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Expert Q&A :: Historypin for family history

Q. From Carmel: How many pics are up there now?
A. Rebekkah: We’ve got nearly 250,000 which also includes video and audio clips. 

Q. From Michelle: Historypin is great for a variety of collaboration projects, particularly in local and community projects. How do you see the future of Historypin in relation to family history.
A. Rebekkah: At the moment there are some great examples of people sharing their family stories (eg. @Kate Mashedar|photos/list/cache/0/). We would like to see more of this. We are also working on better story telling tools, so people will be able to create more immersive stories, collating different kinds of materials and relating them to place and date to tell a story. We are also interested in the possibilities of being able to tag photos and add more contextual information so it would be easier to search and make links between peoples, places and stories
A. Rebel:  Good question, Michelle. I’ve just pinned a few places linked to family history. I suppose we could use photos of people related to a place. But I’d love to find out about more uses.
A. IHM: Do you want to share the link to your channel Rebel?
A. Hawkesbury Library Service: I know of some great local history projects (the field I work in) but note that family historians have been slower to take up Historypin. Sounds like you plan to address this @Rebekkah
A. Rebel: Thanks, Rebekkah, that’s good news. Our posts crossed!
My channel… well, it’s very tiny but I’ll nip off and find the link.
A. Rebekkah: @Rebel  I think the main focus at the moment is on people sharing their family history with a geographical and temporal element. But as more and more people use it, we hope it will become more of a research tool. There have been a couple of examples of people believing that their relatives were captured in others’ photos, which is cool.
A. Rebel: Great! *thinks: I must get back to pinning…*
My neglected channel is|photos/list/
A. Rebekkah: @Hawkesbury Library Service Yes, I think at the moment Historypin tools are a little more suited to local history collections. But with more storytelling tools we hope family historians will find it useful. And when we have more mystery solving crowdsourcing going on, we want to get lots of family historians involved because of their wealth of knowledge, experience and ability to do things like date photos from the fashions people wore
A. Michelle: Sorry that was me posting as Hawkesbury Library (multi-tasking) however I agree I think the more family historians can see the benefits, the more they will make use of this resource.

Q. From IHM: We know some societies and libraries that are planning Historypin workshops. Do you have a guide or case studies for collection days?
A. Rebekkah: We have a few resources here you can use also worth checking out our blog for inspiration of what others have done This is also a great example of a local library collecting photos and stories from their community

Q. From Sarah: Hi Rebekkah and Ella, am new to the site but just wondering if there’s a list of upcoming projects or areas due to be added?
A. Rebekkah: Hi @Sarah We haven’t got a list up at the moment. we’re planning some in NYC, San Francisco and East London and will be announcing more details on our blog once they’re live ( You can check out our current projects here:
A. IHM: Can’t wait to see the East London collections – we lived there for 5 years & miss it!
A. Sarah: Excting stuff, thanks Rebekkah.

Q. From Rebel: Copyright question (if I’m still in time) I’m guessing we can pin our own images etc, plus public domain and Creative Commons, but not copyrighted ones. What’s the protocol?
A. Ella: Yes, when you add material, you can select from a range of licenses including copyright, public domain and creative commons licensing, and to attribute the image to a source.
A. Rebel: Thanks, Ella, that’s very useful. Copyright’s a tricky area, and it’s important not to use other people’s work/images unattributed.

Q. From Linda: Just a last tag query – I am a tagging pedant. Since I prefer to tag as Smith, John, rather than John Smith, can I get away with that by tagging as “Smith, John”, or won’t that work?
A. Rebekkah: I think best to do ,smith john,
A. Linda: Thank you.

Q. From IHM: Please join me in thanking Rebekkah and Ella! We’ll have to finish but before you go, what is your favourite story you’ve found in the Historypin collection?
A. Rebel: Thanks, Rebekkah and Ella, and IH! Must get back to pinning.
A. Sharon: Thank you Rebekkah and Ella. Very informative.
A. Rebekkah: Both of us love this one, which was one of the first pins added to Historypin: This person pinned a photo of of their parents wedding, 40 years ago. They then renewed their vows there too. And it’s on Street View!!/geo:40.729908,-73.995645/zoom:11/dialog:1622001/tab:details/
A. Linda: Thanks heaps to both of you – it was fun.
A. Ella: Thanks everyone, we’ve really enjoyed talking to you!
A. Rebekkah: Thanks for having us Inside History Magazine, we’ve loved answering your questions. If anyone has further ones, you can join in the conversation on our Google Group (!forum/historypin) or tweet at @Historypin Thanks so much for joining us!

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