Time Machine

Historypin lets users visit the campus of past and present

Then and Now: The Haygood-Hopkins Gate.

This year marks the one hundredth anniversary of Emory’s milestone move from its original Oxford campus to Atlanta. As its physical presence spread outward from the iconic Quadrangle, the university morphed so dramatically during the past century that it’s difficult to imagine what it might have looked like in the years before the Internet.

Now you don’t have to. Emory’s Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library (MARBL) has placed nearly fifty archival photos of the early Atlanta campus and student life on Historypin.com, a website for sharing historical photos and videos. Since MARBL joined the site last September, its profile has had more than one thousand hits on its images, gaining popularity more quickly than expected.

Historypin uses Google Maps to “pin” each historical photo to its location on a current map, so site visitors can click various points on the Emory campus to see photos from 1840 to the present day. The Google Maps “street view” allows users to overlay the archival photos on their modern day locations; for instance, one can see the Haygood-Hopkins Memorial Gate in 1939, when it was undergoing repair, and in 1949—both superimposed over a street view image of the gate today.

Alumni also are encouraged to pin their own photos of campus to MARBL’s Historypin page. “We have been seeing a lot more public libraries, museums, and academic institutions using Historypin, which is great because more history is being shared in ways that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise,” says MARBL outreach archivist and research library fellow Matthew Strandmark, who heads the project. "We can post photos of Emory alumni at a sporting event, alumni can comment and say who was in the photo, and then they can share it, too. This is the whole idea of the project, to build a collective history."

Strandmark also has created a mobile app tour using MARBL’s historical photos of the Quad. “It will walk you through where to line up your phone so you can see exactly where the image was,” Strandmark said.

Strandmark and MARBL research fellow Anne Donlon are creating another mobile application that will generate walking tours of campus from the archive’s historical photos. The app will employ the same technology used in the Battle of Atlanta website and application, an open web tour of historical Civil War sites in Atlanta created by Emory’s Center for Digital Scholarship. Users will be able to scroll through the photos and watch videos of people speaking about the sites depicted in the photos.

Until that app launches this fall, check out Historypin.com, where you just might rediscover a corner of Emory you once knew.—P.P.P.

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