Book Review: The Oxford Project

Submitted by teenspace on June 5, 2009 - 3:19pm

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The Oxford Project by Peter Feldstein & Stephen Bloom

Review by Rachel, Librarian, Healdsburg Branch

2009 Alex Award Winner
     "The Alex Awards are given to ten books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults, ages 12 through 18." (YALSA)

Back in 1984, a college professor with a passion for photography moved to the small Midwestern town of Oxford, Iowa. With a population or under 700 people, Stephen Bloom wanted to get to know his new neighbors in a very real way. He decided to send a letter to everyone in town, asking them to come to his studio for a portrait. After making the right friendly connection with one of Oxford’s elders, Bloom was able to photograph all but 7 of the town’s residents. From near new born babies to elders in their nineties, the people of Oxford came to the studio and were photographed as they were. Some were walking their dogs, others coming from the grocery store. One man brought his pet 300 pound lion (no joke!). Satisfied with his work, Bloom put all the negatives from the Oxford Project into a filing cabinet and forgot them. Jump ahead to 2007. Bloom and his colleague Peter Feldstein decided to re-photograph everyone they had seen in 1984. Feldstein interviewed Oxford’s residents about their lives and their relationships to each other. What resulted is a fascinating look at a town and it’s evolution from 1984 to today. Imagine if someone came to your class room or town to record everyone as they are right now. What would you look like in 25 years? See what happened to the people of Oxford, Iowa by reading The Oxford Project by Peter Feldstein and Stephen Bloom.

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