About Jon Voss

Jon Voss is the Historypin Strategic Partnerships Director. Together with global collaborators and the Historypin team, he’s helping to build an open ecosystem of historical data across libraries, archives, and museums worldwide. His innovative work at the intersection of technology and cultural memory is also getting him closer to his childhood dream of perfecting time travel.

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!

Share your Places that Matter with National Trust of Australia

Woodbridge, shared by National Trust of Australia (WA)

The following post is from our partners at the National Trust of Australia, who have launched This Place Matters Australia.

About the Project: This Place Matters Australia…

This place where you lived, had your baby, saw a gig, met for lunch or fell in love.

This Place Matters.

If it matters to you, it matters to us.  Share your stories, photos, videos and audio clips and help the National Trust celebrate the places that matter.

So pin the places that matter – your houses, gardens, shops, orchards, markets, landscapes, stations and schools and have a look at what matters to us all.

All members of the community are invited to pin their stories, photos, videos and audio clips of places that matter to them.  As long as the place currently exists, we want any information on why it matters.  Anything matters to us if it does to you – it can be because you grew up there, were kissed for the first time there, or just believe the place is important historically or culturally.

How to pin your Places That Matter…

So, pin your place through the This Place Matters Australia project and in the photo/video/audio description tell us:

‘This Place Matters because…’

View our ‘how-to’ open an account and pin to projects guides below or download here.

About History Mysteries…

These Places Matter but we need some help finding out why.  Is it because of who lived here or what happened here? See if you can answer our questions and share these fascinating stories with everyone. Just view the History Mysteries on the This Place Matters Australia project.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Introducing East at Main Street

With the East at Main Street project, you can learn more about the historic places and cultural resources that have played a central role to Asian and Pacific Islander American communities throughout the United States, and find out how you and your community can add places to the map as well.

Below, you’ll find some short video tutorials to get you started, and we’ve also made available a helpful Getting Started Guide (pdf).

This project has been made possible by the Asian & Pacific Islander Americans in Historic Preservation Network, the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and Donna Graves and Michelle Magalong.

Historypin is back in Austin!

Going to be in Austin next week? So are we! We’re back at SXSW with an exciting global panel entitled 100 Years of Oversharing: Tools for Time Travel, happening March 10 at 12:30pm in the Convention Center.

And if that’s not enough, we helped put together a roundtable of amazing dreamers and doers from around the world which is free and open to the public at the #IdeaDrop House. The panel was called Backporch Beers Roundtable: Mashup Culture, made possible by E-Resources and Libraries (ER&L), ProQuest and the Digital Library Federation (DLF).  The conversation was hosted by Historypin’s Jon Voss and Rachel Frick of the Digital Library Federation.  

Don’t worry, this isn’t actually an hour and a half long, we broke it into two 30 minute sessions with a 20 minute break in between since we couldn’t fit everyone on the couch. Group one considered copyright and examples that push the boundaries in GLAMs and included Keir Winesmith, Head of Web and Digital Projects, SFMOMA; Molly Jacobs, Web Producer, American Experience/PBS; Heather Champ, Community & Content, Findery; and Richard Vijgen, Information Designer.

Group 2 starts at about 46 minutes into the recording and explores some global examples of creative reuses of library and museum spaces and content. This group featured Daniel Flood, Creative Production Manager, The Edge, State Library of Queensland; Johan Oomen, Manager R&D, Netherlands Institute of Sound & Vision; Kathryn Jaller, New Media Manager, Contemporary Jewish Museum; and Joe Voss, Senior Counsel, Clark Hill PLC.

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.

Spending Australia Day with the Royal Australian Historical Society

Australia day is celebrated on 26th January, and we took the occasion to ask a few questions of the folks at the Royal Australian Historical Society (RAHS), who recently joined Historypin.  We fully intend to take them up on their offer of tea the next time we’re in Sydney, and hope you do too!

Stepping to Health in 1938, shared by the Royal Australian Historical Society

Can you tell us a little bit about the RAHS and its history?

