Making the Tough Decision to Pull our Mobile Apps

Historypin supports people who are passionate about using cultural heritage to bring communities together. From Australia to Zimbabwe, we’re proud to help people connect with heritage and engage with each other in new ways. As a non-profit, our central aim is to build the simplest, most effective digital tools which support community engagement and to use our resources where they have maximum impact, maintaining a small set of effective, specific tools rather than a large range that do too many things.

Since we launched, we’ve maintained both the website and the Historypin mobile app for iOS and Android, enabling people to discover and share material when they’re at their desks or when they are out in the world. Like all software, our mobile app requires constant maintenance to keep it working well with the most current versions of phones and tablets. Sadly, our mobile app has fallen behind the times, and a few things aren’t working as well as we’d like, so we have a choice to make. We could put more resources into maintaining the app as it exists now, or we could focus on some new areas of the web platform, including new features that will work much better on mobile devices, and then build on that platform work with some excellent new mobile app tools later on.

We have made the decision to remove the Historypin mobile app from the Apple and Google Play stores. If you already have the app, it will continue to work, but we will no longer be making updates. This decision allows us to better serve our community of heritage activists by building a range of specific digital products, rather than just a single app that mirrors the desktop experience.

The community engagement projects we run have given us excellent feedback from people using and the app, and it is clear that more lightweight, targeted mobile applications are needed. We’re planning to develop specific applications that make it easier to do just one thing–things which help open, enrich and inspire people to collaborate around cultural heritage. Things like recording an oral history, digitising a photo in a community centre, following a heritage trail to discover a local story or taking a “repeat” modern photo of a historical scene.

In the past four years the mobile technology landscape has also transformed. More people are using a greater variety of devices and the technologies to deliver content directly through mobile browsers. We are therefore focusing our efforts on designing “mobile first” experiences and harnessing HTML5 so that will work seamlessly on all tablet and mobile browsers. Some of our new projects, for example “Mapping the Panama-Pacific International Exposition” already reflect this thinking, and work quite well on mobile platforms.

We’d also love to hear from you. Let us know what kinds of things are important to you in apps or the mobile experience. Are there elements of apps that your institution would be willing to pay for, or are spending budget on with vendors already? Are there ways you’re using apps or mobile to engage with your community, or would want to? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Thank you very much to everyone who has used our app so far; your support and feedback has been hugely valuable, and we look forward to launching more Historypin products to support community archiving. If you’re interested in working with us on them – coding, funding, beta testing or beyond, please get in touch with Jon, Historypin Strategic Partnerships Director, at

Mapping Emotions in Victorian London

The project’s main map, showing “pins” of novel passages mapped out throughout London. Map overlay courtesy of the National Library of Scotland.

Mapping Emotions of Victorian London is an experiment that visualizes data about thousands of passages from 1400 Victorian novels, using crowdsourcing to ascribe emotional sentiment to them. We’re proud to launch this third and final project as part of a three year Andrew W. Mellon funded research grant with Stanford University’s Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis exploring the use and design of crowdsourcing to benefit academic research.

You can read more about the project from the Stanford scholars on their site, see our behind-the-scenes work over the last three years, read our paper from Museums and the Web 2015 (slides, paper), articles in the New York Times and FastCoDesign, and look out for two papers being presented at DH2015 in July.

Sevendials: The comments section of an example pin in the project, showing a reference card generated automatically with a Wikipedia url.

An example literary passage from the project. Its mapped location appears on the left, alongside pins for other passages about the same location.


You can search project tags to find passages by specific authors, as with this example search for “Dickens.”


A closer look at the metadata for a literary passage in the project (just click on the 'Pin Metadata' arrow to expand). Shown are tags attributed to each pin, with the options for members of the public to add more tags, and the pin’s copyright information. This includes the percentage of Mechanical Turk users who found this particular passage 'happy' versus 'fearful.'

Do you have memories or photographs of the Bedford Tavern?

The real history of pubs like the Bedford Tavern on Seven Sisters Road lives with its people: previous and current landlords, locals who enjoy a quiet drink on the weekend and everyone else who has made some connection to the pub.

We’re working with local people to create a shared history of the Bedford Tavern and we need your help to add materials and memories. Everything gathered will be added to the digital archive, where it might even become part of a book about London community pubs.

Join us at the Bedford Tavern to share stories and photographs, and perhaps learn something new about your favourite pub.

Bring your friends, photos and best stories!

