Sandy: one year later

Photo and caption shared by Folklorist: "In the Town of Hempstead on Long Island there once stood approximately 34 bay houses like this one. All but 14 were destroyed by Sandy including this one."

Oct. 29 marks the one year anniversary since Hurricane Sandy made landfall, and while much of the debris has been cleared, there remains so much work to be done in the physical and emotional rebuilding of the loss and destruction.

We welcome you to participate in Hurricane Sandy: Record, Remember, and Rebuild, which provides a place to share photos, video, or audio that capture areas effected by the storm. The project has been created in partnership with Google, the Metropolitan New York Library Council, the Society of American Archivists, and the American Association for State and Local History.

As an example of some of the content being shared, see recent photos like the one featured above from Long Island Traditions, which document the Bay Houses near the town of Hempstead, most of which were lost to Sandy.

Share your own photos and memories, and help track the recovery and rebuilding in your own neighborhood.

Putting Art on the Map: the story so far

We have been busy bees working on the Putting Art On the Map project. We’ve been collecting lots of answers to questions about the brilliant artworks from the Imperial War Museums‘ First world war art collection. All of the works we have focused on have a thread compiled on our Historypin Storify channel. Keep an eye on this for more stories.

Below is a Storify of a brilliant painting by Anna Airy called  A Shell Forge at a National Projectile Factory. Where was this factory and what are the shells they are making? Take a read to find out.

 

Even more Historypin Storify!

Here are the links to all the other works that we have been exploring since the project launched at the beginning of August. Click on the links and have a read.

7 August 2013 Paul Nash The Ypres Salient at night

9 August 2013 Stanley Spencer Travoys Arriving with Wounded at a Dressing-Station at Smol, Macedonia

12 August 2013 Henry Lamb, Irish Troops in the Judaean Hills Surprised By A Turkish Bombardment

16 August 2013 John Nash Over the Top


23 August 2013 Flora Lion Women’s Canteen at Phoenix Works, Bradford


27-30 August 2013 Anna Airy A Shell Forge at a National Projectile Factory


2-6 September 2013 Bernard Meninsky Victoria Station, District Railway


9-13 September 2013 Henry Tonks An Advanced Dressing Station in France

 

#ArtMap: Going Over the Top

Putting Art on the Map is one month in. The aim of the project: to curate, locate and enrich hundreds of artworks from the Imperial War Museums’ First World War collection.

Although many of the images are well known, there remain many unanswered questions. To help fill in the blanks we’ve been sharing artworks, selected by our guest art curator Alice Strickland, on Facebook, Twitter and Google + to see if people can help solve these mysteries.

We’ve had some great response from users on Facebook, Twitter and Google+,  my favourite has been the detective work around John Nash’s Over the Top: 1st Artists’ Rifles at Marcoing

John Nash Over the Top

John Nash’s Over the Top: 1st Artists' Rifles at Marcoing

This is a painting that has become synonymous with the First World War. The work depicts the 1st Battalion Artists Rifles leaving their trench on the Welsh Ridge, going over the top, and pushing towards Marcoing near Cambra on the 30th December 1917.

This action was a disaster and of the eighty men that emerged from the trench, sixty-eight were killed or wounded during the first few minutes. John Nash not only commemorated this action action in this painting commissioned by Ministry of Information, he was the Official War Artist assigned to the regiment and he took part in this infamous attack.

We were keen to find out:

  • the exact place of fighting along the Welsh Ridge
  • which direction the soldiers are marching in

Pieces of the puzzle were provided by people on Facebook (F), Twitter (T) and Google+ – (G), and here’s the story …

Maximilian Massauer (F) suggested that this map of the Cambrai area and the shifting location of the front line could help, adding that Marcoing is SW from Cambrai, not SE as we had suggested. @TheWildHog (T) suggesting the same brilliant map as Maximilian Massauer above. He suggested that as the 1st Artists’ Rifles moved to take Bonavis, we can argue they moved in an easterly direction from the trenches.

Annette Burgoyne  (F) added a map of the Welsh Ridge to the conversation. This particular map shows us the very location of the Welsh Ridge on the 30-31 August 1917, precisely when this action was taking place.

Tim Fox-Godden (F) posted this composite image of the first trench map superimposed over Google Earth with the location of the 1st Artists’ Rifels as recorded in war diaries marked with the red arrow.

Tim followed this up with a spectacular photograph of a postcard of the painting being held roughly where 1st Artists’ Rifles would have attacked. He said “The snow on the ground that only fell on the morning I decided to find the location of the painting was one of the twists of fate that trips to the former Western Front seem to deliver.”

