Documenting a special time: Oxford community collection initiatives

We are living though an extraordinary time. Over a few short weeks, life has changed and with little notice we have adjusted by changing what we do, where we are, who we see. It is not surprising to see that a number of initiatives have sprung up, looking to document what is happening now. We are making history, and we have the means to record it. Running a community collection online is an obvious way to do so in these times. Although a community collection campaign can be a big undertaking, it doesn’t have to be. If you limit the scope and use technology and procedures that you already have in place, you will see that you too can run a community collection. And not only during extraordinary times.

Here we feature some community collection initiatives currently running in Oxford. Use them to inspire you and feel free to get in touch to discuss your ideas for current or future collections.

Lockdown 2020 – daily life at the University of Oxford

Having worked with community collections for over a decade, it was natural for the RunCoCo team to look at running a community collection initiative now. With limited resources, we follow our own advice and focus on a community which we can relate to and engage with though existing channels. For us that is Oxford University and the people who are part of it, so our community collection aims to capture daily life at the University, shared by students and staff.


Obviously, the University does not exist in a vacuum. We are fortunate to be able to collaborate with the Museum of Oxford who are running a community collection aiming to capture stories and images of Oxford city life.

The Covid-19 Pandemic and Oxford

The Museum of Oxford is collecting objects and stories that relate to feelings and responses of people in the city during the Covid-19 pandemic. Anyone can share their story and/or object(s) though an online form. Contributions are archived and displayed on the website.

Website: the-covid-19-pandemic-and-oxfo/c19

By working together, we can do much more than what either of us could do alone, capturing Oxford ‘town’ and ‘gown’ at an extraordinary time in history.

Oxfordshire History Centre

In addition to the online Oxford Town and Gown collections, the Oxfordshire History Centre is collecting material for its archive and future exhibitions. They are happy to receive both digital and physical material. In addition to the archival collection, the centre is also encouraging people to share stories and pictures though a Facebook group.


Facebook: Oxfordshire History Covid Lockdown Pictures and Stories

Life-Writing of Immeasurable Events (LIVE)

Finally, although community collections may be thought of as something involving objects or pictures, it can also take other forms. The Centre for Life writing are interested in literary and creative responses to this time, and are encouraging people to use life writing to reflect on this time, their situation or experiences.  If the author agrees, contributions may be published on the website and featured in their Instagram account.



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