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.

Historypin, the US National Archives, and Fury

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

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

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

rio-yard-green.jpg

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

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

Suffolk University Offers Free Online History of Boston Class Utilizing Historypin

Registration is now open for Suffolk University’s first free online course, The History of Boston. The course will engage Bostonians, tourists, history buffs and students worldwide with the Boston events and people that brought the spark of democracy to the world. The course is available beginning Oct. 20, 2014 and is free and open to the general public.

The course explores Boston from the 1600’s to the present day. Learn about the Massachusett Indians who lived there before the Puritans arrived. Discover how these settlers created a system of self government so strong that Boston became the most democratic community on the planet and the birthplace of the American Revolutionary War. Trace the city’s role in the American anti-slavery movement and the Civil War.

The course includes a virtual tour of Boston, featuring many of the city’s best known landmarks and sites like the Freedom Trail, USS Constitution, State House, Harbor Islands, Waterworks Museum, Lowell Mills, Old North Church, Kings Chapel, Boston Common, Faneuil Hall, the Esplanade, African Meeting House and more. It also features interviews with many of Boston’s most fascinating activists, artists, scholars and politicians that provide perspective on Boston’s influence on culture and politics.

“There’s no reason that learning can’t be fun, and we created an interactive, fact-filled course that will attract a wide range of people – from out-of-town students beginning their studies in Boston, to tourists visiting the city, and to business people coming into town for conferences and meetings,” said David Kusek of Digital Cowboys, who produced the online course for Suffolk University.

Registration: https://www.canvas.net/courses/history-of-boston

Detailed course information: http://historyofboston.org/

Memories of Migration Project to launch in 2015

We’re excited to announce that Historypin has teamed up with the Santa Ana Public Library to launch the Memories of Migration project, with support from the Institute for Museum and Library Services through the award of a $495,000 National Leadership Grant.

The three year project will be led by the Santa Ana Public Library and provide innovative programs for teens to focus on community memory and the many diverse stories of human migration over time.  The project builds on their successful Teen Historian program, which combines web and new media training with storytelling.

Teen Historians at Santa Ana Public Library recording interviews of Mexican American veterans.

Memories of Migration compliments and celebrates the vital role that libraries play in the lives of new immigrant families and will serve public libraries with meaningful programs and enrichment activities that meet the following goals:

  • provide new immigrant communities a participatory voice in library collections and events
  • increase digital literacy and provide learning in Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM) to new immigrant teens and young adults through digital training in new media and digitization technologies
  • strengthen libraries as anchors of intergenerational and intercultural dialogue on both a local and national level.

Techniques developed by the Santa Ana Public Library will be tested and enhanced in model programs operated by four partner libraries and agencies that serve new immigrant communities across the country.  Queens Library (Queens, NY), West Hartford Public Library, (West Hartford, CT), the State of New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs and New Mexico Highlands University (Las Vegas, NM) have also developed innovative youth engagement and public memory projects and will join our team to develop and expand the program, addressing the needs of their diverse communities in a mixture of urban, suburban and rural settings.

An additional partner in the progam, Project GADO, will provide teens training in the use of scanning robots that will facilitate the digitization of the histories, while another, Orange County Reforma, will organize a local conference on Latino history to kick off the information collection process.

The Memories of Migration public launch is scheduled for the summer of 2015.  For further information about the project, please contact Jon Voss, Strategic Partnership Director at Historypin, or Cheryl Eberly, Principal Librarian, Young Adult Services at Santa Ana Public Library.

Tagging Embeds: The Manhattan Project

One of the things I’m realizing we need to do more of is use the blog to highlight the many different ways people are using Historypin to highlight their work, research and community engagement. I don’t think a lot of people know that you can embed your Historypin content into other sites, highlighting your content with the full functionality of your Historypin Profile, and embedded with a simple code snippet (which you can see in your settings on the top right, “link with my sites,” when you’re logged into your Historypin account, see image inline).  So if you already have a website with lots of mappable content about the history of a local community for instance, you can share it on Historypin and enhance your own website to boot!

While it was released over a year ago, I think this is a great example of an embed employed by a website examining some of the stories surrounding the Manhattan Project:

 How much does it cost for this incredible service, you ask?  Nothing.  It’s free, and part of what we provide as part of our mission to help build community around local history.  Let us know if you have questions about it in the comments below, or join our Google Group to discuss it with other community leaders.

Great Historypin Resource for Teachers

Thanks to Wade Gegan and the team at Fractus Learning, Historypin has been featured as part of their Bitesize PD (professional development) series.  The short article does a great job condensing the essential elements of Historypin and how it might be used by teachers in a wide variety of settings.

After a brief overview of the site, they go into some practical applications and pull in some our various resources for teachers and classrooms, as well as examples of how Historypin has been used in various settings.  Click through to the full article below.

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.