Tim kindly ghosted the painting onto the photograph of the location producing this eerie merge of painting and photograph.

We asked Tim to locate where the latitude and longitude of where he had taken the image and he came back to use with 50.095903, 3.164985 adding ”More specifically, this is the approximate location of the end of Central Avenue Trench, from where the attack took place.”

Brilliant, we now had the exact location of the painting, so we moved the location on Historypin to the correct place. But, as if it was not enough to have both of our answers completed and in the bag, Patrick Baty (F) posted a photograph of two modern members of The Artists’ Rifles who visited the site to lay poppies on the spot to commemorate those fallen.

 

The Cherry was put on the cake by @fleetfootmike (T) posing this brilliant thread from the @GreatWarForum http://ow.ly/oaJEB. It explores in depth the actions that took place, even quoting the official report. The forum points the reader to a book by Barrie Pitt 1918: The Last Act that gives an account of the action that took place on the morning of the 30th – certainly one I’m going to be looking up.

A big thank you to everyone who helped piece this fascinating narrative together. From all of these conversations we have managed to build, not only a picture of the actual location of the action that John Nash took part in and commemorated with this painting, but also the remembrance that people are paying to the event and the site today. This example also highlights some of the creative ways in which people approach the mapping of battlefields and military actions.

We’re looking forward to seeing more of these amazing finds as we continue to open up the collection.

You can find all of our Pinning Art to the Map mysteries to date by looking for the hashtag #ArtMap. Watch this space for full Storify reports on each artwork. And if you want to see the other paintings that people have been talking about, you can see them here:

Incorporating Historypin Into College Coursework

After seeing a tweet about how students at Slippery Rock University teamed up with Lawrence County Historical Society to add some amazing content to Historypin, we asked Dr. Aaron Cowan to tell us more. Dr. Cowan is a historian and assistant professor of History at this mid-sized state university in western Pennsylvania, where he teaches modern US, urban, and public history.

Why did you choose Historypin for this particular project?

The Historypin project was a part of my Introduction to Public History undergraduate course; the class partnered with the Lawrence County Historical Society (LCHS) in nearby New Castle, PA to select, research, and upload historical images to Historypin.  Students worked in groups of 3, with each group member performing specific roles

Historypin seemed like the ideal platform to allow undergraduates to understand the potential of digital history, and create a presentable public history project, without the technology “getting in the way” – within the confines of a 15-week academic term, they needed to focus on historical research, not learning the intricacies of Javascript or how to work with GoogleEarth databases.   I’m also fascinated by the potential for location-based digital history for increasing community engagement, so again – Historypin was a great fit!

A photo of my students "in action" - selecting images from the archives of the historical society back in March. We set up 24 computer stations one Saturday and worked all day in their digital images – it was a fun time!

What were some of the things that worked well?

The project was great for teaching students research skills; even some of our History majors found local history research to be a new challenge – rather different than writing a standard term paper where they could pull some books and journal articles from the library and synthesize those into an essay.  One advantage we had is that the city’s main newspaper has been digitized and available through NewspaperArchive; keyword searching is a wonderful thing!  Hard to believe students may never know the tedious experience of scrolling through microfilm…

Students took a good deal of ownership with the project; they were very enthusiastic about the fact that their research was going to be publicly presented & not simply submitted to the professor.  Reflecting on the project, one student commented, “For the first time in my four years as a history major, I felt like a historian and not just a history student.”

Another reflected, “The Historypin project was my favorite project I have ever completed in college because it showed me just how much work a public historian truly does. Public historians conduct a great deal of research, which is not always easy. Sometimes, they must do some digging to find that missing element that brings the whole project together…the experience also showed our group just how much collaboration needs to be done for the end result to be successful.”

What didn’t work well, or what would you change if you did this again?

In the future, I’ll allow more time for the students’ research – several simply underestimated the difficulty of the research, and hit roadblocks.  I’ll also spend more time educating them on resources for local history (city directories, insurance maps, etc.) and connecting them to the local history/genealogy staff at the city library.  On a related note, I would probably assign fewer images (initially, each student was assigned 5) to allow them more time.

Do you think this is a replicable model? It seems like there are so many small historical societies and the like that we could help get online…

I think it’s very replicable; my hope is to continue the project each year – either with this historical society or others in the area.  One advantage for this project is that the LCHS had already digitized their entire collection, so students didn’t have to sift through disorganized prints and then worry about proper scanning resolution, format, size, etc. – though of course a project involving those tasks would also teach valuable skills!

