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The Oxford Project

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4.18 of 5 stars 4.18  ·  rating details  ·  539 ratings  ·  152 reviews
In 1984, photographer Peter Feldstein set out to photograph every single resident of his town, Oxford, Iowa (pop. 676). He converted an abandoned storefront on Main Street into a makeshift studio and posted fliers inviting people to stop by. At first they trickled in slowly, but in the end, nearly all of Oxford stood before Feldstein's lens. Twenty years later, Feldstein d...more
Hardcover, 287 pages
Published September 16th 2008 by Welcome Books
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,636)
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Kelli
As a Sociology nerd this book was like crack. I devoured it in a matter of hours. I want all my friends to read it. I want to look these people up on Twitter and ask about them. I'm so curious to know more about them but honestly I feel as if I already do. While I don't live in Oxford Iowa these were my neighbors, these people were my grandparents, my mother and father, my friends, teachers and cousins. I knew these people without ever having met them. Reading this book is one of those wonderful...more
Sarah
The Oxford Project
By Peter Feldstein
287 pages

The Oxford Project is a very fascinating book. Through the lens of Peter Feldstein’s camera, we are able to see nearly every resident of Oxford, Iowa over a twenty year span. In 1984 Feldstein set up his camera in an empty storefront and invited every person in Oxford to come in and have his or her picture taken. He shot 670 out of the 676 in the town at the time. Over twenty years later in 2005, Feldstein set up a camera again and photographed all th...more
Jennifer
This coffee table sized book that features black and white photographs of the citizens of a small Iowa town taken over 20 years apart is a serious showstopper. I've been pouring over it for almost a month, reading and re-reading sections and looking into the honest, hardworking faces of these people that I now feel like I know. Each set of photos is accompanied by a short bio, written by photo's subject. Some are funny, some are sad or regretful, but my favorite would have to be this quote from...more
Ken
Feb 01, 2009 Ken rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who grew up or has lived in a small town.
Shelves: nonfiction
In 1984, photographer Peter Feldstein decided to photograph all 676 residents of his adopted home town of Oxford, Iowa. Twenty years later, he continued the project by phtographing as many residents from the initial sessions as possible. The book shows both photographs, and for many of the residents, Stephen G. Bloom has written brief first-person narratives drawn from interviews.

This is a fascinating book. The stark black and white portraits give you an instant sense of the person, and it it re...more
elissa
Apr 04, 2009 elissa rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who like sociology, geneaology, and personal art
Recommended to elissa by: Jennifer Hubert's review
This big coffetable book was absolutely fascinating. It's an art project by a self-proclaimed obsessive (he's counted things all of his life). An art teacher at the U of Iowa moved to a small town near the university in 1984 and took pictures of everybody in the town, partly as a way to get to know all of the people there better. 20 years later, he took pictures of as many of the same people as he could, and had them tell a little bit about their lives. You get a very clear picture of life in th...more
oriana
This book is very cool. A guy went to a tiny town in Ohio(?) in the eighties and did portraits of everyone. He combined those with short interviews, and did the whole thing as a touring museum exhibit.

So now, twenty-five years later, same guy goes back to same town, to locate as many of the original people as he can. He re-photographs and re-interviews everyone, and I think it'll be a museum thing again, as well as this book.

Yeah, so it's really really neat. The pictures are wonderful, and the i...more
Samantha
A fascinating look at the lives of small town residents and how they have changed over 20 years. Many of them have tragic stories to tell. An engrossing book for anyone who's nosy about other people's lives, like I am. Heh.

