nate of nine

Tracking Historical Markers

I started a new game with the kids recently: collecting photos of historical markers. It’s fun for everyone, rather educational, and has opened my eyes to a few other things as well.
Day One is a perfect match. The project is kind of a journal and relies heavily on photos and geotagging, both of which Day One has awesome implementations for. I apply the tag to each entry ‘historicalmarker’ so I know I can find them later if I need.


For whatever reason the kids really love this. I have them watching the roads whenever we drive anywhere. Whenever they see one of these markers they yell out “blue sign!” to let me know I need to pull over. They actually notice them quite far off in the distance so it gives me plenty of time to slow down.

We’ll read the sign together and then I run out and take a photo of it in Day One on my phone. A lot of times this sparks some sort question or discussion for a bit too, which is a great side effect.

Later on I try to go back and type in the text from the sign so it will be more easily searchable later. At some point I may try to put an OCR step in there to automate this. It shouldn’t be too difficult as I currently have Day One synching via Dropbox which gives me direct access to all the markdown files and photographs Day One uses.

The whole process only takes about 90 seconds so I told myself that I should rarely have an issue taking the time to pull over. I was caught on this point over this past weekend. I was taking the family out for a movie when my son yelled “blue sign!” as we drove down the road. I was afraid we wouldn’t make it in time for the movie so I said we couldn’t stop right then.

Really? 90 seconds … I couldn’t take 90 seconds to snap a quick picture? I suddenly became aware of how so much of our time constraints are our own. There was plenty of time, and I should have taken it. We did drive back that way so we could stop. It turned out to be a very timely sign as well since there is so much debate going on around our local school budgets right now. The sign was for George Wolf who was involved in the Free School Act of 1834 which was the foundation the public school system. You can see the sign below.

It’s a wonderful way to show our children how the past continues to be relevant and make history seem more alive.