LCHS, like most of the county historical societies in our area, is understaffed and underfunded, even though their historical resources are amazing.  They need to create greater community investment and engagement, and to connect with younger audiences.  Hopefully the Historypin project provides a way for them to begin doing just that.

Clear guidelines and expectations are essential (and I’d be happy to share mine – anyone interested can email me at aaron.cowan@sru.edu).

What were some favorite/interesting pieces of content that came from the project?

The photo of a 1925 KKK picnic in the city’s park caused quite a stir among the students; New Castle – and western Pennsylvania generally – had a strong contingent of the 1920s Klan because of nativist fears of Catholic “new immigrants” drawn to jobs in the region’s steel and ancillary industries.  Another unusual find was a photo of a 1976 bank robbery in progress (pulled from bank security cameras).

On a lighter note, a 1912 photo circus parade of elephants marching through downtown was a fun addition.

Were there any surprise social outcomes of this? 

I had hoped social connections between community residents and students would be a more prominent part of the project, but it did not materialize.  I think in part this is attributable to students’ hesitancy to use methods like interviews to conduct their research, in favor of online or library research. It might have been strengthened if the project had directly involved the community in some sort of workshop or public forum.

I was proud of the fact that this project brought attention to some stories – in this case, particularly African-American history – that don’t always get a lot of attention in the “official” local histories.

An oral history segment recorded by one of the students.

What kinds of history mysteries keep you up at night/wake you up in the morning?

I don’t know if specific mysteries come to mind, but I’m constantly surprised by the layers and complexity of local history – that even in small towns where everyone assumes “nothing happened” there are stories of conflict, activism, and linkages to the broader current of national and world history.  I’m very much motivated by fragments of evidence that hint at holes – what historian Michel-Rolph Trouillot has called “silences” – in the popular narrative of local history; these kinds of stories can often be empowering for people, or provide a model for a path forward to a better future.  To me, that’s the real purpose of history.

Update: You can find more of Dr. Cowan’s thoughts on this class on his blog

Our Year of the Bay Hackathon at the California Historical Society

Participants listen to Richard Everett of SF Maritime National Park in the California Historical Society gallery.

On May 23rd, Historypin hosted an evening hackathon at the California Historical Society in San Francisco as part of our Year of the Bay project. The event, in partnership with Pastmapper, explored historic photographs of businesses along the San Francisco waterfront from the SFTMA Photo Archives, the California Historical Society, SF Public Library, and SF Maritime National Park.

One of the photographs we explored during the evening, taken from the foot of Market Street c1910. From the California Historical Society.

What is a hackathon? It’s when a bunch of people get together to use a variety of tools (often technological ones) to solve problems. With this event, we aimed at contributing better historical information and resources that aid in the discovery of historical data. We asked visitors to bring laptops, books, and other materials that they could use for research during the night. The library at the California Historical Society even shared their historic collection of San Francisco City Directories as an available resource.

Participants, including Bradley Thompson of Pastmapper (center), help to research historical information behind photos on their devices brought from home.

A group of about 50 worked collaboratively around a handful of photos to see if we could solve some mysteries within them; dates, locations, business information, etc. Participants liked how they could come and not only consume information, but contribute to the conversation. Assigning tasks, collaborating on finding citations, and having hi-res versions of the images readily available to zoom in on were some of the things we were able to adjust and experiment with to best collect data. In addition to looking at the social aspect of collecting information in an event setting, experiments like this hackathon are also serving to inform Historypin user interface development online for capturing and discussing historical metadata in fun and meaningful ways.

With this hackathon and other Year of the Bay community events, we’re exploring how local historical and heritage institutions can involve their audiences and communities more by inviting collaboration around their historical content.  This is a chance for like-minded people to come together and discuss local Bay history, with the extra incentive of being able to contribute information to under-researched photographs from local history collections.

Jon Voss and Bradley Thompson introducing our hackathon event at the California Historical Society.

Executive Director of the California Historical Society Anthea Hartig joining in as a "hacker"and helping to research old photos of SF waterfront businesses.

To add your own suggestions and comments to the photographs we looked at during the event, follow this link to the tagged pins on the Year of the Bay map. With events like these and with your help, we can enrich the collections of some great local Bay Area institutions and share our findings with the wider online community.

Historypin at the Opening of Curating the Bay in San Francisco

Visitors learning about Historypin at our California Historical Society pinning station.

We are pleased to report that this week, our joint crowdsourcing project with Stanford University, Year of the Bay, became a part of an exciting new museum exhibition in San Francisco. The exhibit, called Curating the Bay: Crowdsourcing a New Environmental History, is a collaboration with the California Historical Society (CHS) to open their collections to the public in a new and interactive way.

