Using Historypin to Engage Students with Place

historypinBecky Parmer, Archivist for Connecticut College, wrote the following post for our blog. Thank you, Becky!

Historypin is a user-generated online archive that enables users to engage with history through digital storytelling. By overlaying or “pinning” photographs, documents, video, and audio recordings on Google Maps, users from around the world help create digital narratives of places and the people and events connected to them (ex: Putting Art on the Map, Living with the Railroad). In areas where Google Street View is available, users can overlay historic images onto the contemporary view, and, using a slider, compare how an area has changed over time.

Launched in 2011 as a collaboration between the non-profit We Are What We Do and Google, Historypin’s nearly 2,000 institutions (including the Smithsonian, the US National Archives, the UK National Archives, and other libraries, museums, and archives around the world) and over 57,000 individual contributors have pinned more than 370,000 digital assets over the last three years.

At Connecticut College, the Lear Center has adopted Historypin as a way of mapping and sharing college history across space and time. An intern recently developed a virtual tour of the Connecticuthistorypin1 College Arboretum from its inception in 1931 to present day. With historic photographs, correspondence, maps, and documents sourced from Lear Center collections, “The Arboretum at Connecticut College, 1931 to 2014” traces Katharine Blunt’s plan to turn a few acres of windswept hill into the enduring reflection of the College’s commitment to environmental education, preservation, research, and conservancy we know today. Take a (virtual) tour of the Arboretum here.

As a way of engaging students with primary sources, as a forum for engagement and debate, and as a way of crowdsourcing knowledge and experience on a given time period, subject, or event, Historypin has serious classroom potential. For more information the Lear Center’s Historypin projects or questions about how to set up Historypin for your class, contact Becky Parmer or your Instructional Technology liaison.


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