Crowdsourcing Historiana Source Collections – Global Reactions to Events in Revolutionary Russia 1917-1923

Louise Sträuli EUROCLIO

Picture: Demonstration near the Bolshoi Theatre 


Historiana, the educational portal developed by EuroClio, is entering a new engaging phase of development. Since the website’s establishment it has built up a broad variety of learning activities and historical content available to teachers, historians, as well as students providing quality education on history and heritage from a global perspective. Now, to make the content generation more inclusive the idea of a crowdsourcing came up. Crowdsourcing is a process in which many contributions by individuals cumulate to a valuable result. In the case of Historiana, EuroClio, led by the Historiana historical content team, involved its community to gather historical sources from a wide range of countries and draw from the diverse language skills and local historical knowledge of its members. The idea is that together we can produce source collections that are truly transnational and multiperspective, thereby removing an important barrier for those who want to teach history in this way.

Because things are sometimes easier said than done, we wanted to test the viability of crowdsourcing for this goal, with the pilot ‘Developing a transnational source collection on the Russian Revolution’. The purpose of the pilot was to set the events in revolutionary Russia into a wider international context and explore the different ways in which people, in the political elites or workers’ movements as well as amongst the general public or the bourgeoisie, responded to what was happening in Russia. In order to provide a transnational perspective, we wanted to include sources from within Russia as well as from the states neighbouring Russia, the Allied as well as the Central Powers. The focus was put on six key events in the years from 1917 to 1923.

EuroClio invited members to participating in a webinar session that took place on two afternoons in October and November 2018. During these sessions, the participants were instructed about the ideas behind Historiana, the aims of the source collection as well as the practical requirements and formalities for submitting sources. There were no requirements made on how many sources a participant would be expected to provide nor on the format of the sources.

By the end of the year, around fifty sources from more than twenty participants reflecting a broad variety of perspectives were submitted. Subsequently, the EuroClio Secretariat and the content team of Historiana took on the task of categorising and analysing the sources received. In certain cases, more information was collected from contributors or further research was carried out. Preliminary findings and conclusions were then presented by Bob Stradling at the EuroClio Annual Conference in Gdansk at the beginning of April in 2019. The positive reception by the audience as well as the motivated participation by the contributors supported the successful start of the pilot project.

Currently, the source collection counts over 150 sources from more than 13 countries. One of the biggest advantages that followed from the dedicated contribution of many members was the wide variety of different types of sources that came together. The diversity ranges from newspaper articles and eyewitness accounts, diplomatic correspondence and government documents to visual sources such as cartoons, photographs, drawings and documentaries. These sources provide a basis for teaching material that is reflecting multi-perspectivity as well as engaging and stimulating critical thinking and analytical skills.

For example, it is rather unusual to find out what children, being eyewitnesses to major world events in the past, were thinking about these at the time. Thanks to the contribution of Bistra Stoimenova, we have received a collection of children’s drawings made in Moscow in the year 1917. One of these drawings, depicting the first days of the bourgeois-democratic revolution, is shown below.

Figure 1 The bourgeoise-democratic Revolution in Moscow 1917. Source Contributed by Bistra Stoimenova. (accessed from Интернет-журнал «Подмосковный краевед», 2017,


In addition, we have received several sources that throw a surprising and less official perspective on the dynamics of the revolution. Examples are the photographs of Latvian workers at the Mantel Machine Factory who fought for the Latvian independence in Russia or a political poster directed at Allied soldiers in the Ukraine during the Civil War, shared by Dzintra Liepina.


Figure 2 Left: A photograph of Latvian Workers. Contributed by Dzintra Liepina. Right: A poster appealling to allied soldiers. Contributed by Lazar Aranitovic


The involvement of the EuroClio members made it possible for us to access and combine sources from countries and language areas that were not previously represented. While sources from the Russian Empire, the Central as well as the Allied Powers form the majority, a large proportion of the sources come from countries that were occupied by the Central Powers, like Albania or Luxembourg, or neutral countries, such as the Netherlands and Switzerland. This variation makes it possible to look at the events of the Russian revolution from a truly transnational perspective.

The amount of received sources will enable the team behind Historiana to create a number of small source collections, which will be uploaded to the website, providing an interesting, diverse and multi-perspective addition to existing history textbooks. Although a selection of the submitted sources must be made for this process, it must be emphasized that all submitted sources make a valuable contribution to this project as they enhance the understanding and knowledge of the events and thus make a comprehensive contextualization possible.

The source collection on the Russian Revolution was made possible by the diverse contributions and dedicated cooperation of the EuroClio members.

This pilot project has been an exciting and successful process for us as well as for the members of the EuroClio community, who have been given the opportunity to exchange ideas, to contribute to new teaching materials and to intensify and share their research.

If you, as a reader, feel inspired by the topic and would like to participate, then we look forward to hearing from you. Despite the success of the project there are still some gaps in the source collection. Less represented are contributions representing the perspectives within Russia as well as the perspectives from the bourgeoisie across Europe. Furthermore, only a small number of sources reflect the uprising of workers and soldiers in Petrograd in July 1917, the attempted military coup led by General Kornilov or the signing of the Treaty of Brest Litovsk on 3 March 1918. If you would like to contribute a suitable source to these gaps, you are welcome to contact Alice Modena (

After the successful implementation of the first pilot project, EuroClio is preparing for the next crowdsourcing project. In September 2019, the next

Webinar on the Fall of the Berlin War

will take place.

To commemorate the 30th anniversary of this historic event, we will discuss the history behind “the Fall of the Berlin Wall,” the coming to life of the Wall and its end. The reunification of Germany had not only far-reaching consequences in Europe, but was also a catalyst for developments in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. The webinar is the prelude to a new crowdsourcing project. The aim is to create a transnational and multi-perspective source collection that will provide history teachers and students with a multifaceted insight to the end of the Cold War. For once, the perspectives and activities of ordinary people are to stand in the spotlight and, on the basis of diverse sources, it shall be shown how contemporaries have experienced these historical events. If you are interested in the events of 1989, and specifically the Fall of the Berlin Wall and its impact on Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, and would like to participate in this upcoming Webinar, please look out for details about it on our website and on social media and register online.

We would like to thank

  • Bistra Stoimenova
  • Bojana Dujkovic Blagojevic
  • Dzintra Liepina
  • Guido Lessing
  • Jim McBride
  • Joy Jhugroo
  • Lazar Aranitovic
  • Lulzim Abdiaj
  • Mariana Lagarto
  • Miguel Barros
  • Olfa Mahmoud
  • Olga Terenetska
  • Riitta Mikkola
  • Tatiana Koval
  • Valentin Schönherr
  • Valerio Bernardi
  • Vesna Lučić
  • Zdravko Stojkoski

for their valuable contributions!


Written By Louise Sträuli, Euroclio Research Trainee

Historiana: a new source collection on Medicine and Anatomy is now available!

EuroClio continuously works to improve its innovative educational platform Historiana. To do so, it has been collaborating with Europeana in the creation of source collections. The aim of this collaboration is to guarantee to teachers across all Europe the possibility to have free access to historical content, learning activities and innovative digital tools. We are now working on many new collections focusing on the Renaissance, and on how the ideas of the Renaissance fed into different disciplines (painting but also sculpture, cartography, music, literature, architecture, philosophy, and science), across different countries.

Newly available is the collection “Medicine and Anatomy” that focuses on how Anatomy and Medicine evolved as the scientific method gained prominence during the Renaissance period. This collection gives an overview of some of the key ideas that influenced medical thought, as well as of all the important thinkers of that era. The main purpose of this source collection is to give students the possibility to explore and understand the changes throughout Europe of how people perceived medicine and the human body, as well as scientific advancements. Ultimately, it helps students to pose questions about progress and declines of the Renaissance period.

Historiana: Building Transnational Source Collections

Historiana Editor-in-Chief, Bob Stradling, recently gave a presentation at our Annual Conference in Poland in which he presented an overview of the development of the Historiana website and ongoing efforts to create more transnational source collections for use by history educators. He began with a retrospective look at the stages of development of the Historiana website. This commenced with the inception of the idea for a website for history educators in the early 2000s and was bolstered in 2013 by the formation of a partnership with Europeana – a collection of online sources from many libraries, archives, museums and other institutions around Europe with over 50 million digitised books, music, artworks and other sources. Historiana’s development continued with the creation of the eLearning Activity Builder and the generation of new content. 

