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Lochaber Archive Centre and West Highland Museum seek WWII stories and objects for University of Oxford project

‘Their Finest Hour’ is a University of Oxford project that aims to collect and digitally archive war-related stories and objects with connection to the Second World War (WWII) that have been passed down through families.

The project initially launched in July 2022 funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, and aims to empower local communities to preserve stories and objects connected to WWII before they are lost to posterity.

Gathering sessions for the project are being held in communities across the UK this year, and High Life Highland’s Lochaber Archive Centre is delighted to be supporting West Highland Museum in hosting a session from 11am to 3pm on Wednesday 27th September 2023, at the Duncansburgh Church Hall in Fort William.

This gathering session is open to all members of the public, and will feature Second World War re-enactors, period music, displays of archive and museum collections. Light refreshments will also be provided.

However, Lochaber Archive Centre and West Highland Museum are particularly keen to welcome those who may have an object or story connected to WWII that they may be willing to contribute to the project.

Anyone who has an object, a document, or a story relating to the 1939-1945 war years is invited to come along and drop in to have their items will be photographed, and associated stories written down for inclusion on a new purpose-built website.

Alison Mason, High Life Highland’s Archivist, said: “Preserving and safe-guarding stories is at the heart of what any archive does, and we’re thrilled to be working with West Highland Museum in a project which seeks to do just that.

“Snippets of information passed down in families from generation-to-generation can, along with photographs, letters and objects, help researchers and archivists have a broader understanding of this significant period in world history.

“If you have stories or objects which might be relevant – and it’s likely they are – please do come along and help us record those memories so that we can ensure their importance is honoured and so that they don’t get lost to time.”

Any original items relating to local people and places can also be deposited with the museum or archive for long-term safekeeping, and the in-house team is more than happy to discuss this with anyone interested.

Steve Walsh, High Life Highland’s Chief Executive, concluded: “High Life Highland is delighted to be working in partnership with West Highland Museum to host gathering sessions in support of University of Oxford’s ‘The Finest Hour’ project.

“This is an important step forward in understanding, preserving, and celebrating those who lived through the Second World War – ordinary objects telling the stories of extraordinary lives.”

Those who cannot attend in person to submit their stories and photos of objects are invited to submit these directly to the University of Oxford’s dedicated online project archive from the comfort of their own home using the following link: https://oxford.omeka.net/s/theirfinesthour-archive/page/direct-submissions

To learn more about ‘The Finest Hour’ please visit the University of Oxford’s explainer webpage: https://theirfinesthour.english.ox.ac.uk/about