The RAHS is a voluntary organisation that exists to encourage the study of and interest in Australian history. It provides opportunities for people to engage with Australian history in a number of different ways: participating in historical research; attending lectures, discussions, tours, conferences and workshops; enjoying RAHS publications; using the RAHS library and online resources. The Society was founded in 1901 at a time when history in Australia was very British in origin and focus. RAHS members were at the forefront of promoting all aspects of Australia’s past including Aboriginal, colonial, convict and migrant experiences. In 1906 the Society began to publish the Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society (JRAHS), now the longest established journal on Australian history. The RAHS continues to build on its pioneering origins to reflect the changing ways in which we can engage with the past. However we do like to honour old traditions. So if people are visiting Sydney, they are more than welcome to drop into History House, home of the RAHS, and have a cup of tea.

Why did you choose Historypin as a platform to share some of your collections, and how does it fit into RAHS strategy?

The founding members of the RAHS believed that it was critical to establish photographic collections that captured Australia’s history. Their focus in 1901 was on preserving images of buildings that were to be demolished by Sydney City Council. By 1917 the Society’s glass slide collection was established, with the donation of 180 slides by James Watson, the Society’s Honorary Secretary. Many of the slides in this collection were used by members to illustrate lectures and were also reproduced in the JRAHS. Historypin is therefore an ideal platform for the RAHS since it continues this tradition of openness and accessibility to images that help us understand the changing nature of the spaces in which we live and work.

Tell us a bit about the collections you’re featuring and how you chose them.

We have been featuring images from the RAHS photographic collection that includes over 20,000 original glass and film negatives, slides and prints. The way in which the RAHS approaches its selection of images and collections for inclusion on Historypin is largely based on what the RAHS is engaged with at a particular time. Our initial focus has been on images taken and collected by former president of the RAHS, Frank Walker (1861 – 1948). Walker cycled almost 35,000 kilometres around New South Wales taking thousands of images on glass plate negatives. In 1913, Walker was President of the RAHS in the centenary year of the first crossing of the Blue Mountains by European explorers. In 2013 we featured images Walker captured during the centenary celebrations, including glass slides and cuttings from the scrapbooks he compiled. In 2014 the RAHS will be looking to have collections connected to what happened after Europeans crossed the mountains, in particular the impact of European inland settlement of New South Wales.

Do you have a favorite image on Historypin from your collection? 

The RAHS is currently putting together a collection that explores the way in which Australians celebrated the Sesquicentenary of European settlement in 1938, and of the various meanings attributed to Australia’s national day. This collection will act as a fitting lead up to Australia Day 2014, when the RAHS will open the doors of its beautiful heritage building ‘History House’ to the public and will host talks on Australian history by its own historians. Our favourite image at the moment shows the ‘Peter’s Ice Cream’ float on parade on Australia Day 1938 (above). The detail and workmanship of the float in the image illustrates the enthusiasm with which Australians took to celebrating its national day. We also like the fact that eating ice cream meant ‘ stepping to health’ in 1938.

For those of us not familiar, what is Australia Day and how do people celebrate it?

Australia Day, the 26th January, marks the anniversary of the arrival of the British First Fleet in 1788. Modern Australia is a nation of diversity and the way in which it is celebrated and commemorated has evolved over time. It wasn’t until 1935 that all the Australian states and territories started to even use the term ‘Australia Day’ to mark the arrival of the First Fleet. In 2014 Australia Day is celebrated with community festivals, concerts and citizenship ceremonies, in many communities and cities around the country. However it is not just a day of celebration, but one of commemoration. Members of the Indigenous community have regarded it as a day of British invasion, and subsequently a major turning point in the history of the Australian Aboriginal community. The 1938 sesquicentenary was, therefore, commemorated by some as a Day of Mourning.

More information on the history of Australia Day and the 2014 activities can be found at http://www.australiaday.org.au/.

 

Does your organization have something you’d like to share with readers of the Historypin blog, an anniversary or special new collection shared on Historypin?  Let us know as we’d love to feature it!