Bob then described the Historical Content Team’s ongoing endeavour to build a transnational source collection on the Russian Revolution. For this project, Europeana sources were supplemented by crowdsourced material from EuroClio’s community. The collection remains a work in progress and will be followed by the development of further collections in line with the results of a needs assessment of EuroClio members carried out by the Educational Research Institute in Warsaw which identified eleven priority areas for future collections.

EuroClio and Partners Continue to “Open Up Historiana”

EuroClio and Europeana continuously work to improve its innovative educational platform Historiana. At the moment we have several projects contributing to these improvements, including the Opening Up Historiana project. This project aims to include a wider range of developers and partners in the web development of the platform, in addition to EuroClio and Webtic. At the same time we are opening up to our community of educators to involve practitioners in the decisions we make for changes and additions to the site. In that framework, we organised a feedback session on new ideas for the Historiana eActivity Builder. The session took place on Sunday 7th of April, 2019 as part of the EuroClio Annual Conference in Gdansk, Poland with 38 participants.

Ideas for the Historiana eActivity Builder

Teacher in residence Bridget Martin presented three concepts for future possible tools for the eActivity Builder on the Historiana website in sketch form and collected feedback for each of these individually. The concepts were as follows:

  • The Annotating Tool which would enable the annotation of visual sources. This would enable students to add an annotation in the shape and colour of their choice in which they could type text according to teacher instructions. The tool would allow for the analysis of a single source or the comparison of multiple sources.
  • The Highlighting Tool which would enable the annotation of textual sources. This tool would allow teachers to add textual sources of their choosing with which students could interact. Students would be able to highlight sections of the text in different colours and add written annotations which would appear like ‘post-it’ notes beside the text.
  • Support Buttons which would appear within each activity block (such as Annotating, Highlighting, Sorting, Prioritising) and allow teachers to provide instructions which students can access without losing sight of their workspace. These three buttons would allow teachers to add contextual information, instructions and questions for students to respond to.


The majority the participants to this session were not very familiar with the eActivity Builder, most indicating they had ‘never seen’ or only ‘generally seen’ the tool with just a few having gone into the builder in the past. Respondents were very positive about the usefulness of the proposed tools, particularly the Annotating Tool which the majority indicated they would use in their teaching. Teachers expressed a further desire to have the possibility of comparing and annotating visual and textual sources within one activity. Teachers also suggested the creation of a function which would allow students to collaboratively annotate and respond in activities.

What is next?

The project partners met in the margins of the annual conference to first prepare, and later discuss the feedback collected. They agreed the collected inputs will be taken on board in the next steps of the project. The proposed new tools will be sketched in more detail, and will be part of an open call for web developers that will be send out in April to find external web developers to create these tools. At the same time, we plan to have regular (online) feedback sessions to gather further inputs on the desirability and usefulness of the proposed developments. If you are interested to join us, please send an email to the project manager Judith Geerling ( and we will make sure you receive updates and invitations for feedback sessions.

Teacher Training Workshop on Representations of Women at Work in Groningen

This post has been written by Marissa Young, trainee at EuroClio.

On 11 March EuroClio provided a teacher training workshop at the University of Groningen in The Netherlands on “Women at Work: Analyzing and comparing visual sources from the Europeana Collections.”

The hour long workshop focused on demonstrating to participants how Europeana source collections on Historiana—specifically the Women Working source collection—could be used in the Historiana eActivity Builder to help students critically analyze visual sources. The workshop was generously hosted by Dr. Tim Huijgen, professor of History education at the University of Groningen. Participants were trainee teachers enrolled in master’s level education studies at the University of Groningen and all were working part-time as history teachers at local schools.

The workshop began with an introduction by Steven Stegers (EuroClio), who shared background information on Europeana and Historiana with the participants. He introduced the trainee teachers to the basic functions of Historiana.

Following Steven, I led an exploration on using the “Women Working” source collection.  The source collection was built as an eLearning Activity to help guide students’ analytical and critical viewing skills to help answer historical enquiry questions.  Such as, “what can representations of washerwomen tell us about how this profession was viewed by the rest of society?” or “How do representations of women medical practitioners differ between cultures?”

Why Women Working?

When asked to create a Europeana source collection for this workshop, I was inspired to focus on representations of women for two reasons. One, a personal interest in women’s history and two, due to the relevance of March as Women’s history month.

