By Charlotte McMillan, Founder, Storychest
Introduction from Nicola Bingham, Lead Curator, Web Archiving, British Library
Today is World Digital Preservation Day (WDPD), a celebration of all things digital preservation which is organised by the Digital Preservation Coalition and held annually on the first Thursday of November.
To mark todayâs WDPD, the UK Web Archive is highlighting the âChildren of Lockdownâ project, a recent addition to the Archive which exemplifies the diversity of voices captured in the Archive and highlights the importance of preserving our digital legacy.
Charlotte McMillan, founder of Storychest and curator of the âChildren of Lockdownâ project writes:
âLockdown has been like a question mark in the middle of a sentence. Unexpected, confusing and stressfulâ, observes Yilu, 14, from London, in one of 200 thoughtful and powerful responses to lockdown and Covid19 from children aged 3 to 17, spanning the whole of United Kingdom and from as far afield as Australia.
In July this year, children were asked to contribute to a âdigital time capsuleâ to be included by the British Library in the UK Web Archiveâs Covid19 collection. The resulting group of stories, poems and artwork, is insightful and poignant, and whilst it reflects anxiety and, in some cases, profound sadness, it is also imbued with humour, imagination and enduring hope. Disruption to education, distancing from friends and family and uncertainty about the future, are themes which have been captured through the lenses and with the clarity of the voices of the children themselves, a generation whose lives have been affected by the pandemic in so many ways.
The âChildren of Lockdownâ collection was initiated by Charlotte McMillan, mother of 3 boys and founder of Storychest, the private digital memory box app. Witnessing the impact of the upheaval of lockdown restrictions, she encouraged her own children to record their impressions of this unprecedented period of time.
Charlotte studied history at university and remembers the amazement she felt at exploring on microfiche newspaper articles stored by the British Library from a century ago to help her to understand how events were perceived contemporaneously. She wanted to enable todayâs children to record their thoughts and impressions in a lasting way, to help future generations to understand what they were going through. So, Charlotte, together with a group of 5 British childrenâs authors put the word out to schools and other groups for childrenâs submissions.
The children have captured enduring and iconic snapshots like the âclap for carersâ, PE with Joe Wicks, the run on loo paper, empty streets and the emergence of nature, including goats taking over Llandudno.
Maddy, 15, from London drew herself in monochrome, with the now all too familiar accessory of a mask, eyes peering knowingly at the viewer.
Tiggy, 10, from Kent felt trapped and isolated away from her friends, so drew herself behind prison bars in her own home, but added hope to her work by overlaying a rainbow in pastels.
Charlotteâs son Sholto, 14, pictured himself caught inside his phone, referencing the use of devices in lockdown as both a window to the outside world and a trap.
There are stories of imagination and escapism: Flora, 10, from Wallingford likened the virus to a wandering wolf âpacing the fence lineâ outside her home; Joseph, 8, from Nottingham, missing playing football, invented games using Lego, âHarry Potter, racing through on his broomstick to smash it in the goal. Godzilla in goal, nobody could beat himâ.
Incredibly brave Emma, 11, from Derbyshire, was being treated for a brain tumour during lockdown. She reflected on happy moments sat on a best friendâs drive for a chat and also describes sadness that her mum was not able to be with her, due to the restrictions, when she rang the hospital bell to mark the end of her treatment.
Siomha, 11, from London grieves for the death of a beloved great uncle, who had been known as the âbaby whispererâ for his calming effect on her as a baby: âWhere is my baby whisperer? This time he cannot stop the tears, because this time I weep for him.â
And yet, through it all, there is hope. Maddy, 15, from Exeter, creates a lockdown mural in her bedroom to show hope for her family and friends. Saanvi, 11, from Leamington Spa, remembering Dumbledoreâs words âHappiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the lightâ, reflects that âmankind will get through any crisis and discover positivity even where it seems impossible to findâ.
Kenzi, 12, from Chesterfield who is autistic and found lockdown to be a particularly anxious time, sums it up beautifully, in his poem âLife in Lockdownâ:
When normality returns
2020 will be remembered
In our broken battered hearts
As the time the world finally united
By staying apart
The Children of Lockdown collection can be viewed in full at https://childrenoflockdown.storychest.com/
The UK Web Archive Coronavirus Collection can be viewed here: https://www.webarchive.org.uk/en/ukwa/collection/2975