Museums and archives alike always aspire to having a completed history of a certain topic, and in Curating the Bay the CHS takes a leap into uncharted territory by asking visitors to fill in the blanks rather than presenting them with a finished narrative. Many of the photographs, paintings, and documents in their collections still contain historical mysteries, and the exhibition invites the public to help solve them as well as to contribute their own stories and materials.

This is where Historypin comes in.  Excitingly, we have set up a pinning station within the CHS’s exhibition, so visitors can scan and add their materials into the Year of the Bay project while they are there. And since the project is at yearofthebay.org, visitors not only from the Bay Area but from all over the world can contribute to the history of San Francisco Bay.

California Historical Society docents learning about Historypin at our pinning station

Up close at our pinning station.

A huge number of people came out in support of the exhibit during its opening this past Sunday, April 7. With music, food, drinks, and good conversation, many visitors expressed excitement at the prospect of contributing to history.

Lots of visitors arriving to the evening opening

One of my favorite parts of the exhibition is a touchscreen display of the Year of the Bay website that we created just for exhibits (pictured below).

A close-up of the custom-made interface of our Year of the Bay touchscreen.

And with great visual flair, the CHS has surrounded the touchscreen display with an analog version of the map of the Bay Area directly behind the touchscreen, complete with pins! As the exhibition continues, they will add visitor contributions to the wall along with their own “pins.” Fantastic!

The wall of San Francisco Bay pins that will be added with visitor contributions during the course of the exhibition.

Visitors exploring the wall and touchscreen during the opening.

With this exhibition and the outreach activities surrounding it, we hope to help create a richer and more diverse history of the San Francisco Bay. Since the opening, we have already received many wonderful contributions to yearofthebay.org from all over the world. If you are in the Bay Area from now until August 25th, come on down to the exhibition and try your hand at solving some historical mysteries, or follow along online as we tweet about them weekly.

One of the many mystery items in our Curating the Bay exhibit. Can you help us learn more about it?

And finally, videos and pictures are sometimes worth more than words, so here is a short video Historypin has made to explain our exciting new Year of the Bay project. Take a look!

All new Historypin!

We are proud to launch a brand new Historypin!

After months of researching, planning, designing, testing and building we are ready to share with you all a major new redesign which, we hope, shows off all your content in the best possible light and gives you lots of new features to enjoy.

The all new homepage now has a Pin of the Day gallery, so the winning images of this prestigious award can be easily seen by all. You can also look back through past winners. Upload your best images to be in for a chance of featuring here.

We also have a brand new totaliser, the arrival of which is well timed as we have just reached 200,000 materials shared on Historypin. Thankyou to every one of you that has contributed to this figure.

You can now see every item added to Historypin in the new Activity Feed, which shows what you are all doing on the site, be it adding photos, videos and audio clips, favoriting other people’s contributions, adding comments, creating Tours and Collections or adding items to Projects.

Projects are also a new feature. They bring together content around certain themes. We now have several projects including Year of the bayRemember how we used to… and My Grandparents are better than yours for you to explore, add to and comment on.

Loads of work has gone into tidying things up, beautifying and simplifying the user experience and interface, plus there has been lots of techy work finding solutions to difficult problems behind the scenes. A massive thankyou and congratulations is due to the creative and digital teams - check out their faces here.

Remember how we used to…

Daily Herald circulation department, 11th May 1935, shared by National Media Museum

Remember how we used to work, play, watch and listen, cook and clean, keep warm and celebrate?

We are excited to announce a brand new project that looks back at how energy has changed the way we do everything things over the last century and are looking for your contributions.

Almost everything we do, from making breakfast to going to work, is very different to how our grandparents did it.

In 1952, when Queen Elizabeth II took the throne, only one in five households had a washing machine, one in ten a telephone, one in twenty a fridge. Almost nobody had central heating. Fewer than half of all households had a television and less than one in five households had a car.

Children listening to talking books, 1953, shared by Mirrorpix

Over the last 60 years children have changed the way they play, workplaces have changed the way they look, and we have shifted our tastes in the music we listen to and the clothes we wear.

So if you’ve got a photo of your parents watching retro TVs, or your granddad working in an office for example, add it in!

Girls listening to the Ruffler and Walker jukebox, 1964, shared by Mirrorpix

The project was created in partnership npower and Mirrorpix and aims to collate over 5,000 photos, videos, audio clips and stories around this theme from across the UK by Spring 2013. To help do this we’ll be running workshops and memory bank sessions with a selection of schools, care homes and retired npower employees to gather old photos and memories.

Explore this archive of amazing photos and add yours here.