As I browsed through Europeana looking for visual sources of women I was struck by the number of sources showing women washing clothes, grinding grain, weaving cloth, hulling coal, healing others, and producing goods all across different cultures. These images offered a different interpretation of women workers than the now popular celebration of women entering the workforce as a result of wartime labor shortages. These images showed that women throughout history, and across cultures, had a more diverse profile of work than often acknowledged.

While curating this collection, my criteria for selecting sources was that they had to show women actively engaged in doing work, and that the work was not dependent upon a grand moment in history.  Resulting images show the everyday experiences of women.

What caught my attention, when looking at the complete collection, was that women’s work usually had social component represented. Women did their work with others, mostly other women. In many of these sources there is a sense of community, collaboration or assistance among the women. Does this social element represent the actual conditions of women’s work? Or do these sources serve to further the stereotype that women are the social gender?

There is much to explore in this collection, which is why we felt it would make for an interesting workshop on analyzing and comparing sources.

Analyzing representation in visual sources

During the workshop I reviewed the concept of representation with the participants. Representation is the production of meaning of concepts within a culture.  One participant gave the example that teachers are usually represented as standing in front of a board, wearing glasses, and probably holding an apple. When we see the board, glasses and apple and we recognize this person represents a teacher.

Representation is a process we constantly engage in, yet do not t usually stop to consider. However, taking the time to contemplate representation in an image can help students learn how to analyze and discuss visual sources critically. A great tool for teaching students to view sources critically is the Analyze tool in the eActivity Builder.

As we demonstrated during the workshop, you can use the Analyze tool to have students annotate visual sources to help them articulate the process of visual source analysis. A good annotation of a visual source has two components: a description and a meaning. For example:

The tree is arched over and all the leaves are pointing in one direction (description) which indicates this landscape is windy (meaning).

Participants were asked to assume the role of students and make at least three annotations on three images of washerwomen using the annotate feature in the eLearning Activity. Participants discovered how this simple tool can be used to help structure students’ process of visual source analysis and prepare them to answer historical enquiry questions with reasonable and justified evidence.

Russian Revolution Source Collection: Call for Contributors


EuroClio, with the support and collaboration of the Historiana Historical Content Team, is working on a collection of sources containing multiple perspectives on the Russian Revolution. This piloting project is aimed to set the events in revolutionary Russia into a wider international context and explore the different ways in which people – both in the political elites and among the general public – perceived and responded to what was happening in Russia.

The call for contributions was preceded by an introductory online seminar, which received a really positive response, with more than 40 participants and more than 80 people willing to contribute to the collection. The seminar was run twice, on 10 October and on 1 November 2018. Bob Stradling, Editor in Chief of Historiana, delivered a presentation on Historiana and the Russian Revolution source collection project, as well as a practical example on how the source collection would look like.

One of the pillars of Historiana is the transnational and multiperspectivity nature of its historical content. We thought that the best way to do so, was to involve directly our vibrant community members and friends around the world. Through the involvement of the EuroClio community, widely spread all around Europe and beyond, we hope to collect valuable and diverse sources that reflect different views and perceptions on the Russian Revolution.

This consists in the first pilot project for involving the EuroClio community in the making of Historiana and its content. The sources collected will be then curated by the Historical Content Team, and a representative selection of them, will be published on Historiana, contributing to enrich its historical content.

Would you like to participate?

If you would like to know more on the project and have a better insight, you can see the presentation and an example of a source collection showed during the seminar via the following links:

If you think and would like to contribute, we made available a form on our website to upload sources. The form asks you to specify some general information regarding the contribution (title, nature of the source, original language) and also some information on the content (which perspective is represented, to which specific event is it related).

We thank you very much for your involvement and we are looking forward for your contributions!

Historical Content Team Meets at House of European History

On 23-25 November 2018 EuroClio and the Historiana Historical Content Team came together in Brussels to define the first steps in the implementation of the 4th phase of the Digital Services Infrastructure (DSI4) project, led by Europeana Foundation. The meeting was hosted by the House of European History, which was also involved in the meeting in the person of Laurence Bragard.

During these three intense days of meeting, EuroClio and the Historiana Historical Content Team set the priorities and the next steps of their collaboration, in particular defining the future work on the implementation of the DSI4 project.

