Special Collections and Archives does not need to tell you about these “unprecedented times,” a phrase working overtime these days. But we want to share our efforts to capture what is happening during the pandemic, both collecting records of the University’s efforts and administration as well as snapshots of life outside the boundaries of campus.
We write regularly about collecting the University’s records, which is a central aspect of our work. To illustrate, here’s our map of University departments and entities, many of which have physical or digital collection items; some University records are available online through our Digital Collections. During the pandemic, we have continued to add University-related websites to our University Archives collection using the Archive-It tool and to add University videos and documents to our COVID-specific collection.
WFU faculty, staff, students, and alumni have published COVID-19 related videos and publications online via social media platforms, University web pages, and other internet platforms. To ensure future access, SCA is actively identifying, collecting and creating metadata to preserve these important items. We are then sharing them within our Deacon Experiences during COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Pandemic collection.
Items are regularly added to this online collection as they are identified and processed. In addition to creating metadata, some items must be converted to archival file formats. The subject matter includes wholehearted messages, informational sessions, and even a theatrical trailer to promote an online chemistry class.
SCA is also inviting community members to donate their personal records to our COVID collection, as team Director Tanya Zanish-Belcher wrote about in April. If you have something you’d like to share, we would love to include it in our records.
We understand, intimately, that everyone’s experience of this time has been different: falling ill or not, essential work or layoffs, caring for family or being isolated away from them, embracing reopening fully or slowly figuring out what it looks like for you and yours. And the evidence of our varied experiences is thus varied too: some folks have been finding outlets in photography, artwork, technology, long walks. Some of us (or maybe all of us, at different times) have found distraction and comfort in activities that leave few traces: long phone calls with friends, television show marathons, making or ordering favorite foods. So you may not have records of this time, especially those that you want captured in University archives: that’s okay too.
We are able to accept items anonymously and, of course, will continue to add items and collections for decades to come that reflect this time. Please contact us at email@example.com with questions or submit your signs of the times.