Researching During Lockdown: Tips from a Local Historian


Historian Liz Woolley of the The Oxfordshire Local Historian Association (OLHA) offered us the below tips for accessing research materials under lockdown. Read more about Liz's work and the OLHA here.  

The National Archives have made their digital records available free of charge for as long as their Kew site is closed to visitors. Users need to register, but can then order and download up to ten items at a time, to a maximum of fifty items over thirty days.

To find out more click here.

There are many interesting oral history recordings in the Imperial War Museum’s sound archive. Typing ‘Oxfordshire’ into the search box [scroll down the page] produces over 400 results, and you can filter further by time period.

There are also lots of sound recordings on the British Library website. One of the earliest is of John Hickman, a soldier from Bletchingdon, who was held prisoner at Sennelager in Germany during the First World War. Whilst there he was recorded by German sound pioneer Wilhelm Doegen who spent over twenty years capturing voices, languages, music and songs from all over the world. You can hear Hickman’s wonderfully rich Oxfordshire accent, from over a hundred years ago, here.

The website Morris Oxford recently celebrated its first anniversary. It is not, as the name might suggest, a website about the Cowley car factory, but rather about the past and present of Oxford more generally, beautifully illustrated and engagingly written. It's a site to enjoy browsing if you know Oxford already, and a good one to recommend to those who don’t.

The latest article is an interesting and pertinent exploration of Microbes and Medicine in Oxford.

There are more historic images of Oxfordshire to enjoy, and to help with your research, on the Historic England website and on the Historic Environment Image Resource.

There are also a perhaps surprising number of Oxfordshire people on the National Portrait Gallery website. The photograph above, taken in the 1860s, is of Elizabeth Gilbert, who was born in Oxford in 1826 and became a prominent campaigner for blind people.

During lockdown the Victoria County History is offering the Kindle versions of its paperback Shorts (covering single parishes) for just £1.49 on Amazon UK. These don’t include Oxfordshire, which is focused on main-series volumes, but they do cover a wide range of towns and villages across the country, including Cheltenham and Yate in neighbouring Gloucestershire.

For more information see VCH Director Catherine Clarke’s blog. A full list of available Shorts is here.