Glad I don't live there though. As one might expect, ignorance is commonplace. Still, interesting to see how all these lives have entertwined in various ways.
Meghan
Dec 06, 2008 Meghan rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: art, iowa
In 1984, a photographer took portraits of practically every person living in Oxford, Iowa. Twenty years later he went back and reshot all of them who were still living in the area. The book groups them together in different ways - by family, or a bunch of WWII veterans - and includes excerpts from interviews done with some. Comparing the pictures side-by-side is amazing.
Becky
I wouldn't say that this book was amazing, but the premise of it is quite intriguing. I first heard about it on NPR's list of best books in 2008 and checked out a copy from the library, then thumbed through and read the whole book in one evening. I almost want to take a little vacation to Oxford, Iowa to see how accurate this book's depiction is. :)
Davenport Public Library
In 1984 photographer and University of Iowa art professor Peter Feldstein set out to photograph all 676 residents in his town of Oxford, Iowa. Over the course of the summer he succeeded in photographing 670 individuals “as they were”: in street clothes, some lugging shopping bags or carrying pets or children. Peter returned in 2005 to re-photograph as many of the original residents as he could, this time bringing along University of Iowa journalism professor Stephen Bloom to interview residents....more
Jon Wisniewski
Pretty interesting to see the ways people grow older, and in most cases, fatter.
Arminzerella
Peter Feldstein started the Oxford photography project back in the 1980s – he took photos of all the citizens of the town of Oxford, Iowa. He recently returned to Oxford to re-photograph everyone he could find (he also spent time tracking down others who had moved away) with Stephen Bloom, who helped record and transcribe the stories of what had been happening in their lives since they’d last had their photographs taken. The resulting collection of photos and stories is gorgeous and fascinating...more
Michele Shimp
This book is just so fascinating! [return][return]In 1984, Peter Feldstein decided to photograph everyone in his town of Oxford, Iowa. He thought it would be interesting and over time was able to get all 676 people photographed. He took all full-length photos with equal lights on each side. These pictures were not great artistically. What was interesting was the variety of the townsfolk, their similarities and differences. He had a few gallery shows at the time. [return][return]In 2005, Mr. Feld...more
Luanne Ollivier
I originally thought I would feature The Oxford Project in my regular Over the Counter post on Thursdays. But as I started glancing through it, I knew I wouldn't be able to stop, so I signed it out and took it home. And I was right - I sat and read it in one sitting.

What is The Oxford Project? Photographer Peter Feldstein moved to tiny Oxford, Iowa in 1965. In 1984, he had the idea to photograph every person living in Oxford. (population 693) And twenty years later he photographed them again. (p...more
Lynne Favreau
I read a description of this book on my library site and loved the premise. In 1984, a photographer takes a single picture of almost every resident of his small town, Oxford, Iowa (pop 693, he photographed 670). Twenty years later, he goes back and takes another picture. He found almost everyone, about one-hundred people had died, and another hundred had moved.

For the second round of photos, a friend, author Stephen G. Bloom, interviewed about one-hundred of the residents. They were quite surpri...more
Alyce (At Home With Books)

The Oxford Project; with its photos of the residents of Oxford, Iowa first in 1984 and then twenty years later, contains within its pages a unique way to look at the population of a small town in America. The first set of photos were taken without writing down the people's stories, it was more of a photo-mosaic of the town. When the second group of photos was taken twenty years later there was an interviewer present to write down whatever the people had to say.

The updated photos reflect the inev...more
Anna
The cover of The Oxford Project—a hologram of a little boy and the middle-aged looking man he grows up to be reveals the nature of the photographs in the book. In 1984, Peter Feldstein, a photography professor at the University of Iowa and resident of Oxford, Iowa, sent flyers and letters to his six hundred and seventy-six neighbors, asking to photograph them “as you are, not as you might look in your Sunday best” and display their portraits downtown as part of a project for the “Iowa Arts Counc...more
Katy Jane
1. I first saw this book at Missouri's Library Winter Institute in 2912. We were using it as a pass around book for an exercise. My interest was piqued but since I was at a workshop I wasn't able to read it. The next time I came across this book I had read the PostSecret books by Frank Warren and Goodreads suggested I read this book so I ordered it through Interlibrary loan. Goodreads was right, I did love this book.
2. The stories were so intriguing. The pictures were fascinating. Almost all of...more
Becky
I loved this book. I poured over it for hours. For an urban dweller, I have spent more than a little time in small-town Iowa—so that probably accounts for part of my fascination. But I think this book would have intrigued me anyway.

