Documenting the COVID-19 Pandemic

Image of a handwritten letter with text reading 'Documenting the COVID-19 Pandemic, a project by the Walter Havighurst Special Collections and University Archives' with red border

Call for volunteers

Everyone’s everyday life has been touched or disrupted since the first appearance of the current pandemic, COVID-19. The adjustments we make, the emotions we feel, and the actions we take will one day be the subject of historical studies. 

In an effort to capture the lived experiences by members of the Miami University community, the Walter Havighurst Special Collections and University Archives invites you to keep a journal documenting your life during this pandemic. Journalists may type or write by hand, transcribe news, draw or compose memes, compose poems, gather stories and so forth. No stress needs to be placed on “good grammar”, spelling, or style. The emphasis is on self-expression, candor and a willingness to be a social commentator.

Events are changing by the day. They are specific to you, and to your families and friends and communities. Please start writing now! 

Want to participate?

Please fill out this Google form to help us gather your contact information. We’ll send you more information about submission procedures in the coming few weeks! We are willing to accept both paper and digital submissions. For questions, please contact the Walter Havighurst Special Collections and University Archives.

Rachel Makarowski (Special Collections Librarian) and Jacky Johnson (University Archivist)

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can my journal be anonymous?

Yes, of course! You may submit your journal anonymously, and must make this stipulation in your donation form when you are ready to submit. Please be sure that if you wish to remain anonymous that you do not self-identify in your journal.

Will these journals be made public? How will they be used?

These journals will be accessible to the public so that scholars may use them, and may be used for classroom instruction and outreach activities (e.g. exhibitions). However, you may choose when donating your journal to have it sealed for up to 50 years. In doing so, it will be inaccessible to the public for the duration of time that it is sealed. Your name will be attached to this journal if you do not choose to submit anonymously, even if it is sealed.  

I want to respect the privacy of others, including family and friends. How can I better protect their privacy?

If you are describing the person, but don’t want to name them, you may give them a pseudonym or redact their names. Focusing also on the reactions you have to your interactions with them, including what you felt during those interactions, will also help to keep their privacy.

Is there a limit to how much we can submit?

There is not currently a limit to how much a person can submit. We do ask, however, that you inform us of what types of materials you plan to submit so that we can properly prepare, and may decline a submission if we feel that we cannot properly store it OR if it falls out of scope of the project. Please contact us if you have further questions about this. 

Can we use vulgar/curse words in our submission?

Yes; this qualifies as a form of self-expression.

Are there any questions or prompts you would like me to consider in writing/creating my journal?

Consider writing about the ways in which your life has changed since the start of the pandemic. What is different about attending your classes online? What was that switch like? If you have children, how are you now balancing child care with your work? What are you anxious about, and what are you thankful for? Maybe you work as an “essential” employee, or are working in healthcare. What are those experiences like? What are your reactions to the news? This is by no means an exhaustive list, and there is no “right” way of journaling. Although some of what you record may seem mundane to you, those experiences will be instrumental and exciting to future researchers.

How often do I need to write? Does it have to be daily?

Participants may write as often as they wish and/or are able to write. The need for quality in this case surpasses the need for frequency. That being said, please write as frequently with as much detail as you are able.

I am not a student/faculty member/alumni of Miami but my spouse/children are. Can I still participate?

Of course you can! You can even include them in your journal by interviewing them, photographing them, writing about them, etc. If they are interested, you can also encourage them to volunteer for this project. Please contact us if you have further questions.

How often do I need to submit? Is there a final deadline for when this needs to be done by?

Please only submit once. You may make your submission when you feel that you are done. Let a project coordinator (myself or Jacky Johnson) know that you are ready to submit so that we can get you the donor agreement/permissions form that will need to accompany your journal.

Why am I required to complete a permission form?

They protect your rights as both an individual and a donor.

Is this a part of a larger project? Will it be published in any way?

This will become its own collection. There are no plans to publish the journals. The project itself might be published, but no journals or entries from them will be used, nor will donor information be given away. We want to make sure that the privacy of those participating in this project is respected.

I am already keeping a journal for a course. Would I be able to submit that?

Students of Miami may include course work in their entries if they would like, but will need to complete a FERPA permissions form at the time of donation. This form will be given to donors at the time of submission.

How do I submit my journal?

We are currently working on a submission form. We will send the submission form to participants when it is ready. We will keep you updated on all aspects of the project through email and the project page.