About the Collection


This project is concerned with the archival collection of Iona and Peter Opie relating to the play and cultural traditions of school-aged children. It covers the period c.1950 - c.2000. The bulk of the collection comes from the period 1950 - 1980 during which approximately 20,000 children from schools all over Britain responded to a series of surveys undertaken by the Opies. These responses, supplemented by Iona Opie’s fieldwork in her local school playground in Liss, Hampshire, and sound recordings made in various parts of Britain, formed the basis of the Opies' publications on children’s folklore, language and play. ┬áThe collection also comprises the loose-leaf folders pertaining to specific games, customs, beliefs, songs and rhymes compiled by the Opies as part of their research.


The collection comprises handwritten and typescript papers, newspaper clippings, photographs and sound recordings made on open reel and cassette tape. The largest part of the collection is held at the Bodleian Libraries and comprises the responses from children to the Opies' surveys, the Opies' correspondence with adults, newspaper cuttings, and the Opies' files of excerpted examples and research notes. A further, smaller part of the collection is held in the Folklore Society archives and contains correspondence and newspaper cuttings relating to children's play, custom and belief. The audio materials are deposited at the British Library Sound Archive and comprise 85 recordings, mainly of children’s singing games, made by Iona Opie.