11/11/2011 01:37 pm ET Updated Jan 11, 2012

Remembering WWII Veterans With Shoebox iPhone App From 1000Memories

By: Robyn Gee

This Veteran's Day, the team at 1000Memories is encouraging everyone to remember a veteran of World War II by taking advantage of their new Shoebox iPhone app, an app that allows people to transfer the contents of their old shoe boxes full of photos to an online gallery and share them with family and friends.

Jonathan Good, one of the founders of 1000Memories, an online scrap-booking and social-networking site, said the Shoebox idea began with their collaboration with the Library of Congress and their Veterans History Project. The 1000Memories team was helping them collect 30 minute-long oral histories from veterans, and using lots of heavy equipment to do so.

"We just wanted to make something that is much easier. Everyone should be able to do something. Even if you just scan one photo, and write a bit down about it, the amount of history we'd record is amazing," said Good. The app -- currently available exclusively for iPhones -- relies on the iPhone camera to photograph dusty, torn and yellowed photos which are then compiled, along with other video testimony, into an online gallery.

One unique feature of the app is the camera's focusing mechanism. As the user holds their phone over an old picture, the camera will automatically spot the edges of the photo. It then uses that information to make the picture appear flat and evenly proportioned. "What's really amazing is to be able to perfectly frame the photo... You don't have to worry about one side appearing bigger than the other--it makes it into a perfect rectangle," explained Good. The app allows you to add captions to the photos, and then share them with family and friends.

Why just focus on WWII? Because there aren't many WWII veterans left. According to Good, only 2 million of the 16 million Americans that served during WWII are still alive. "They're all kind of 85 plus, and this is a unique opportunity to record and remember their stories so that future generations can remember their bravery and hopefully learn from it," he said.

All three founders of 1000Memories -- Brett Huneycutt, Rudy Adler, and Good himself -- had grandparents that served in WWII. "My grandmother served in Sri Lanka as a nurse, she got on a boat and they didn't tell her where she was going. She was there looking after allied soldiers who were wounded," said Good. "I think we all forget how cool it is to see intimate photos, it brings the memories flooding back. There's the funny ones, the poignant ones... It's also noticeable the yellowing of the photos, they're deteriorating a little, it's like a natural Instagram filter," said Good.

Since launching two weeks ago, Good says Shoebox has been very popular. "It's been consistently in the top 10 photography apps in the app store," he said.

Today, you can see the gallery featured on the front of The Library of Congress and the Internet Archive are both partners in this project.

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