Nationwide WW2 history project discovers rare stories and objects

06 July 2023
Their Finest Hour is a nationwide project safeguarding the memories of the Second World War for future generations through mass digitisation of WW2 stories and objects

Oxford University is supporting a nationwide project under the name ‘Their Finest Hour’ and the project team have already collected a range of stories and objects covering both the extraordinary and the seemingly ‘ordinary’. Many war medals, ration cards, pocket manuals, photographs, letters and memoirs have also been submitted to the archive so far.

Dr Stuart Lee, project director, said: 'We’re delighted to be able to create an archive of memories of the Second World War. We know from previous projects that people have so many wonderful objects, photos, and anecdotes which have been passed down from family members which are at risk of getting lost or being forgotten. Our aim is to empower local communities to digitally preserve these stories and objects before they are lost to posterity. I encourage everyone with material they think might be relevant to bring it to one of our digital collection days, or submit it online.'

Funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and based out of the Faculty of English at Oxford University, ‘Their Finest Hour’ has been working with volunteers to organise ‘Digital Collection Days’, which give members of the public in all regions of the UK the opportunity to bring along any war-related stories and mementos in their possession to be recorded and digitised. Those who cannot attend a Digital Collection Day in person can submit their stories and photos of objects via the project website. Once the stories and objects have been collected and digitised, they will be made available to the public through a large, free-to-use Online Archive next year.

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World War Two poster by Rowland Hilder (1905–1993). Courtesy of National Archives.