Collecting COVID

Scientist using safety cabinet by john cairns


The History of Science Museum and the Bodleian Libraries have joined forces to collect the stories of the COVID-19 pandemic – and the extraordinary responses to this global challenge from across our divisions, departments, faculties and colleges. All staff and students are invited to share objects, documents and personal stories from this period.

We are delighted to be working together with the Bodleian Libraries so that we can share the stories of Oxford science with the wider public and academics alike.

Silke Ackerman standing in the Science Museum

Dr Silke Ackermann, Director of the History of Science Museum

The material collected and appropriately preserved now will enable future generations to understand how the University rose to the challenge in its extraordinary response to the global pandemic – and the impact of this response on members of the University.

How will it work?

Thanks to a recent grant award from the E P A Cephalosporin Fund, the History of Science Museum is recruiting a dedicated Collecting COVID Curator, and the Bodleian Libraries a dedicated Archivist for the project.

For the next two years they will work in close partnership to identify, collect, catalogue and preserve the objects and stories of COVID-19. These will be used for future research, displays and public engagement projects.

The Collecting COVID project already has the support of key players in the University, including those involved in the development of the Oxford vaccine.


I am enormously proud to be collaborating with the History of Science Museum and the Bodleian Libraries, which are so uniquely placed to share the stories of Oxford science and to shine greater light on our endeavours to make the world a better place.

professor andrew pollard

Professor Andrew Pollard, Director of the Oxford Vaccine Group and Chief Investigator of the Oxford COVID-19 Vaccine Clinical Trials

What’s being collected?

Any artefact, memory or record that helps to tell the story of the University’s response to the pandemic is of interest. The project has already been promised some particularly fascinating materials, including:

  • equipment used in the development and delivery of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine, including a vial used to administer the second dose to Professor Sarah Gilbert and the glass safety cabinet from the University's Clinical Biomanufacturing Facility (pictured in use at the top of the page)
  • stories of the clinical delivery of the vaccine programme
  • a prototype ventilator developed by a team in MPLS, and
  • a bottle of beer that a local brewery created especially for the Oxford Vaccine Group to thank them for their essential work.

Who can get involved?

Everyone! Of course, not all of us have been directly involved with the research, but the roles of all University members during the pandemic have contributed in some way to enabling it. 

We have also all had to adapt and cope with unprecedented circumstances during this period to deliver our services, so please do consider what you or your team may be able to contribute to help share our story with future generations.

The sorts of materials and memories we hope to uncover through this project are surprisingly vulnerable to loss. It is timely to start the process of gathering these things to make sure they survive to inform future research and reflection.

Susan Thomas viewing museum archives by John Cairns


Susan Thomas, Head of Archives and Modern Manuscripts at the Bodleian Libraries

The process is straightforward and aims to make getting in touch as simple as possible. Please email details of your proposed submissions to:

The Collecting COVID team will come back to you with further information on next steps.