Iowa State University Library records and preserves firsthand accounts of Iowans impacted by COVID-19

AMES, IA – A new initiative from the Iowa State University Library helps Iowans chronicle and preserve their COVID-19 experiences, sharing their stories with the world and impacting future research. 

The COVID-19 Stories Project, created by the Department of Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA), helps capture the reality of a global pandemic through the lens of every Iowan. Whether you’re a parent adjusting to homeschooling, an essential worker balancing safety and duty, or a person who has dealt with the heartbreak of losing a loved one, your perspective matters and will give future scholars a glimpse into these extraordinary circumstances.

“We are all navigating an unprecedented time in history,” said Daniel Hartwig, head of SCUA. “Hundreds of years from now, when scholars and researchers look back on COVID-19, we want them to have a true understanding of the diverse perspectives and experiences throughout our state. From farmers in rural Iowa to graduating seniors, everyone has a story to tell.” 

To capture the diverse experiences across the state, individuals can select one of the three breakout projects/categories below.

  • ISU Stories: This project seeks to record how ISU students, faculty, staff, and alumni are responding to and dealing with the effects of COVID-19.
  • Agriculture, Food, and Rural Stories: This project focuses on the effects of COVID-19 on rural and small-town life, people’s relations to agriculture and local food systems, and cooking during the pandemic. 
  • Chronicling Race and Ethnicity During COVID-19: This project seeks to record the experiences of communities of color that have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19, and/or have experienced harassment and stigmatization. 

Story submissions can take many forms, including short notes, essays, poems, audio and video recordings, and photo collages. Individuals can also sign up to be interviewed for an oral history via Zoom.

Materials submitted will be added to a digital collection and made available online as the university’s contribution to the historical record of these events.

“This program is an excellent example of the work SCUA performs to capture and preserve the records and history of the university and Iowa communities,” said Hilary Seo, interim dean of the University Library. “SCUA is recording the personal impact of a global pandemic and then sharing the knowledge with students, researchers, Iowans, and the world, reflecting and supporting our land-grant mission.”

Before submitting, please note that important information for historians includes times and dates of events, observations, and entries; names of geographic locations, organizations, and people; and other factual information that provides context to your story. Aside from names, do not include personal information, such as addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses, of any individuals, including yourself. 

For additional help getting started or to sign up for individual online consulting, the Writing and Media Center is partnering with SCUA to help individuals hone their narratives.  

To check out writing prompts, submit your story, or review terms and conditions, visit specialcollections.lib.iastate.edu/about/projects/covid-19. For questions, email archives@iastate.edu.

Contacts:

Daniel Hartwig, University Library Special Collections and University Archives head, dhartwig@iastate.edu

Nacuya Rucker, University Library external relations director, nrucker@iastate.edu