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Launching the US National Archives’ Remembering WWI app

Thematic collections within the Remembering WWI app.

April 2017 marks the 100-year anniversary of the United States entering WWI. To commemorate this anniversary, the US National Archives (NARA) is launching Remembering WWI, an iPad and Android application that invites audiences to explore, collaborate, and engage with the Archives’ extensive collection of World War I moving and still images. This project leverages the Historypin platform and API, through which we’ve been seeding content into the app. It is now available in the iTunes and Google Play stores.

NARA is leading this national collaborative effort, with participation from the Library of Congress and National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, the WWI Centennial Commission, the American Association for State and Local History, and the National WWI Museum and Memorial. This collaboration will ensure our audiences are connected to an extensive collection of resources to further provide an enriched experience with the app.

Remembering WWI is part of the larger Wartime Films Project, in which we’ve been helping NARA take a user-centered approach toward engagement on a major World War I and World War II digitization initiative. In line with our overall analysis of potential audiences and their community reach, the app is the outcome of in-depth user research and targets teachers, museum professionals and digital humanities scholars. We have been working with representatives from each to develop the best possible experience for these groups to use the app in their communities. For example, teachers will be able to use the app to enhance a lesson on WWI the classroom, museums can use NARA’s WWI materials to enrich the narrative around their own local collections, and on the backend, humanities scholars will be able to utilize and reuse the metadata that we are generating from this content.

A collection of segmented film clips within the app.

These groups have also been helping us pull out themes from NARA’s WWI collections that can help us tell a more complete story of the war and its aftermath, and we have spotlighted collections of everything from a women’s camouflage unit in New York City to some of the first aerial photos taken in combat. These collections serve as inspiration and provide jumping off points for content discovery and reuse, and largely source from photographs and films originally shot by the US Signal Corps on behalf of various armed forces units in the 1914–1920 timeframe.

Remembering WWI also invites people nationwide to contribute their own stories and play a part in the centennial commemoration of the War. Using the archival content within the app, the public can create their own collections and build and share new narratives around the people, events, and themes they’re exploring.

The edit collection screen in the app.

Adding an item to a collection. Add to an existing collection or create a new one with an item.

Browsing items in the app by tag.

We encourage you to download and test the app, and share it with your teacher, museum, and digital humanities networks. If you’d like to connect with others using it, visit the NARA History Hub space we’ve created. Alternatively, you can also view all of the content being uploaded into the app on Historypin’s Remembering WWI collection.

If you’d like to learn more about our process behind building the app or have any other technical questions, you can email me at kerri.young@historypin.org.

-Kerri