After a presentation of updates and news by Steven Stegers, Acting Executive Director of EuroClio, on Saturday morning, the afternoon was dedicated to the brainstorm and gathering of ideas for the source collections that will be developed within the project. In the framework of the DSI4 project, 24 new source collections on 6 different themes will be collected – re-using content from the Europeana Collections – and made available on Historiana. Participants were divided into two groups, focusing on the three themes already defined: one group on European Renaissances and Napoleon and his times and the other on the Industrial Revolutions. The brainstorm session was very productive and resulted in a good collaborative team work, combining the different expertise and backgrounds of all participants. On Sunday morning the two groups presented the work of the previous day and shared the ideas collected so far with all participants, for feedback and confrontation.

The meeting resulted in the definition of around 20 ideas on source collections to be further selected and developed within the coming months. Ideas for three additional themes, taking into account feedback by the EuroClio community, were also put forward and will be further explored by the Historical Content Team.

Following the meeting in Brussels, Bob Stradling, Editor in Chief of Historiana, spent two days at the EuroClio office in The Hague introducing the project and supporting trainees in collecting valuable sources. Trainees, supervised by the Historical Content Team, will work on the source collections, engaging in the search on Europeana collections as well as on research on the topics selected, in order to provide sources with valuable and relevant content.

Online seminar: The Russian Revolution. Let’s make together!

The Historiana Historical Content Team has started to work on a unit on the Russian Revolution and is looking for people who are interested in helping us to ensure that this unit will be truly multiperspective, transnational and meeting the needs of history educators who are teaching this subject.

The team will meet online on Wednesday 10 October, at 17.00 CEST, to present their thinking so far, and explain how people can contribute. If you are interested and able to join the team during this meeting, please register via Eventbrite by Wednesday 26 September, 2018. You will receive a confirmation message, and the instructions on how to join the meeting.

Fifth of the series of national trainings in Czech Republic: Let’s teach about the EU!

As part of the Decisions and Dilemmas 3: making learning about the EU motivating and meaningful project, the fifth national training event was held in Prague, the Czech Republic, on 14 and 15 June 2018. The training had as its title “We study and teach – EU” (Učíme (se) o Evropské Unii).

The training kicked off in the afternoon of Thursday 14 June. Following an introduction, the first workshop was called “How do we teach about the EU?” Discussions were held with the participants concerning how to approach the topic of the EU, and what teachers and students think about this subject in the classroom. The argument was made that extensive material exists to assist teachers on the subject, and this raises the question as to why teaching about the EU is still such a hot topic.

Next, Eva Zajícová addressed the need to discuss the approach of the EU as a subject in schools, and subsequently she gave an overview of some of EuroClio’s previous projects and results while explaining the Historiana website. In the light of Historiana’s database, many participants expressed that the usage of English materials does not pose a problem for them. However, others exclaimed that there is the possibility of a language barrier. That is mainly why ‘Decisions and Dilemmas 3’ aims to provide teaching materials about the EU in several languages. These materials can be downloaded from Historiana’s website and adapted to the teacher’s and student’s needs.

Participants proposed to introduce EU teaching in primary schools at an earlier stage, in this way including younger pupils, and by means of incorporating the topic into projects. The classical way of teaching is rather dry and not effective, participants argued, and thus other, innovative, ways of teaching about the EU should be used. Finding “real” situations, speaking about values, and addressing relationships were examples mentioned in the session. Even the usage of an internet game was mentioned but this gadget has to be revised and updated in order to be used as an educative tool in teaching pupils about the EU.

Jiří Beneš led the next workshop on “Opening up Europe’s borders”. The participants were very enthusiastic about this workshop, as it provided a short game that encourages participants to reflect on their own background in relation to bigger social issues. Participants had to imagine the map of the Czech Republic and find the position of the town where they came from. Then, participants had to change positions to the location where their family is from and in this trend reflect on the topic of migration – were your parents/grandparents immigrants? Czech newspapers were used to complement this game by reflecting on articles about the wave of immigration that Europe faces today, and encourage debate among the participants. In this session, the recommendation came forward to use personal stories in order to generate a bigger impact.

