Historypin is a social business built by Shift to help local groups share and explore local history, make new connections and reduce social isolation

Historypin’s global community of people, groups and institutions gather and share the history of the places that matter to them, using collections of photographs, documents, sounds and moving images to start conversations and trigger memories.

I can’t believe I’ve met someone who’s met Elvis Presley and also carried Winston Churchill’s coffin. It’s made me want to ask my family to dig out all their old photos so I can share them with others via Historypin.

Tommy Underwood, age 13, student

Created with initial support from Google in 2011, Historypin consists of a web platform and a series of local volunteer ­led community projects that together increase local social capital and reduce social isolation.

Historypin projects are run by local volunteers who digitise photos, collect stories and record oral histories, mapping and sharing this content using Historypin.org. To date, 60,000 citizen historians and 2,600 libraries, archives and museums have run thousands of local projects, sharing Collections of materials and memories that are explored by hundreds of thousands of users through the website and mobile applications.

Two of Historypin’s largest community archiving projects have been independently evaluated, showing measurable impact on local social capital and social isolation. An evaluation of Pinning Reading’s History showed that:

Historypin is very much focused on community engagement using imagery to get people connecting through stories and locations. It made sense to The Brooklyn Museum to release our collection of images in a way that would enable and foster this dialogue.

Shelley Bernstein, Brooklyn Museum

  • Historypin effectively engages older audiences (27% of participants were between 50 and 65 and 25% were over 65)
  • Local archiving provides an enjoyable and deeply engaging activity, giving participants a sense that their histories are valued
  • Participation leads to the development of new relationships (70% of participants had met new people through the project)
  • Participation drives engagement in other local activities (38% participants became more involved in community activities after participating in the project)



IMLS Focus: The National Digital Platform

July 23, 2015

On April 28, 2015, the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) convened library, archive, and museum professionals to, in the words of Maura Marx, IMLS Director, “advance a vision of easy, seamless and reliable access for all Americans to the digital content and services that will enrich and improve their lives.”  Jon Voss represented Historypin on a panel about Linked Open Data and crowdsourcing.

Jon Voss

Screen Shot 2015-04-02 at 17.01.50

From Crowdsourcing to Knowledge Communities: Creating Meaningful Scholarship Through Digital Collaboration

April 2, 2015

In this paper, we share some of the findings of our Mellon-funded crowdsourcing research with Stanford University, with a focus on tools we found helpful in the process of identification, outreach, and collaboration with knowledge communities.

Jon Voss and Kerri Young

Historypin in the Community: 2013/2014

Historypin in the Community: 2013/2014

March 3, 2015

In the last couple of years, we’ve seen Historypin used to connect generations in Japan, to draw in rich life stories in Australia and even to inspire a mural in East London. These sorts of projects are at the core of our mission to build better local social connections through a shared sense of place and history.

Each case study gives you a brief glimpse of the people behind these projects and what they’ve achieved.

Breandán Knowlton


Leading in the Digital World: Opportunities for Canada’s Memory Institutions

February 4, 2015

Jon: “I was fortunate to be a reviewer on this important publication examining the future of Canada’s memory institutions, though the findings are applicable worldwide.  The authors of the paper take a bold stance on what is necessary for leadership in the digital domain.”

by: Council of Canadian Academies

Jon Voss


Citizen Science and Mobile Phone Cameras as Tools for Monitoring World Heritage

November 1, 2013

Early research on a proposed project to combine citizen science techniques and photo gathering to examine and monitor the aging and deterioration of objects of cultural heritage. Published in Built Heritage 2013 Monitoring Conservation Management.

Jon Voss


LODLAM State of Affairs

April 2, 2012

Article on the community evolving around Linked Open Data in libraries, archives and museums.

Jon Voss


Radically Open Cultural Heritage Data on the Web

April 1, 2012

This paper examines how a cultural, technological, and legal environment is enabling a growing ecosystem of open historical data. Published on Museums and the Web.

Jon Voss

pinning reading histroy evaluation

Pinning Reading’s History: Evaluation Report

March 24, 2012

Analysis of the social impact of Pinning Reading’s History, a project in Reading, UK, with data and analysis from the London Government Information Unit (LGiU).

Natasha Armstrong

inofgraphic pinning reading histroy

Impact Infographic

March 23, 2012

Depiction of the social impact of Pinning Reading’s History, a project in Reading, UK, with data and analysis from the London Government Information Unit (LGiU).

Tori Flower & Kate Ferrier



The State of Intergenerational Relations

October 2, 2011

Infographic illustrating the growing inter-generational divide, the growing ageing population, and prevalence of loneliness amongst the elderly.

Tori Flower and Charlotte Heal


Historypin & LODLAM at EuropeanaTech 2015

This talk at the National Library of France from February 2015 highlights some of the ways Historypin is being leveraged to increase access to cultural heritage content and strengthen local communities. I also take a quick look at the growing culture around Linked Open Data in Libraries, Archives and Museums and how data sharing may soon be the new norm for cultural heritage.

Smithsonian Institution talk on Linked Open Data

Jon Voss addresses the Smithsonian Institute and explores the fundamental elements of Linked Open Data and discover how rapidly growing access to metadata within the world’s libraries, archives and museums is opening exciting new possibilities for understanding our past, and may help in predicting our future.



Selected supporters include

andewmellon artandhumanitiescouncil BritishCouncil fugitsu google hlf nesta stanfordgoldman



Best Non­profit/charity website, 2012


Sunday Times App List 2012


The Social Tech Guide: The World’s Most Inspiring Social Innovations Using Digital Technology


Award for Best Education & Reference Website, 2012


Winner of the inaugural History Today Digital History Award, 2014


Best Websites for Teaching and Learning, 2014

Do you want to get involved? We'd love to hear from you
Email me - jon.voss@shiftdesign.org.uk