U of A libraries documenting COVID-19 experiences in state


FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (News Release) – The University of Arkansas Libraries’ Special Collections division and Arkansas Folk and Traditional Arts seek to preserve the personal COVID-19 experiences of U of A students, faculty and staff. Stories can be submitted online.

“We tend to wait until long after events occur to collect oral histories and document our experiences,” said Virginia Siegel, folklorist. “But I think it’s important — more than ever — to start the documentation process now while we are still experiencing this fundamental shift in how we experience our daily lives.”

Arkansas residents who are not students, faculty or staff at the U of A are encouraged to connect with the Arkansas Folk and Traditional Arts directly. The Documenting COVID-19 page provides tips, suggested questions and resources for recording oral histories. AFTA is working to record oral histories remotely with community members across the state. You also have the option to record and submit an oral history of your own making.

Suggestions for documenting your experience include:

  • A journal or blog of your thoughts and experiences
  • Taking photos and/or videos of life as you see it
  • Recording voice memos
  • Interviewing friends or family for an oral history
  • Saving social media posts
  • Collecting emails that Arkansas-based businesses or organizations send you about COVID-19 related closings or precautions

If you would like to conduct an oral history yourself, you can interview a friend or family member remotely, interview someone within your household, or conduct a self-oral history and record your own answers to oral history questions. If you are interviewing others, please practice all recommended guidelines for social distancing to keep yourself and those around you safe.

“This is a unique time in our collective history, and we feel it is important to document events and stories from our community,” said Amy Allen, university archivist.

Topics of interest for the project include but are not limited to stories about remote learning at the university, off-campus jobs (in retail, the service industry, grocery stores, etc.), the ways you are staying in touch with family and friends during this period of social distancing and self-quarantine, the challenges for international students or those with families abroad, experiences of faculty and staff working remotely, experiences of staff who remain on campus, and how this event is impacting you.

Submissions from U of A students, faculty and staff can be sent online via the library’s website.

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