In 1984 Peter Feldstein, a U. of Iowa art professor, decided to photograph all the residents of the town of Oxford, Iowa (pop. 693). Most Oxford residents—young and old--eventually showed up in Feldstein’s studio to have their individual portraits taken. Each person l...more
Mona
In 1984, photographer Peter Feldstein completed a project to photograph almost every resident of the small town of Oxford, located approximately sixteen miles away from the University of Iowa. Feldstein sent out a letter asking residents to come dressed as they usually were, not "as you might look in your Sunday best" and residents followed his directions. The photographs were displayed in an exhibit in Oxford's American Legion Hall, and then Feldstein stashed the negatives in some file cabinets...more
K.
This book is sheer joy, a great project beautifully executed. Here are pictures of all the residents of a small town in Iowa. The first set of photographs was made in 1984, and the second set was made (of the same people) in 2005-2007. In 2005, the photographer took a writer with him who interviewed all these people about their lives, resulting in a first-person monolog for each one of them. So you get a closeup of a group of people aging in place, living as we all do, each one completely differ...more
Stacey
Absolutely amazing! I was attracted by the photos - by a man who set out TO photograph every person in a rural Iowa town, then returned decades later to photograph them again - but also got totally drawn in by their stories, short bios pulled together by a journalist who accompanied the photographer during his recent return. Together they paint a fascinating portrait of a small town, with quite a cast of characters, some of them really surprising. It makes me want to get to know my neighbors eve...more
April Helms
If I absolutely had to pick a favorite book this year, this is it. The concept is so neat! The Oxford Project is a history record/time capsule of a small town in Iowa. In 1984, photographer Peter Feldstein decided to photograph the residents of Oxford. Nothing posed, just had them stand against a plain background. In 2005, he revisted this project, again taking pictures of as many of the residents he could (some had died, and some had moved). Stephen Bloom conducted interviews with the residents...more
Maureen
In 1984, Peter Feldstein photographed almost all the residents of Oxford, a small town in Iowa. Twenty years later, he retook their photos and Stephen Bloom recorded their stories. This is a slice of small town America, with stories that span the spectrum of emotions: familiar, strange, heartbreaking and heartwarming. Complete with discussion questions, this is a quick but interesting read.
Betsy
Such a fascinating read/look! I became really involved with all the Oxford residents and even read some of the essay interviews to other people as some of them were so...out there, especially the buckskinner father who found religion and became a fundamentalist preacher speaking in tongues and his daughter, the ex-pole dancer, who also found religion and moved back to Oxford to home-school her children in a good Christian curriculum. In some ways many of the residents were quite homogenous but t...more
lia
In 1985 a man decided to photograph every single person in the very small town of Oxford, Iowa, around 650 people.. He slipped a note under every door, and set up shop in a storefront with a sheet over the window. Then, he went back and did it again, between 2005 and 2006.--this time with someone to record their stories. The photos are displayed side by side, with stories about the people, their children, their lives..
This book is absolutely amazing. This project is amazing.
Just a few quotes?

"Al...more
Lisa
May 06, 2009 Lisa rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who drives by homes and wonders what the lives are like of the people who live inside them.
Shelves: wackynonfiction
I picked up this book tonight, intending on just looking through a few pages to keep the house quiet while the boys fell asleep. It's a photography journey of documenting the citizens of the tiny town Oxford, Iowa. In 1984, a photographer took a picture of 670 (like the whole town) persons who lived there. The book is a compilation of those photos plus photographs taken twenty years later, with stories and reminisces of life today and past of the citizens. There’s a lot of text, and at first I w...more
Molly
Dec 04, 2011 Molly rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Molly by: Sarah Arlen
Shelves: non-fiction
I won an Amazon book purchase from Tami @ Just One More Thing and selected this book. I don't buy a lot of books and thought this might be a cool one to have as a coffee table book. I was fascinated by the concept this man had to take one photo of each person in his town. And then to go back all those years later and photograph them again. It was at times very sad to hear the stories of these peoples lives and what had become of them. There are a few that make you angry people can believe the th...more
Mathilde
I will start about by saying that I grew up in small town Iowa, so I was immediately drawn to this book. I found the entire book very intriguing and enjoyable. I loved the photos and the stories. This could have been written about my home town.
Karijeank
I LOVED this book! It was extremely interesting and I loved that I got to look into the lives of people that I never would have even heard about before. This book was a great idea and it lived up to my expectations.
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