How Museums and Institutions Can Use Remembering WWI, featuring the Columbus Museum

Today’s post comes from Kerri Young of Historypin, app developer on the US National Archives’ recently completed Remembering WWI tablet app.  You can learn more about the app’s initial launch on the blog of the American Association of State and Local History

Columbia Museum using WWI app with artifacts

The US National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) recently launched Remembering WWI, a tablet app that enables the reuse of newly digitized and expertly preserved WWI-era films and photographs. Using these and other partner content as a basis for enrichment and narrative-building, you can create collections in a way that complements your existing WWI programming. Here are a few ideas for how you might use the app in your institution:

  • Add a selection of your own local WWI collections into the app for your community to explore (done through mapping platform Historypin)
  • Use NARA curated collections in exhibits and museum tours
  • Use the app in educational programming
  • Create collections using NARA and partner content on WWI-era themes you’d like visitors to explore
  • Download photos for reuse in museum programming

In practice: The Columbus Museum, Georgia

Since launching the app, we’ve started to hear from different institutions on ways that they might incorporate it into their WWI programming. The Columbus Museum, an American art and history-focused institution based in Georgia’s Chattahoochee Valley, has already hit the ground running. Their Assistant Collections Manager, Lauren, gave us some great examples for how the app can feed into both their educational programming and gallery tours:

On using both Historypin and the Remembering WWI app:

“Both platforms allow us to share collections that can’t always be on display. This helps protect our more delicate items, provide context for installed exhibits, and it allows people to see a snapshot of an exhibit if they can’t physically visit the museum. For example, our WWI in the Chattahoochee Valley exhibit ends on August 27. But users will be able to access many of the objects and exhibit labels long after de-installation. Additionally, our Education Department can continue to use this information to supplement tours in our permanent history gallery.”

Columbus Museum’s collection, “WWI and the Chattahoochee Valley" on app and Historypin
The Columbus Museum’s collection, “WWI and the Chattahoochee Valley,” on both Historypin and the app.

On their collaboration with local teachers:

“The Columbus Museum is part of the Muscogee County School District and, as such, has a strong connection with regional teachers. Our Education Department holds regular professional development events for teachers. These events introduce educators to resources at our museum that meet grade specific education standards. Remembering WWI will definitely be one of those resources. Teachers can use all of the collections on the app to illustrate the events of the war while also using our collection to literally bring the war home. We may create some of our own collections on the app using resources from all of the curators to share with interested teachers.”

She also shared some fantastic photos with us of the app in use at the museum:

Columbia Museum using WWI app on visitor tour

“The first shows our Director of Education giving a tour with the app. We have two paintings by Frederick Judd Waugh, a camouflage artist for the US Navy, who specialized in “dazzle camouflage.” We’re able to use the app to show images from the US National Archives’ collection “Women’s Reserve Camouflage Corps of WWI” to show visitors what dazzle camouflage was and discuss how American artists participated in the war effort.”

Columbia Museum using WWI app with artifacts


“The second image shows a mess kit that we have on display next to [app partner] The National WWI Museum and Memorial’s “Food in the Trenches” collection.




Columbia Museum using app to add context to artifactsThe third, and last, image shows a photo from the US National Archives’ “Children’s Activities in WWI” next to a certificate for a Red Cross Auxiliary School in Muscogee County illustrating how citizens of all ages participated in the war effort.

Fun stuff: Mapping your WWI content on Historypin

As the Columbus Museum’s examples indicate, institutions can participate in this project by adding their own WWI-era collections to the tablet app. If you contribute through the dedicated Remembering WWI collection on Historypin, your items will automatically appear in the app.

Historypin allows you to map out each of your items so your audiences can engage with your content geographically (rough locations are okay, e.g. “France”). And if you do happen to know the exact location of where a photo was taken, Historypin has tools to help you overlay it onto Google Street View! We love this example from the Connecticut State Library, a participant in this project who is also spearheading their own state-wide WWI initiative:

Animated gif of historic image superimposed on modern street map photo
A submarine float travels down Maint St. in Hartford, Connecticut during WWI. Pinned by the Connecticut State Library to Historypin.

Thus, by contributing your own collections, you can leverage these two free platforms to further engage your audiences with your WWI content, while also helping the Archives build a national collection of WWI primary sources.

Here are a few great examples of institutional collections in Remembering WWI:

For a step by step walkthrough for how to contribute, see this post.

We’d love to hear ideas for how you’d like to use Remembering WWI where you are, or share how you’re already using the app, so please shoot an email to Kerri at or use the hashtag #RememberingWWIapp on Twitter.  

An overview of the app’s features.You can read more about how to use the app here.


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