The University of Oxford’s researchers and clinicians are critical to the international effort to understand the Covid-19 virus, to diagnose it quickly, and to develop related vaccines and therapeutics. When we look back to these times in future years, it will be important to have kept materials that can help us understand what happened, and to recognise the contributions of a great many people in the University, and beyond. The Bodleian Libraries and History of Science Museum wish to ensure that key materials are captured and preserved for posterity so we can tell the story of the University's contribution to the pandemic response.
How can you help?
If you are part of the research response to Covid-19, please think about what you have in your possession which might illuminate these times for future generations.
- Do you have any objects which could be of interest to the History of Science Museum? These may include test & trace kits, ventilators, vaccine-related items, etc.
- Do you know of a website, blog, or twitter feed, which contains important or interesting information? If so, nominate a relevant website for archiving in the Bodleian Libraries Web Archive.
- Do you have any 'private' digital or paper records which provide some account of the scientific developments and associated people? These could include emails or letters, a journal or diary you keep, drafts of scientific papers, or other unpublished items. If so, please email the Bodleian Libraries. The Libraries’ archives and modern manuscripts department works with confidential materials routinely, and will be happy to discuss embargos for any sensitive materials.
Time is of the essence
Materials of the kind we are seeking are vulnerable to loss, and if we fail to identify them now it is likely that we will lose key sources to learn from the past. The Bodleian Libraries hold significant personal and research papers in the archives of individuals, while the History of Science Museum holds artefacts that evidence how the science was done. Both organisations are fortunate to have some excellent records of Oxford’s work on penicillin during the Second World War; evocative letters by Dorothy Hodgkin give us a real sense of what it was like to be doing that work at that time, Examining items like these brings home the importance of identifying and preserving the materials we will need to explore the history of Covid-19 in our own times.
Out of scope
Our collecting is focused on items which are, or will become, rare or unique and which will not be preserved through other means.
There is no need to contact us regarding published papers, whether digital or physical. These will be collected through the Libraries regular acquisition routes. Similarly, the University Archives, collected at the Bodleian Libraries, provide a documentary record of the University’s official administrative history. Colleges also maintain their own organisational archives.