Tuesday’s Tool: WhatWasThere

Local histories can sometimes be the most interesting to our students. However, it is hard to place historical landmarks by just reading about them or learning about them from those who were there. Even images aren’t always enough.

WhatWasThere is a tool that pairs historical pictures and images with their locations on a Google map. It is even easy for one to upload photos for archival purposes. Scanning and archiving Grandma’s old photos can help tell a historical tale in a particular location.

The website says it best:

The WhatWasThere project was inspired by the realization that we could leverage technology and the connections it facilitates to provide a new human experience of time and space – a virtual time machine of sorts that allows users to navigate familiar streets as they appeared in the past.

The premise is simple: provide a platform where anyone can easily upload a photograph with two straightforward tags to provide context: Location and Year. If enough people upload enough photographs in enough places, together we will weave together a photographic history of the world (or at least any place covered by Google Maps). So wherever you are in the world, take a moment to upload a photograph and contribute to history!

If you have a question or want to find out more about this project, contact us atinfo@whatwasthere.com.

In addition to the easy-to-use website, WhatWasThere also has an iPhone app.

How could one use WhatWasThere in a classroom? Are there other applications outside of a history course? How does a tool like WhatWasThere transform history education?

(H/T Carmen Marty, eIS)

Zac Early is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center.