy of LFC)

Rob Ross also brought in his impressive collection of Tigers vs Barbarian programmes which included every one since World War Two and one from 1910:

Tigers vs Barbarians Programme, 1910 shared by Rob Ross (Image courtesy of LFC)

And as luck would have it, Mike Harrison, Tigers player from 1962-1971 and captain from 1964, was on hand to sign the 1964 programme.

Mike Harrison, retired Tigers captain, signs Rob Cross' programme

You can listen here to Mike speaking about how special the annual Barbarians game was and the unique atmosphere of the ground and watch here to see former Tigers player and match commentator Bleddyn Jones speak about how he joined the Tigers team after casually joining their training one evening.

It was a great event with loads of materials and memories shared and some great stories unearthed. You can see everything that was gathered, alongside 100s of photos from the Leicester Mercury newspaper archive here. And if you’d like to know more about our work with Leicester Tigers, or have materials and memories to share, email

Programme Tigers vs Barbarians 1960 (Image courtesy of LFC)

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

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.

#ArtMap Live in York

Wednesday saw the first of our Putting Art on the Map live events. A brilliant team of students and art enthusiasts, curators and history buffs joined Historypin, Imperial War Museums’ and the research team from Edinburgh University in the Yorkshire Museum’s beautiful Hospilitum to crowdsource art from the First World War.

It was a couple of hours of intense detective work as everyone beavered away on iPads and laptops to find out more about the paintings and collaborated to piece together interesting links with other materials.

One of the teams managed to suggest an exact location for for G. S. Allfree’s A torpedoed Tramp Steamer off the Longships, Cornwall, 1918. They identified the wreck depicted as the SS Beaumaris, finding its wreck report and dating it to the 7th of February 1918. They also discovered a recent diving party went to explore the wreck and even had video footage of the dive and the wrecked vessel!

Meanwhile Donald Maxwell’s beautifully haunting St George and the Dragon: Zeppelin L15 in the Thames, April 1916 gave one group a challenge, but they were more than equal to it. Not only did they locate where the Zeppelin came down, but they also found a ton of contextualising images and data explaining the story behind this amazing painting.


We had activity going on in the Twittersphere too, with suggestions and answers being corroborated and challenged online. Take a look at this Sorify to read all that happened.

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 fantastic artworks.

Over the next few months we’ll be running more events like these to solve some of the mysteries of the collection. Meanwhile you can take part in the Putting Art on the Map project through curating your own tours and collections of IWM’s fantastic artworks, solving mysteries online on Historypin or via IWM’s daily Tweets, Facebook and Google+ posts. Keep an eye on our blog for the latest news.

Remembering how we used to … with Llanilltud Primary School

A few weeks ago the Historypin Team headed to Wales for a series of community workshops with schools and retirees as part of our latest project, ‘Remember how we used to’. We were joined by some super volunteers from npower and we visited pupils at Llanilltud Fawr Primary School in Llanwit Major to capture photos and stories about how our home and work lives had changed over the decades.

The Old Swan Inn, Llanwit Major, 1930s

Llanilltud pupils had been given the mission to speak to their parents and grandparents about what technology, devices and toys they had growing up. We started off with one pupil’s observation that of course the past was very different as colour had not been invented and everything was in black and white. Once that was clarified, we got stuck in talking about what the pupils had discovered.

1990s technology figured largely, with discussion about parents who had laptops and Motorola mobiles. As we delved deeper into the past we started to talk about things that were probably familiar to only some of the adults in the room. Declan’s parents had one of the earliest personal desktop computers on the market in the 1970s, the Radio Shack TRS-80 and Iona’s Dad received the handheld game Blip for his birthday in 1977. A far cry from the iPads that many pupils’ families now have.

As we turned to toys, we established that in the old days not only did they not have Playstation 3, they didn’t even have Playstation 2! The kids had lots of fun discussing their parents’ toys – one Dad had a Big Trak as a boy, and another had an electric racing car with a hand held controller.

Many students had also brought in their own photos photographs and you can see the stories shared on Llanilltud Fawr Primary School’s Channel. Lily had delved particularly deep into the past, bringing in photos of herself and her Mum, Nana, Great-Grandmother and Great-Great Grandmother!

As talk turned to Grandparents, Caitland told us an amazing story about her Grandfather who fought in Second World War and whose life was saved by a silver coin in his pocket which deflected a bullet. Her nanny still has the coin. Declan’s great-great grandfather had an electric car, whilst Lily told us how the silk bridesmaid’s dresses seen in her family photos from the 1990s would have been very unusual during World War Two because silk was very rare as it was used for parachutes.

So, from fashion to computers there was plenty of discussion about how things had changed over the years and everybody involved had a great time – whether it was volunteers’ nostalgia about 1970s gadgets or the kids finding out about the toys their parents played with.

Historypin heads to Brighton

The Historypin Team is getting excited as next week we will be hitting the road and heading down to Brighton to take part in Our Digital Planet.

Created by the Nominet Trust, Our Digital Planet is an outdoor street gallery exhibition demonstrating the power the internet has to change our lives for the better.

We’ll be down on the Promenade on Wednesday 22nd August to show some of the ace photos that have been pinned and help you add your memories about Brighton. So come down and say hello, armed with photos and stories to add!

If you can’t wait until Wednesday, Our Digital Planet will be in town from Thursday 16th August until Monday 3rd September. There will be an outdoor street gallery exhibition showcasing 24 thought-provoking images of the social impact of the internet, and a drop-in internet station where you can chat to Nominet volunteers about how to get started online or get more out of using the internet. And don’t forget to check the timetable for other activities that you can get involved with during the week from folks like We’re Altogether Better, DigitalMe and Made with Jam.

Don’t live in Brighton? Don’t worry, Our Digital Planet will be hopping all over the UK over the next few months. To find out more about other locations and details about Brighton activities, visit their website.

Hope to see you on the 22nd!

The Hay Workshop

Hay Festival, June 2010, Shared by Historypin Team

We’ve just been running an interactive session for young people at Hay Festival, in the beautiful Brecon Beacons, Wales.

A group of around 15 people gathered in Scribblers Hut to find out what Historypin is and explore why its important that personal history is preserved and shared.

The group went on to match pictures from the site with the stories that accompanied them – with involved lots of close inspection and trying to tell the difference between images from different decades and different places around the globe, but with a keen eye for detail the group aced the exercise.

They then went out into the festival itself to gather their own stories from the primary historical sources available – aka festival attendees… As citizen historians, they gathered memories and stories relating to a number of iconic historical moments which ranged from the fall of the Berlin Wall, to Usain Bolt winning at the Beijing Olympics.

You can see all the stories they gathered on the Hay Workshop Channel on Historypin here. Click on “Show favourites” (next to “show uploads”) to see all the photos we talked about and the stories added!

Thanks to Nominet for getting us the slot at the festival – great to get more people excited about Historypin!