This summer, Oxford University are launching ‘Lest We Forget’, a new community-based initiative to preserve materials held by the public dating from the First World War.
Building on from the success of our ‘Great War Archive’ in 2008, a mass-digitisation project that attracted the direct submission of over 6,500 items (now available online), we want to rescue the many remaining traces of the war in attics, drawers, and cupboards in homes across the UK still waiting to be uncovered.
With the loss of all veterans of 1914-1918, and the rapid fading of those years from living memory, this campaign provides one final effort to ensure that as much material as possible is saved for posterity before it’s too late. These centenary years have provided an important impetus for a renewed interest in the generation that fought the conflict, but we want to ensure that memory lives on beyond 2018.
Training local volunteers in archival recording skills, the Lest We Forget initiative seeks to actively engage communities nationwide in the digital preservation of documents, photographs, and memorabilia. Local schools, care homes, and community groups will be invited to partake in dedicated training events and take a lead in collection days for members of the public to share family collections.
Every item collected will then be published in 2018 on a free-to-use online database for children, scholars, and the wider public alike to promote understanding of the Great War, further historical research, and secure the stories of those who lived through it.
However, we cannot achieve this alone: on 1 June 2017, our crowdfunding site will go live as we aim to raise the £80,000 required for training days, outreach activities, and equipment. Please help us to spread the word by following us on Facebook and Twitter (@WW1Centenary), and sharing our posts with colleagues, friends, and family.
Every donation is another step closer to ensuring that the sacrifices of this war are not forgotten.