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Educational Design and Engagement

Educational Design and Engagement

Enriching the student learning experience & supporting development of on campus and online courses.

Their Finest Hour Archive Launch

On the 6th June, the online archive for Their Finest Hour will be launched, after 73 Digital Collection Day events took place across the UK in 2023 and 2024, including the one that we ran at the University of Edinburgh on 25 November 2023,. Overall, Their Finest Hour digitised over 25,000 previously hidden artefacts from the Second World War.

Along with others around the country, I have spent the last few months uploading stories and photographs of artefacts that were compiled at the Edinburgh Collection Day. Photos of the objects and stories associated with them will be available to view on the project website ( on 6 June 2024 to complement events commemorating the 80th anniversary of D-Day. The archive and its contents will be free to view, share and reuse, enabling the stories and experiences of the past to move into research and education today. The archive contains a remarkable range of stories and objects that capture both the extraordinary and everyday lives of those who experienced the war.

Dr Stuart Lee, project director, said: “Very few families in Britain and across the Commonwealth were untouched by the war. We knew from previous projects that people have so many wonderful objects, photos, and anecdotes which have been passed down from family members and which are at risk of getting lost or being forgotten. We’re delighted that we have been able to preserve so many of these stories and objects and make them available to the public through our archive of memories.”

Funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and based out of the Faculty of English at Oxford University, ‘Their Finest Hour’ worked with hundreds of volunteers to organise up to over 70 free events in 2023 and early 2024. Over 2,000 people attended the events, called ‘Digital Collection Days’, to share their war-related stories and mementos and have them recorded and digitised (i.e. photographed) by volunteers. Those who could not attend a Digital Collection Day in person were able to submit stories and photos via the project website.

Dr Matthew Kidd, project manager, said: “The success of the project would not have been possible without the voluntary effort of thousands of dedicated volunteers and contributors. Thanks to their efforts, we’ve been able to create a ‘people’s archive’ of the Second World War that showcases both the extraordinary and everyday objects passed on by those who lived through the war.”

On 6 June 2024, join the University of Oxford’s free, online launch of the Their Finest Hour Digital Archive, a unique collection of never-before-seen stories and artefacts from the Second World War. From 1pm to 2pm, you will be guided through some of the highlights of the archive and discover the most unexpected, unique and significant memories and keepsakes passed on by the wartime generation.

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