Final Digital Project – Historypin & the Silver Spring Historical Society

For my digital project, I worked with the Silver Spring Historical Society to upload content to the website Historypin. The SSHS is dedicated to preserving the history of Silver Spring, Maryland. I was excited for the opportunity to increase its presence on the web. As I found out, Historypin offers innovative ways for the public to engage with history in a digital format. Here is the link and a screen shot of the channel I created:

What I like about Historypin is the level of interactivity and engagement the site offers. The way it works, users can “pin” content to a Google map, mostly photos, but also audio and video clips. Museums, Archives, and historical societies create channels where visitors can view all the content pinned by the organization. Each channel can create collections of their pins and walking tours for the public to use. Any person can take repeat photographs to replicate the pinned historical pictures. I experimented with all of these features in the SSHS channel. Historypin also has a mobile application that allows you to see what is pinned wherever you are in the world. The developers of Historypin are actively promoting the site and continuing its development.

A sample streetview overlaid with a historic photograph - Silver Spring Masonic Temple, Georgia Avenue, constructed 1927

I enjoyed working with a local historical society for this project. The Silver Spring Historical Society was very receptive to my project, and scanned the images that I pinned. The SSHS was excited for the opportunity to provide more of its content online to engage the public. In creating the channel, I had contact with the administrators of Historypin who were very helpful in resolving technical difficulties I encountered. Overall I enjoyed the experience of completing the digital project.

The difficulties I encountered mainly involved the site. Historypin works in conjunction with your Gmail account, so I had to create a separate account for the SSHS (which I discovered after I had started the project). Historypin is continuing to improve the features of its site, so aspects I would have liked to have done were not feasible yet, such as having my repeat photographs show up in the streetview.

Still, I think Historypin offers an exciting model for digital history in the future. I believe that the principles of collaboration and public participation that the site encourages will be the future of the digital humanities. And I very much enjoyed digitally documenting the history of the community where I live.

Link to the project:

4 Replies to “Final Digital Project – Historypin & the Silver Spring Historical Society”

  1. This is a really cool project. I had never used History Pin before, so I was particularly surprised by the tour complete with images superimposed on the street view. Going from just having a distance point on a map, to placing the image in a context people would recognize gives an interesting experience. It allows a fascinating glimpse into the past. I am curious, is it possible to access and run History Pin on a phone? This kind of project combined with the a phones GPS could make an interesting and informative walking tour.

  2. Thanks for posting this great piece Scott! I am the Content Manager for Historypin, and we love hearing about people using Historypin to engage with their local history and help archives and individuals share their historical collections and stories.

    Nathan, you can get the Historypin app for Android and Window devices, and on the iPhone.

    This enables you to see the photos pinned near you, and to take the ‘Repeats’ that Scott mentioned. These are modern equivalents of historical photos and allow you to fade between the two. Soon you will also be able to access Tours on the app so you can take the walking Tours you describe.

  3. I had never heard of Historypin before this semester, and I love it! After looking at your project and seeing how you used the site, I told my county’s historical society about it so hopefully they can utilize it as well. I really like how you can fade out the photo on the street view to see what the area looks like today. Seems like it’s easy to use, too.

    Great project!

  4. As Scott & Rebekkah pointed out, the functionality to view old photos around your location faded to where they once were is one of my favorite parts. This direction as opposed to one that just layers over old maps like PhilaPlace ( creates a higher level of interactivity and one that is very unique in the perspective it provides. It is one thing to see something presented from a birds-eye view but another when you’re viewing something from the vantage point of how you see things in everyday life.

    Cool project!

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