Digitising the Opie Papers

One of the aims of the project is to digitise and transform an important resource of cultural memory at the Bodleian Libraries: a collection of accounts of play from 20,000 UK children in the 1950s and 60s by folklorists Iona and Peter Opie. The internationally significant collection, the basis of the seminal work on play by folklorists Iona (1923- ) and Peter Opie (1918-1982), contains contributions by thousands of British children from the 1950s until the 1980s.

From the Opie papers at the Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford

The Bodleian Imaging Centre will digitise Series 1 of the Opie Papers (approximately 40,000 pages) under the supervision of Susan Thomas at the Bodleian Library. Folklore studies specialists Julia Bishop and Steve Roud will catalogue these papers, generating new classifications that will correspond both to scholarly needs and to those of other users – especially children. This will require co-creating new classification systems with children, based on the types of game (using balls, walls or clapping), and the scenarios used (e.g. magic, love, friendship, zombies). The digitisation and metadata creation will enable the development of virtual immersive worlds based on the archive and inform features of the experimental smart playgrounds. The digitised materials will also provide a lasting legacy from the project as part of a publicly accessible searchable website, designed and hosted by the Digital Humanities Institute at the University of Sheffield.


Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford