I am very pleased that the Van Houten Bequest has awarded funds to support our First World War Centenary commemorations and activities. We have been collecting and digitising war memories from across Europe for many years, it is great to finally have support to do it at home at Oxford. We had 15 supporting letters from across the collegiate University which reflects the importance of the activity and the hard work of the team.
We will build a web site to host the Oxford at War 1914-1918 Community Collection- inviting colleges, museums, archives and members of the public to upload stories and digitised material.
We will create an archive of crowdsourced material as a unique and versatile record of the University, its members, and its activities during the war years.
The war shattered Oxford and the colleges were haunted by absent friends.
2,700 Oxford men were killed in the Great War, at a time when the student population was only 3,000. Dons enlisted too, to fight, to work in intelligence or as medics.
The University bore some of the highest losses of any British university. One in five of University members who served lost their lives, a figure much higher than the national average and the average for the Allied Forces as a whole. We want to capture and record for posterity the part played by the University of Oxford in the First World War through the memories which have been handed down through the generations of those who passed through the colleges and out to the battlefields.
Oxford was more than just a point of departure for serving personnel. Between 1914 and 1918 colleges became military camps, homes for wounded soldiers, and a place of safety for refugees. The war changed Oxford forever in many ways. Scientific research conducted for the British Government contributed significantly to the war effort. The German Rhodes Scholars disappeared and the DPhil degree was introduced in an effort to attract graduate students from other countries. Relations with universities overseas were strengthened, and the rights afforded to women students were progressed.
The centenary of the First World War presents an opportunity to bring the University together to recount the narratives of the alumni who served and to rediscover the stories of life in Oxford from 1914 to 1918 as seen through the eyes of those whose lives also changed- women, war resisters, resident students, cadets, college staff and servants.
If you would like to be involved in work around the community collection this year, contact us email: firstname.lastname@example.org