The second day of training started with a panel discussion moderated by ASUD President Pavel Martinovsky regarding “Global education and education in the European Context”. In this discussion, participants stressed that personal stories are very valuable in teaching history, as well as showing different viewpoints. Moreover, teachers should not be afraid to address controversial topics. In addition, the drama is a good method to teach history.

The following workshop discussed “Rising from the Ruins: a scripted drama about the important steps leading to EU”, translated by Eva Zajícová, and presented by Croatian international trainer Igor Jovanović. During this workshop, a discussion developed that involved the usage of drama in history education, and participants proposed the idea of using only part of the provided script in order for pupils to find their own course of events, and eventually, their own conclusions.

Regarding the viewpoint of Czech children on the EU, the participants concluded that the pupil’s opinions and views differ greatly from that of the older generation, as the EU has been a part of all the pupil’s life. They have not experienced border checks when going from one Schengen country to another. The participants suggested introducing them with this “unknown” and “inexperienced” part of Czech history in order to understand the situation prior to the EU, and thus understand the value of the EU today. Educating students can also lead to a wider dissemination of EU education in the form of talks and discussions with parents or other family members.

The participants expressed great contentedness regarding the two-day training. Fruitful discussions, the expansion of networks, and the opportunity of applying new teaching techniques were some of the aspects valued most by the participants.

The national training event was organized by the History Teachers Association of the Czech Republic. This article is based on the report written by Eva Zajícová.

National training in Portugal: teaching Europe to enhance EU cohesion

Catalina Gaete Project Updates

As part of the Decisions and Dilemmas 3: making learning about the EU motivating and meaningful project, the sixth national training event was held on the 29th of June, 2018 in Lisbon, at the headquarters of the Portuguese History Teachers Association (APH).

The president of the APH Miguel Monteiro de Barros and Association Member Joaquim Carvalho prepared and implemented the workshops held in this event, with the participation of an international partner and trainer, the Association for Historical Dialogue and Research (AHDR) Educational Officer Loizos Loukaidis from Cyprus. The participants who attended this event were all teachers from different schools of the secondary level. Thirteen were from various locations around the country, and seven were from Lisbon where the training was held.

The event began with Miguel Monteiro de Barros giving a summary of the project’s three phases and highlighting the importance of such a project and its beneficial implications for the integration of the EU. He stressed the importance of focusing more on social and daily life benefits brought by the EU, and less on political data such as treaties. He also informed the participants that amongst the materials provided to them, there was a pen drive that contained the three workshops discussed, in both Portuguese and English versions.

This was followed by the start of the event’s first workshop “Comércio a uma escala global” (Trade in a global context) by Joaquim Carvalho. For this workshop, the participants worked in groups of four and at the end of the session, each group presented its conclusions. All the participants were adamant about the utility of this theme for their teaching practice.

After lunch, Joaquim Carvalho presented the second workshop, which involved the use of drama: “Erguendo-se das ruínas” (Rising from ruins). The activity could not take place given the fact that the space available was not very adequate. Instead, the trainer presented the materials and explained how they could/should be used in a classroom context. After the presentation, there was a discussion about the material.

Then, workshop three dealt with “Opening Europe’s borders”, given by the international partner and trainer Loizos Loukaidis. This workshop was given in English, as one of the prerequisites to attend this event was having knowledge of the English language. Again, the participants were divided into groups in order to discuss the material presented on a smaller scale. The participants found the activities very useful and engaging.

The event ended with a presentation by Miguel Monteiro de Barros about Historiana. He demonstrated how units are grouped and how resources can be accessed through a hands-on activity. The participants were highly engaged in the activity.

Reflecting on the event, participants expressed their genuine interest and determination to include the EU and its integration in their teaching practice. Miguel Monteiro de Barros informed that this project is already having an effect on the Portuguese curricula, as the APH is cooperating with teams from the Ministry of Education on a national project that deals with changing the way various disciplines are taught. The main objective of this project is to teach what is essential with a more practical and transversal approach. The APH was asked by the Ministry of Education to look into the history programs and change them where needed. Some of the outcomes of the project ‘Decisions & Dilemmas’ have been incorporated in that work.

Finally, the participants looked back on the event very positively. The event even ended later than planned due to a high level of participation.

This article is based on the report written by Miguel Monteiro de Barros from the Portuguese History Teachers’ Association.