Launched in October 2017, following the success of an enormously popular crowdfunding campaign, Lest We Forget (LWF) is an Oxford Univeristy led project that aims to capture the memories and stories of the Great War before they are lost to history. From June 2017, the Lest We Forget team is running a unique, large-scale digitisation project that will collect and make publically available, in digital form, memorabilia and personal accounts of war-time experience. As part of this initiative, the LWF team helps local communities across the UK to organise and run their own Digital Collection Days in order to gather personal stories of World War One told through photographs, diaries, letters and mementos, and the memories and oral histories passed down through families.
"Few people in Britain were unaffected by the War", says project leader Dr Stuart Lee, who is Deputy Chief Information Officer for IT Services at Oxford University, member of the Faculty of English, and member of Merton College:
Millions served in the conflict or transformed their lives to contribute to the war effort; most who survived lost loved ones, family and friends. Yet, the sacrifice made by these men and women on a daily basis increasingly slips from living memory. Safeguarding the memory of World War One is of critical importance to both honouring the sacrifice made by those who upended their lives or laid them down during the conflict and to the preservation of our national identity. Through our digitisation projects here at Oxford, we will keep the memory of the Great War alive so that we may never forget.
In November 2018, to complement projects and events nationwide commemorating the centenary of the end of the war, these stories will be made available to the public through a large, free-to-use online database. The database and its contents will be freely accessible, opening these stories and experiences from the past to researchers and educators today.