First World War Timeline Data

Together We Win WWI poster courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration. http://research.archives.gov/description/512482

When we first started doing research into First World War centenary events, we looked for an easy to use timeline of events so we could keep an eye on major anniversaries and see where we were on the timeline, 100 years later.  Surprisingly, I couldn’t find any timelines in openly licensed, structured data form.  So I took the liberty of cleaning up the data from the Wikipedia timeline of WWI and putting together a first stab at a csv file for public use.

WWI-events-wikipedia-links.csv

Please feel free to use this data however you like.  Design up a sweet WWI anniversary calendar, create a tweetbot, a blog highlighting the events of the War 100 years later, your own javascript timeline with Timeline JS, or something nobody but you has ever thought of.  Also, feel free to make improvements on the data itself, RDFize it, convert it to XML, map it to the Europeana Data Model, etc.  This was just a quick first draft for our own uses. I’ve put it up on github if you’d like share your data modifications.

We’d love to hear what you do with the data, just let us know in the comments!

Digging into WWI and Family History

With the 100th anniversary of the assassination of Franz Ferdinand last week, we’re now officially entering the Centenary of the First World War (or WWI as we call it in the States).  We’ll be sharing a lot of exciting projects we’re involved in over the coming weeks and months, but for now many of us on the Historypin team are getting deep into research of all types.  My own personal research has revolved around my grandfather’s WWI journal, complete with a couple dozen tiny photographs.  As I’ve shared these resources with my extended family, more pieces of the picture are coming into focus (oh!).  Just today I received the original Kodak Vest Pocket Camera my grandfather used in the war from my cousin Dan, who received the camera as a gift from my grandfather many years ago.  I’m looking forward to figuring out how we’ll incorporate the use of this camera for one of our many First World War projects!

Photos from my grandfather's Vest Pocket Camera including other servicemen taking photos, and the camera itself.

Year of the Bay: Inner Sunset Photos and Mysteries from the San Francisco Public Library

800 Irving St., 1949. From the History Room at the San Francisco Public Library.

This week our friends at the San Francisco Public Library contributed another great set of neighborhood photos to our Year of the Bay archive, featuring the Inner Sunset District. Those familiar with this area, developed after 1887 by real estate investors (prior to this the area was all sand dunes), know very well that the “Sunset District” has little to do with sunshine and all to do with that famous San Francisco fog. Today, in a rapidly developing city, the area still manages to retain the feeling of a small town, with plenty of mom-and-pop diners, drug stores, and grocery stores.

The San Francisco Public Library’s photo set of the Inner Sunset captures these kinds of small businesses that make the area so beloved by locals, mostly during the period between 1946-1952.

Billing's Dime Store near 10th and Irving, c.1946-52.

Most of the Inner Sunset photos have been Street Viewed as well, and you can view these by clicking on the "Street View" tab of the pin's dialog box.

Some of the SFPL's Inner Sunset photographs as date mysteries. Login to your free Historypin account, and press the "Solve" button next to the photo you'd like to make a guess at.

Many of these photos still need exact dates, and we’d love for you to leave your comments and suggestions to the photos in our Mysteries section of the project. Here are some quick tips for adding your guesses to these Inner Sunset mysteries:

  1. Go to yearofthebay.org and at the top right, log in with your Google, Facebook, or Twitter account. If you don’t have a Historypin account, create one for free!
  2. Back at www.yearofthebay.org, hit the “Mysteries” tab (default tab is “Map”).
  3. On the left side, select Show me: Unsolved mysteries (also the default), and scroll down the list of Inner Sunset mysteries (among others). If you want to see mysteries that other people have already commented on, tick Show Me: Under investigation on the left bar.
  4. Choose a photo from the list you want to help solve, and press Solve.
  5. The interface will prompt you to enter a new date. Once you make your suggestion, you will be able to enter in why you’ve made the choice you have.
  6. That’s it!  Because this is a beta tool (which is to say we’re still working on it to make it better), if anything weird happens, feel free to comment on this blog post, or fill out this easy form to let us know what happened.

If you don’t want to help solve mysteries, we’d still love to see your comments! Explore all of the SFPL’s recent Inner Sunset photos in our project on Historypin, and all of the library’s photos to date on their profile.

 

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

Seeking Contributions to Remember Abraham Lincoln

The following is a guest blog post from the crack team at Ford’s Theatre, who are combing personal and institutional collections the world over to help document, recreate, and share the sentiments of the days following Lincoln’s assassination.  Do you have something to contribute?

The assassination of President Abraham Lincoln at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C., on Friday, April 14, 1865, shook the nation and the world. People expressed a range of emotions—shock, sadness, jubilation—and shared their thoughts and feelings in a wide variety of ways.

Phoenix Steam Fire Engine No. 3 of Detroit as it apeared in the funeral procession of the late President, shared by Detroit Historical Society

To capture that emotion and connect people with it today, we at the Ford’s Theatre Society, along with over a dozen partner organizations, are in the process of creating a digital collection called Remembering Lincoln.

Our goal is to make this national story local, for people around the United States and around the world. Yes, many of the major events took place in the area surrounding Washington. But literally millions of people turned out in the cities where Lincoln’s funeral train traveled, such as Columbus, Ohio.

Beyond those places, people mourned—and a few celebrated—in localities all over the map.  It has been remarkable to learn of the varied responses and letters of condolence that ambassadors and others received from around the globe.

To represent those responses – local to each community – Ford’s Theatre is working with a range of partner organizations—many of them state and local historical societies—to digitize relevant items in their collections. These can include diaries, newspapers, letters, photos, engravings, mourning ribbons, pieces of clothing, poems—any way that people represented their responses. We are in the process of creating a website to display those items.

Here  are some of the ways that people expressed their responses in the days and weeks after the assassination:

But we also know that our partner organizations don’t have all of the responses to the assassination in their collections. Many responses are hidden away, whether in libraries, archives, museums, local historical societies, or even people’s attics.  And those responses may help shed light on the world of 1865 and better understand how people were living their lives and who we are today as a result.

Thus, we’re working with Historypin to help surface some of these buried treasures. On our project page, you can see items that have come in—and pin your own!

Already, a treasure has come to the surface. Not long after we launched our project on April 14 (the 149th anniversary of the Lincoln assassination), Laura Goetz of Stevens Point, Wisconsin, remembered a display case in the Portage County Courthouse, where she often works. The display case contains items several items from Wisconsin soldier W.H. Noble, who served in the honor guard on Lincoln’s funeral train.

So, Laura went to the courthouse, took some photos, and started pinning them to Historypin! After we emailed with each other, she went to talk with the Clerk of Courts, who was thrilled that the items in the display case would be part of a national project. They managed to track down the owner—a descendant of Noble—and are working with her to digitize the items.

We need your help to bring more items like these to the surface! Do you, or does your organization, have a relevant response to the Lincoln assassination? Read more about what we’re looking for, then pin it to our Historypin page!

Once you do, we’ll ask you some questions about the item, and then potentially put it into the Remembering Lincoln digital collection.

Year of the Bay: Help Add Information to These Mid-Market Photographs From the San Francisco Public Library

The Mid-Market neighborhood of San Francisco, featuring the now demolished Granada Theater, 1922. From The San Francisco Public Library

Today The Bold Italic published another wonderful photo essay featuring Year of the Bay pins from our friends at the San Francisco Public Library, part of our monthly collaboration with the popular local San Francisco magazine to feature photographs of the city’s neightborhoods. This month feature’s San Francisco’s Mid-Market neighborhood, at the heard of the city’s downtown.

The Mid-Market neighborhood, also called Central Market, encompasses parts of the city’s Tenderloin, South of Market (SoMa), and Civic Center districts. Completely leveled after San Francisco’s devastating 1906 earthquake and fire, the area has since been known for its gritty and colorful character, and as the subject of many redevelopment plans and battles against gentrification. The wonderful photos from San Francisco Public Library show Mid-Market’s transformation over the last half of the 20th century, with the presence of now long-gone department stores, theaters, and shops.

The Regal Theater at 1046 Market St. Pinned by the SFPL to Year of the Bay.

We’ve mapped out these photos, and the SFPL asks that you help overlay them onto their modern-day locations and leave comments using our mystery-solving tools. Here are some quick tips:

  1. Go to yearofthebay.org and at the top right, log in with your Google, Facebook, or Twitter account. If you don’t have a Historypin account, create one for free!
  2. Back at www.yearofthebay.org, scroll down until you see the Mysteries Tab (default).
  3. On the left side, select Show me: Unsolved mysteries (also the default), and scroll down the list of Mid-Market mysteries (among others). If you want to see mysteries that other people have already commented on, tick Show Me: Under investigation on the left bar.
  4. Choose a photo from the list you want to help solve, and press Solve.
  5. Depending on what kind of mystery it is, the interface will prompt you to either enter a new date, find a new location, or overlay a photo onto Street View. Once you make your suggestion, you will be able to enter in why you’ve made the choice you have.
  6. That’s it!  Because this is a beta tool (which is to say we’re still working on it to make it better), if anything weird happens, feel free to comment on this blog post, or fill out this easy form to let us know what happened.

SFPL Mid-Market photographs, mapped out in Year of the Bay under the tag "mid-market." Click the image to explore the map.

Read The Bold Italic’s post featuring SFPL’s Mid-Market photos here, and visit the Year of the Bay project page to start overlaying the photos onto their modern-day locations and to leave comments. Don’t forget to share your mystery-solving skills with your friends!

Reflections on Putting Art on the Map

Over the last year we have been running Putting Art on the Map in partnership with the Imperial War Museum. With funding from the Nesta R&D Digital Innovation Fund we were able to test if crowdsourcing an art collection, in online and offline spaces, could generate deeper engagement with the collection. Through mystery-solving tools on Historypin and a series of live events with other institutional partners, we explored different ways of inviting the public to participate, collaborate and contribute new pieces of information to the artworks. The contributions fed into a co-curated Google Art Project by Dr Alice Strickland and the data gathered flowed back into IWMs’ collections.

Throughout the project there were strong examples of public contributions and evidence of deep engagement. However, the primary insight from by this project was that while metadata crowdsourcing in this form can deepen the social engagement of audiences that already have an interest in the subject or collection in question, it struggles to increase the initial breadth of engagement and does not show potential to engage new audiences.
In addition to this important distinction, we learned some key lessons about how to improve a crowdsouring project focusing on deepening engagement between interested audiences and an art collection:

  • Broad, open calls to action for people interested in First World War art were not effective in engaging a wider audience, while identifying specific communities of interest and requesting their help was more useful.
  • Inviting specific communities to engage their own existing networks was more effective in generating participation than trying to build a new community around a theme or topic
  • The ability to give clarity of purpose to participants in user-generated content projects is essential for their success, as is the need to explicitly value the expertise of users.
  • A high level of curatorial input from across different institutional departments, not just the art department, is important to ensure that the correct questions are being asked and participants feel their participation is genuinely needed and valued
  • Inviting factual contributions about an art collection is more challenging than other historical materials because of the role of artistic interpretation. This was often cited by participants who felt that it wasn’t possible or relevant to add factual details. Focusing on works which were more documentary in nature helped, but it was still a barrier to soliciting factual data.

Finally, the project raised new questions and highlighted several areas that need more research, experimentation and development to better understand them before effective tools, methods and outcomes can be determined. Of greatest interest to us is the relationship between online and offline participation. This offers great potential to increase and sustain engagement, but it is not yet clear how they relate in terms of participants moving between the two spaces, or with regard to if and how digital tools might be used during a live, group event. Over the coming year we will be continuing to explore these questions through other projects and iterating both our crowdsourcing toolset and methodologies for running collaborative, offline events.

We are compiling a full Research Report which we will post here once it is completed.

4 Major Efforts to Share European Cultural Heritage

This winter has seen a flurry of activity around a number of projects related to Europeana content, and the incredible work of partners across Europe helping to increase the discovery and reuse of European cultural heritage.  We’re excited to be involved in four major cross-European collaborative projects which are now underway.  And all of this is with a huge thanks to the Europeana Foundation team and the many many partners involved, for without their many years of groundbreaking work and diehard commitment to free and open access to culture, none of this would be possible.

Europeana Creative

We’ve talked about Europeana Creative before, and this project, now in its second year, is moving along full steam.  The Historypin team is primarily involved in creating the first prototype for the Social Networks pilot, which is one of five distinct pilot projects which will in turn lead to an Open Innovation Challenge for each category.  The first Challenge event will be taking place in Brussels on 29 April.  Our pilot will provide a new user interface to allow exploration, listening and enrichment of audio content from the Netherlands Institute of Sound and Vision and the British Library.

Europeana Creative has also just launched the Europeana Labs, which is a fantastic new way to explore and reuse the openly licensed content made available from cultural heritage institutions across Europe.

Breandán Knowlton, Digital Product Manager of We Are What We Do, who recently joined our team from the Europeana Foundation, explains the project together with some of the other project leaders and partners.

Europeana Sounds

Building off of our work in Europeana Creative, our role in Europeana Sounds is focused exclusively on using enrichment to increase access and reuse of the massive amounts of sound archives held in institutions across Europe.  The three year, €6.14m project brings together an incredible team of 24 project participants, including 8 national libraries, 5 archive and research centres, 2 other public bodies, 3 non-profit organizations, 3 universities, and 3 companies.  Together, we seek to meet the following objectives:

  • Increase the amount of audio content available via Europeana to over 1 million and improve geographical and thematic coverage by aggregating recordings with widespread popular appeal
  • Improve their access by enriching descriptions, developing techniques for cross-media and cross-collection linking
  • Develop audience-specific sound channels that will improve search facility, navigation and user experience
  • Promote the creative reuse of recordings 
  • Identify and advocate recommendations on how to resolve domain constraints and improve access to out of commerce audio content, working with music publishers and rights holders
  • Build a network of stakeholders: specialists in technology, rights issues, software development and sound archives. The network will expand to new content-providers and mainstream distribution platforms to ensure the widest possible availability.

Europeana Food and Drink

Focusing on the rich and vibrant food and drink culture and heritage across Europe, Europeana Food and Drink will engage the general public, creative industries, cultural heritage organisations and the food and drink industries in creating, sharing, learning and making use of food- and drink related content.

Historypin will focus on building links to diverse communities of interest while exploring unique ways that heritage assets can be reused to support community, business and tourism around our oldest and cherished communal pastimes of eating and drinking together.

The project brings together 28 partners from across 16 European countries and is led by the UK-based Collections Trust. Leading content providers, creative technologists and creative industry partners are working together in order to create an evocative suite of commercial applications and products featuring food- and drink related content catered to specific audiences.

Europeana Food and Drink will achieve its objectives by:

  • Discovering, preparing, licensing and uploading 50,000 – 70,000 unique high-quality digital assets and their associated metadata to Europeana
  • Engaging the general public, retailers and distributors in campaigns and in piloting and crowding activities to encourage them to share and make use of food- and drink related content
  • Working with creative industry partners to develop a suite of innovative creative and commercial applications
  • Enhancing unique ideas via Open Innovation Challenges and extending the Europeana Open Labs network
  • Developing and sharing new knowledge, understanding and guidance on successful public/private partnerships focused on digital cultural content.

Europeana 1989

Throughout 2014, community partners across Central and Eastern Europe will be gathering the stories and memories from 25 years ago, and the events surrounding the Fall of the Iron Curtain.  As the Europeana 1989 website so eloquently states, “The way history is recorded isn’t just about what museums and institutions think is important, it’s about what real people lived through and experienced.”

Share your own stories, or learn about some of the extraordinary stories have been shared, including a special focus now on the Baltic Way: the human chain spanning three countries.

Farewell to Wilma

We are very sad to say good bye to our lovely intern Wilma who has been brilliant and a huge help with our pinning needs over the last few months. Thanks Wilma!

Name: Wilma Stefani

Role: Historypin Intern

Why did you want to intern at Historypin?
As an archaeologist and videographer, I am interested in exploring ways of communicating historical themes to the general public, and I discovered Historypin during my MA in Digital Humanities: I thought this project was brilliant in giving people the opportunity to share their pictures and stories online, and I was interested in how they were using social media to achieve that.

How did you come to hear of the project?
My supervisor at King’s College. Dr. Stuart Dunn, suggested me to apply for an internship at Historypin, as it could be interesting as a case study for my dissertation, which aims at analysing users’ comments and responses to historical themes shared in online platforms.

Describe an average day for you as a Historypin Intern
Beside general tasks such as choosing the Pin of the Day and helping in organising images and videos uploaded by users, most of the time I was following a particular project, Putting Art on the Map, a project which invites the public to solve mysteries about the collection of paintings held at the Imperial War Museum. I’ve been creating some of the mysteries and collating and publishing the answers provided by the participants to the live events organised by Rebekkah and Alex, as well as keeping at the same time track of the content posted through social media.
What do you do when you’re not at Historypin?
I love Art in all its forms…films, music, dance, figurative arts, and London offers so much in terms of cultural events. When I have a day off I like visiting museums and going to the theatre.

What’s been your best moment here?
I had the opportunity to take part in a live event at the Gordon Museum, where some medical professionals provided information about a selection of IWM paintings with a medical subject. I was amazed by the engagement of the participants, they analysed the paintings discussing in group and they came out with some great responses.

What is the oddest job you’ve been asked to do in the name of Historypin?
Nothing really odd, but I may have developed new deciphering skills, as while transcribing the comments written by participants to the live events, I was trying to understand the sometime illegible calligraphy of some of them…!


What excites you the most about Historypin?
I think that the opportunity to pin the photos on the Street View is an excellent idea, visually intriguing and fun to do.

Can you show us a photo you have personally pinned on Historypin?
Not a photo but a painting, ”Con: Camp’ – Genoa’ by Olive Mudie-Cooke, from the IWM collection. It was exciting to discover that this corner of Genoa has barely changed since 1919: and also to find so many paintings depicting Italian landscapes, including some near my hometown, in the north of Italy. Now I’ll have to go to see them at the museum!

"'Con: Camp' - Genoa' by Olive Mudie-Cooke, shared by IWM

What’s your favourite photo that has been pinned to the Historypin map and why?I chose this photo as Pin of The Day, and I love it because I think it shows so well the contrasts and liveness of London, in the 60s as well as nowadays.

Carnaby Street, 1960, shared by robertloch

What kind of content would you like to see more of on Historypin?
I would be very happy to see more videos uploaded, especially black and white footage from the old days.

Why do you think people should add their photos and stories to Historypin?
I think one can see the intersection between family and national stories as something we all have in common as human beings and citizens. Historypin offers an online space where anyone can participate, making them appreciate the history and culture of the place where they live.

What do you think the future of Historypin is?
It would be great to see the project developing also in new countries: I think Historypin has a great potential in connecting people from different generations and backgrounds, and can also be increasingly used in schools to engage students with their past.

Contact:  wilmastefani.wordpress.com

wilmastefani@gmail.com

My Day of DH with some of the Historypin Team

This is a cross-post from the Day of DH 2014 events on April 8, 2014.

Day of DH is an open community publication project that brings together scholars interested in the digital humanities from around the world to document what they do on one day, April 8th, answering the question, “Just what do digital humanists really do?”

The April 8, 2014 Pin of the Day on Historypin, from the Sourdough & Rye Project

The April 8, 2014 Pin of the Day on Historypin, from the Sourdough & Rye Project

I guess I close the timezones for the Historypin team on our Day of DH, which has seen our team busy around the globe today. Started early for me after midnight last night as I was up late doing  research on how the OpenGLAM community is using or can use git as a tool to collaboratively track changes and edits to open datasets.  From a community perspective, it’s a pretty fascinating look at how the dream of the Web can support collaboration free from corporate “walled gardens.”  The reason I’ve been looking at this example is thanks to the folks at Indiana University who recently shared the metadata for the Cushman Collection on github, which we’re working to start zooming in on lat/longs for sharing on Historypin, and want to make sure we do so in a way that adds to the data and potential reuse  and scholarship.  If you’re unfamiliar with this collection,  you’ve got to check it out!

These are the kinds of rabbit holes we fall into regularly in our work at Historypin–helping people discover and share amazing treasures taking us back in time.  While I slept, dreaming of csv files, the team in London and Bulgaria were busy at work on a number of projects.  Breandán was busy in Brussels with the Europeana Creative project, one of four major collaborative projects we’re working on in support of Europeana.

As my morning usually begins in SF, I caught up with the team in Europe first thing.  Breandán and I and a few others in the office were coordinating reporting processes for these projects, which, as you can imagine, can be pretty complex with the numbers of partners involved.  Then popping into the London office via Google Hangout or chat, where our Senior Designer, Kate was putting the finishing touches on mockups for one of our partner projects, the Stanford-led and Mellon-funded Crowdsourcing for Humanities Research.   A quick check-in with Rebekkah Abraham, our amazing Historypin Director of Operations, as we are in the midst of a flurry of Project releases at the moment, including East at Main Street, which launched last week.

From there it was on to DC for a planning meeting and then another soon-to-be-announced project.  Today these meetings included some DPLA searches to find indications for possible content partners for one of the projects. It’s amazing to have an ever-growing number of resources at our fingertips to aid the discovery and reuse of cultural heritage content.

The afternoon is catchup on email (since I was out all last week, still plenty of triage happening), and long overdue blog posts.  By the end of the day, I often move my attention over to partners in Australia and New Zealand, who are already starting their tomorrow. Today I got a pictorial walkthrough of an exhibit just closing outside of Melbourne, Australia, for which we worked with the Yarra Ranges Regional Museum to create a pinning station and touchscreen display to highlight their outreach to communities surrounding historical main streets of the area.

Changing Places, a Yarra Ranges Project on Historypin complementing their exhibit.

Changing Places, a Yarra Ranges Project on Historypin complementing their exhibit.

And that wraps up another whirlwind day (at least until kids are fed, scotch is sipped, and Harry Potter read, then probably a bit more). As always, feeling very fortunate to work with so many smart, passionate people working to share stories and build community around our shared and often unknown past.