Historypin is an amazing nonprofit website, app and resource to visualize snapshots of history on a fully interactive worldwide map. Supported by Google, the Historypin community contributes hundreds of thousands of images from the past, making them freely available for students to view, research and even contribute to themselves.

HistorypinName: Historypin – www.historypin.com
: Free
Compatibility: Desktop/Tablet/Mobile
Access: Google/Facebook/Twitter
Privacy: Open (privacy policy)


A Quick Look

Logging in

Logging in to Historypin requires either a Google, Facebook or Twitter account. This can be a limitation for some schools and students, so consider setting up a unique account just for your class or using a teacher or admin account. All maps and data can be viewed without logging in, but if you want to contribute to maps an account must be created.

Historypin Login Screen

Also do be aware that Historypin’s terms and conditions require users to be 16 years of age or above or have a parent or guardian’s permission to use the site.

Historypin Terms and Conditions

Exploring maps

Historypin uses Google Maps as a base to overlay historical data on. This means that the interface should be familiar and comfortable for any students who have used Google Maps before. Clicking ‘pins’ on the map will bring images into focus and from there details of each photo can be viewed, commented on and even compared against Google’s current Street View (this is really cool).

Historypin Map

Beyond the maps

Historypin Menu

The Historypin community and contributors are what makes the site such a priceless resource. Make sure to spend some time looking around the other sections of the site:

  • Projects – Contribute your own photos to projects such as ‘Olympic Memories‘, ‘Amazing Grandparents‘ and ‘Living With The Railroads
  • Profiles – View and follow what people and places such as ‘Stanford University Archives’ and ‘Smithsonian Institution Archives’ have added to Historypin
  • Tours and Collections – Tours lead you step-by-step through history, telling a story, exploring a place or walking through time. While collections bring together content around a particular topic or event.
  • Get Involved – Resources for schools, local projects, libraries, archives and museums.
  • Blog – The latest news and ideas from Historypin


In Practice

1. Explore local history

Ask your students to discuss, locate and research areas of cultural significance in your local area. Using online resources (Google image search, Flickr) and offline resources (archives, public library, newspapers) collate photographs and information on each of the areas. Have students use Historypin to compare their research and encourage them to upload their own content to the maps (making sure to instruct and adhere to any copyright protection).

2. Contribute to a Historypin project

If students are struggling for ideas on how to contribute to Historypin, there are a number of pre-defined projects they can get involved in. Projects tighten the scope of what should be contributed and can be a good way to help students focus, or align Historypin to certain class goals or activities.

3. Pin of the day

Each day, Historypin places a ‘Pin of the day’ on the front page of the site. Use this pin to start a discussion on that particular region, culture or period in history. This can be a quick and simple option if your students are unable to create their own accounts on the site.

4. Interview

This is an activity that a number of schools have engaged with, so much so, that Historypin provides a lot of the resources required to get started. Have your students interview an elderly relative or family friend. In this interview they can gather digital copies of old photographs and gather information about the picture, period and history. All this information can then be uploaded to Historypin and shared with the world. Some schools have even partnered with aged care homes with wonderful results, for both students and the elderly.

5. Exhibition

Taking all of these ideas one step further, students can create a gallery or exhibition of all the historical locations they have studied on Historypin. This could take the form of a digital gallery using tablets and computer monitors, or material could be printed and mounted on posters for offline viewing. This can be a very rewarding event to share with your school and local community.


Links and Next Steps


Have you used Historypin before? What ideas do you have for pinning history with your students?

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