Friday 17 April 2015, 2.30pm to 7pm

Bedford Tavern, 160 Seven Sisters Rd Islington, London N7 7PT

Explore and upload material online

Visit the Bedford Tavern’s Historypin project here to contribute to the digital archive.

Local pub history events in April

Have you been coming to your pub forever? Does the landlord know your name? Or are you new to the area and would you like to know more about it?

We’re working with local people to create a shared history of great boozers in and around London and we need your help to add materials and memories. Everything gathered will be added to the digital archive, where it might even become part of a book about London community pubs.

We’ll be at the pubs below in the next few weeks, so join us and bring your friends, photos and best stories!

  • The Hope, Thursday 2 April, 3pm to 5pm
  • The Alma, Tuesday 14 April, 7pm to 9pm

Explore and upload material online

If you can’t make it, you can also see each of these pubs on our Historypin website. Click here to visit and contribute to the digital archive.

For more information, contact Lise den Brok on

Announcing California Pride: Mapping LGBTQ Histories

The California Pride project page on Historypin

Today we are excited to launch our newest project California Pride: Mapping LGBTQ Historiesan online archive of memories, stories, and images related to sites throughout the state of California associated with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) experiences.

Supported by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the California Preservation Foundation, and led by architectural and public historians Shayne Watson and Donna Graves respectively, this project aims to identify and interpret historic places associated with LGBTQ history in California. This also includes information about sites important to LGBTQ communities of color, transgender people, the bisexual community, and other under-documented groups within the LGBTQ communities. In a wider context, this project builds on recent studies in San Francisco and Los Angeles that document the critical role California has played in LGBTQ history in the United States.

Jewel Thais-Williams posing inside of Jewel's Catch One in Los Angeles, California. Thais-Williams founded the nightclub in 1973, and not only was it one of the first African American discos in the country, but it was also one of the few places in LA where LGBTQ African Americans felt welcome in the midst of widespread discrimination. Photo by Katie Falkenberg, pinned to California Pride by Shayne Watson.

Explore and upload material online

LGBTQ history is best told by the people who have lived it—you can help this project reflect on the diverse places that tell the stories of the LGBTQ community in the Golden State. Visit the California Pride project on Historypin here, and click the button below or in the project to contribute to the digital archive.

If you have any questions or comments, we’d love to hear from you, just email Kerri at

Memories of The Old Eagle

Last month, the Historypin team were involved in a great photograph and memory sharing event, exploring the history of The Old Eagle pub in Camden, London.

The pub is well known in the area and we were afforded the wonderful opportunity to speak to regulars who have visited The Old Eagle regularly for at least 40 years. This provided some great insight into the pub’s past interior design and some of the characters who once ran the pub.

We really enjoyed the evening we spent there, listening to old stories and looking at old photographs. We even got the chance to catch Whiskey Mick and other session musicians during their weekly jam.

We’re running a similar event soon at The Queen’s Head. We’d love to see you there so come along, bring your friends and share some photographs and stories of a great pub. Anyone is welcome to join, so do get involved, even if it’s just because you’re interested in pub history.

Event details:

Date – Monday 23rd March 2015 7-9pm
Location – The Queen’s Head on 66 Acton Street, London
Contact Lise for more details of the event:

Hope to see you there.

Launching Our New Panama-Pacific International Exposition Project

Aerial view of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition from the Aeroscope, pinned to our new project by the Anne T. Kent California Room at the Marin County Free Library.

On Saturday, February 21st, Kerri, Jon, and our new intern Krissia participated in a Community Day at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition (PPIE) and to launch our brand-new new project Mapping the PPIE. This world’s fair in the City By the Bay saw almost 19 million people visit over the course of its ten-month lifespan, all celebrating the resilience and rebuilding of a city destroyed in the famous 1906 earthquake and fire. Historypin is one of around 50 core partners helping our friends at the California Historical Society (CHS) celebrate this centennial, and together over the course of this year we will collaborate on many events and celebrations around the Bay Area.

A screenshot of the map within our new PPIE project, where users can pin photos accurately to their corresponding building/pavilion locations in 1915. Thus, while the Palace of Fine Arts remains the only building on the former grounds left (center), this project will help re-envision the area a century ago.

Mapping the PPIE on Historypin is a place for community partners and individuals with personal and archival collections to pin and curate memories and images of the fair. As an exciting feature, our team did some great work on geo-rectifying a map of the PPIE exposition grounds onto Google Maps, so that those who contribute to the project can do so with unprecedented accuracy and help those exploring the project get a sense of the size and scope of the 1915 event. We were able to share this new project on Historypin at Community Day-over 7,000 people showed up to the Palace of Fine Arts- and over the course of the day had fun talking and swapping PPIE stories with a steady stream of visitors.

Community Officer Kerri and new Historypin intern Krissia at the Historypin table at the PPIE Community Day, February 21st, 2015.

Evanna Lynn Dunlop, a 3rd generation San Franciscan, stopped by our table and shared her original 1915 postcard book from the fair passed down from her grandparents. We had fun talking about the massive changes the city has seen since then, and hope to help her pin these photos to our project.

The Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco on Community Day, lit as it was a century ago at the Panama Pacific International Exposition in 1915. Built for the fair, it is the only one remaining on the exposition grounds today.

We look forward to getting as much PPIE content into our project as possible over the course of the year, and bringing together your collections to recreate 1915. If you have any questions about the project or about contributing content, please contact Kerri at To see how you can explore the project, check out this video:


Europeana Tech 2015

Last week, the Historypin team united from as far as San Francisco, London and Sofia, Bulgaria to attend Europeana Tech 2015 conference at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (National Library of France) in Paris.

The conference brought together a diverse range of people from application developers, technologists, researchers, designers, and cultural heritage professionals to share knowledge and work together to help shape the future of cultural content.

Check out the Euopeana Tech programme 2015 here and the tweet list here.

Discussions were interesting, varied, and delved into the current challenges of working with cultural content including discoverability, the importance of rich metadata and how this can be achieved through technical and crowdsourced modes, optimised web search, publicity and R&D. Reuse was another important strand to be discussed including the latest designs and ideas to facilitate reuse in a way which would prevent the separation of content from it’s metadata.

Historypin’s Jon Voss spoke about the critical role that open data and technology can play in creating social value and how cultural heritage can be harnessed to help build stronger communities. He shared some of the great local projects around the world using Historypin, from neighbourhood history projects to reminiscence sessions, and local story collecting.

We heard from some inspirational speakers including Seb Chan (Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum), Dan Cohen (DPLA), Andy Neale (DigitalNZ), George Oates (Good Form & Spectacle), Tim Sherratt (Trove), Dr Chris Welty (Google), James Morely (Europeana Foundation) and Jon Voss (Historypin).

Thank you to Europeana for organising an insightful and fascinating conference and to the Bibliothèque Nationale de France for hosting.

Do you have memories or photographs of the Magpie and Stump?

The real history of pubs like the Magpie and Stump lives with its people: previous and current landlords, detectives who come for a drink after a case at the Old Bailey, office workers who celebrate the arrival of the weekend and everyone else who has made some connection to the pub.

We’re working with local people to create a shared history of the Magpie and Stump and we need your help to add materials and memories. Everything gathered will be added to the digital archive, where it might even become part of a book about London community pubs.

Join us at the Magpie and Stump for an evening of sharing stories, seeing photos from the Magpie’s archive and hearing anecdotes from local pub historians.

Bring your friends, photos and best stories!

Wednesday 18 February 2015, 5pm – 8pm

Magpie and Stump, 18 Old Bailey, London EC4M 7EP

Explore and upload material online

Visit the Magpie and Stump’s Historypin project here to contribute to the digital archive

First World War Engagement Centres Meet Up

Last week, we joined a meet up of the five UK First World War Engagement Centres which took place in the beautiful setting of Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre in Selly Oak, Birmingham.

The Engagement Centres are based in clusters of Universities across the UK and are designed to be hubs to support local community groups running commemorative First World War projects and to work with them to build new collaborative research projects. Check them out here

Voices of War and Peace, Birmingham

Everyday Lives in War, Hertfordshire

Centre for Hidden Histories, Nottingham

Gateways to the First World War, Kent

Living Legacies 1914-18, Belfast

The Engagement Centres are connecting with many of the projects using the Historypin First World War hub and we are working with them to support online and offline collaboration.

Here are some great examples of what’s happening so far. From past events such as a FWW roadshow, a talk on the Christmas truce of 1914 and a 1930s film screening of ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ to future events such as ‘WW1 AND YOU’ – an interactive event to share stories and memorabilia and an exciting performance of ‘Oh What a Lovely War’ and much much more.

The meet up was a great opportunity to get together with everyone from the Centres, hear about the variety of activities so far and find out about what’s on the horizon. Keep an eye on Historypin and the Centres for more news.