In March 2021, I undertook a five-day Micro-Internship with the Oxford Heritage Network alongside three other brilliant interns. Despite being remote, it has been a really positive experience making new connections and learning about heritage in the university and beyond. Our job was to find heritage projects across divisions and identify problems with their online accessibility. For researchers and the general public, knowing where to find information and being able to access it in a user-friendly way is crucial.
My role was to look at the History Department, TORCH, Music Department and GLAM for past and ongoing projects. Visiting individual department websites, I began by searching key terms like ‘heritage,’ ‘material culture,’ ‘built environment’ and ‘historic environment’ to find a range of projects which demonstrated the diverse nature of the heritage sector. One of our key findings was how difficult it is to identify projects as current or closed, and how content is often migrated to new sites without updating; raising important questions for departmental communications strategy. How are sites linked from the main department page? Who is responsible for the page and ensuring it is up-to-date? When is it useful to have a separate page for a project and is it always necessary? As the world digs into more digital modes of communication, answering these questions and staying up to date online is an area of concern especially when it comes to preserving and presenting the past.
This project contributes to the ultimate goal of creating a research map showing Oxford University’s global engagement. Heritage is a really unique sector in crossing divisions and continuing to shape meaning in the present, exemplified by projects like History and Mysteries of Oxford Stone Heads, Heritage Heads and Tomorrow’s Oxford Heads which researched the Sheldonian heads from interdisciplinary perspectives of archaeology, conservation, and diverse modern identities in art (“Heritage Heads”). Projects like this have led to worthwhile collaborations within and across departments which grow our understanding of material objects like the Sheldonian heads, but also connect cutting edge research to public engagement and provide a model for future collaboration.
Overall, I have really enjoyed and learned from this internship with the Oxford Heritage Network. I knew I was interested in working in heritage, but didn’t realize quite how many meanings ‘heritage’ can have! As the Oxford Heritage Network goes forward with its work to create more easily accessible online content, it will be a joy to see researchers and the public continue to engage with the vibrant opportunities for heritage work here at Oxford and globally.
Chloe Williams is a second-year undergraduate studying History at Wadham. She has previously worked with the Fine Tool Journal's collection of antique hand tools and remains passionate about material culture, unique collections and heritage. This was her first experience with the Oxford Heritage Network.
TORCH Heritage Programme Homepage