Interview with Steve Clifford, Historypinner

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Name: Steve Clifford

Location: Victoria, BC, Canada

How did you hear about Historypin?
I heard about it through Twitter.  One of the family history magazines I follow mentioned Historypin and I was immediately hooked.

How have you been involved with Historypin?
I’ve been pinning since early August 2011 and have encouraged other local historians and public institutions to get on board.  Although my initial interest was focused on Victoria I soon began pinning photos from across Canada and around the UK.  Some of these images have family connections while others are just interesting old photos I’ve picked up over the years. Hopefully someone in Moose Jaw or Manchester will see my contribution and be inspired to add a story or begin pinning their own  content.

What do you do when you are not pinning?
When I’m not pinning I maintain a blog dedicated to vintage ephemera and photographs.  I enjoy researching and uncovering the stories behind these discarded bits of paper and forgotten family photos.  I also spend quite a bit of time piecing together my own family history and this led to an interest in the First World War, specifically first-hand accounts of soldier’s experiences on the Western Front.

To earn “pin” money I work in IT although I also spent quite a few years in the adventure travel industry.  I’ve had itchy feet for as long as I can remember and in 2010 I fulfilled a dream by walking from Land’s End to John O’Groats … and the really crazy thing is I want to do it again!

What excites you most about Historypin?
I’ve always dreamed of owning a time machine that would allow me to explore my favourite streets and neighbourhoods a century ago.  I’ve also been looking for a way to share the photos I’ve collected with others who have similar interests.  So when I landed on Historypin I felt immediately at home.  I suppose what excites me the most is the opportunity to share, discuss and build content that can, in theory at least, benefit generations to come.

What is your favourite piece of content that you have pinned?
I have two favourites, one of my hometown, Digging out at Fort and Douglas in 1916, and the other of an image I never get tired of looking at, Grandborough Brook, Winslow, Bucks:

(Click the images to read the story about them and see them on Street View)

Digging out at Fort and Douglas


What is your favourite piece of content that you have found on Historypin?
I haven’t made it through all 110,000 photos yet but I think this is wonderful image:

The Traveller's Rest

If you could have any person or organisation start pinning, who would it be?
I would love to see the British Columbia Archives begin to pin.  They have an amazing collection of photographs, many of which are digitized, but unfortunately their interface is painfully dated.  I suspect funding is an issue but if they used Historypin they could focus their resources on sharing content with British Columbians and beyond.

I’d also like to encourage seniors to pin their photos and their stories before it’s too late.  I’ve rummaged through hundreds, if not thousands, of wonderful old photos that have nothing written on them.  Unfortunately these photos, treasured memories for one generation, become clutter to another once the personal connections are lost.

If you could go back to any place and time, where and when would you go?
I’m fascinated by the Victorian and Edwardian eras and especially the development of Victoria (BC) and London (UK) during these periods.  However if I could only use my time machine once I would program it to take me back to the Wirral peninsula in the mid-1920’s.  That’s the last known whereabouts of my great-grandfather Herbert Clifford and his disappearance is a mystery I’ve spent the last 15 years trying to solve.  I would dearly love to buy him a pint and have him tell me his story.

What would you like to see on Historypin in the future?
A growing and active community of pinners.  There’s a lot of fantastic content on Historypin and it will really take off when the that community begins interacting with each other on a regular basis.  It’s these conversations that I’m most looking forward to.
I’d also like to be able to pin other types of content, such as letters or pictures of ephemera.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see a photograph of a soldier boarding a train for the front and then be able to read the letters he wrote to his family back home? Or to look at a vintage automobile driving down the street and then view a copy of the original brochure?

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