Pinning Reading’s History

The people of Reading came together to create a community archive of the town

Project Description

Pinning Reading’s History

Reading, UK

March 2011 – January 2012

 

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“It is really nice to be involved with something that is about your area, you walk along and you see things you didn’t know about and now you do.”
(Local Champion)

Why was it run?

Reading is often perceived as a ‘new’ town or a commuter hub where people change trains, and not associated with a particularly rich and varied history. Reading Museum and local stakeholders wanted to increase a sense of pride in the town and its history and to create something to show off its rich heritage to a local, national, and international audience.

Additionally, they wanted to use the project to build connections within the community: to increase participation in local activities, and, in particular, to increase contact and develop relationships between different generations.

Organisers

  • Reading Museum
  • Reading Council
  • Volunteers and local champions
  • A Historypin community officer
Participants
  • 78 volunteers (“Local Champions”)
  • 35 schools
  • 32 community groups and organisations
  • 9 archive and heritage partners
  • 1,964 total participants in activities
  • 16,687 visitors to the exhibition
What happened?

The Historypin officer gathered a group of 78 Local Champions and together they co-ordinated and inspired around 50 events across the town, with a wide variety of local organisations.

At the core of the project was a partnership with Reading Museum, who had a large existing archive of historical materials and a space to hold an exhibition, which would be the culmination of the project.

The Local Champions held weekly drop-in sessions at the museum where residents were encouraged to bring in materials and memories from the area, and there were facilities and assistance for scanning photos and adding contributions to Historypin.org.

Other events included workshops in schools and care homes, guided historical walks, coffee mornings, a series of library talks and one-to-one sessions at older residents’ homes.

An interactive exhibition was hosted in the museum for a six month period, showcasing the best materials gathered over the project, featuring physical displays as well as digital projections of contributions recently added to the website.

Seeing these photos brought tears to my eyes. This has made my day.
(Exhibition visitor)

What was created?
  • Over 50 events involving a wide cross section of the community
  • A digital archive of 4,100 photos, videos and stories on Historypin.org
  • An interactive exhibition in Reading Museum

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MEMORABLE MOMENT

Each and every humble contribution was memorable and appreciated by the team.

Conversations often started with ‘I don’t suppose you would be interested but…’ and a story and image would be shared and pieces of everyone’s history would be captured and preserved. Every image was valued, every family story had potential. People often commented on how brilliant it was that someone was prepared to accept their contribution to Reading’s heritage.
— Amanda Holland, Historypin Community Officer

IMPACT

An evaluation validated by London Government Information Unit showed

  • 70% of participants had met new people through the project
  • 38% of participants became more involved in other community activities after participating in the project Positive impact on inter-generational relations
  • 27% of participants were between 50 and 65 and 25% were over 65
  • 89% of participants spent more than a hour a week with older people
  • An increased understanding of local heritage – 9/10 participants agreed or strongly agreed they had learnt more about the history of Reading Increased
  • connectivity within the community
  • Local archiving provided a deeply engaging activity, giving participants a sense that their histories are valued
Ongoing activity

Reading Museum continued to host a number of workshops with other local museums, groups, societies and learning centres after the official end of the project. A ‘Friends of Pinning Reading’s History’ group also continued to meet. The Local Champions went on to work on other local projects including ‘Happy Museums’, working with Reading residents impacted by high crime and poverty, and a neighbourhood histories project.

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