Oh snap: Old photos hit Google Maps

July 11, 2011 at 3:30 PM ET

Google Maps can now give you a virtual history tour starting from the 1800s. 

A trove of old photographs, of images such as a traditional English pancake race and snaps of San Francisco during WWII, has hit the Internet, thanks to a website called Historypin.

The crisp new website launched today, and catalogs photographs taken as far back as 1840, including photos of historical events like Abe Lincoln's inauguration. Will and Kate's wedding even gets a cameo wedding appearance in the collection, which stretches up to 2011.

Photo archives at The New York Public Library and The Chinese Historical Society of American contributed more than 48,000 photographs to this project — the current tally is 51,579 photos and growing — which have then been pinned and tagged on Google Maps at the location they were taken.

Like the website Dear Photograph, Historypin lets you contribute to the collection. If you find some historical gems in your parents' attic you can scan, upload and tag them on the project for other people to click through.

The photos are available as slide shows, grouped in collections like this one on weddings, or found through a searchable Google Maps page of the world. You can search for old photographs by year, location, or both. 

The project is led by We Are What We Do, a UK-based organization, in collaboration with Google Maps and various museums. Their latest squeeze is history, but in the past, they've promoted recycling, hugging, and have recently published a complete do-gooder compendium for kids, titled "Teach Your Granny to Text, and Other Ways to Change the World."  

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Nidhi Subbaraman writes about tech and science at Follow her on Twitter, and join our conversation on Facebook.