On This Day, 25th January 1917

On This Day – exploring cultural collections through time

The On This Day site allows users to explore content from several open collections based on historic dates. This site was originally conceived perhaps as early as 2009 when I was first coding with the Flickr API to access Flickr Commons images.  Flickr has quite a rich and surprisingly practical way of recording historic dates – at least for the timespan during which photography has existed – which allows for their inherent imprecision.  Over time I have upgraded both the UI and the underlying data and the collections now include over 100 organisations from Flickr Commons, several hundred from Europeana, the Imperial War Museum (including the American Air Museum and Lives of the First World War projects), and the National Maritime Museum.


Using Google Analytics I can see that in 2017 the site had nearly 13,500 unique users and a combined total of nearly 21,000 visits. The average visit lasts close to five minutes, so what are they doing? When configuring Analytics I made sure that every image that appeared in a view was measured, but crucially also to record the name of the provider institution. As you can imagine, the figures are somewhat correlated to the total number of items from each and of course the richness of their time-based metadata, but the results shown below were quite a surprise to me! You have to read them with a pinch of salt though – – every time an image appears on a page that gets logged, it’s not a record of the user necessarily interacting with the image in some way.

The high figure for Imperial War Museum is perhaps because we not only have a lot of dated content, but we now use it to do some social media planning!  The figure for the National Maritime Museum will again be down to volume of content, butalso because they have older material that tends to appear first!

Google Analytics stats for 2017
Google Analytics stats for 2017


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