Telling Our Stories: A COVID-19 Documentation Project

Telling Our Stories: A COVID-19 Documentation Project
Rozlind Koester
Assistant Archivist for Outreach and Instruction

Often and especially in challenging times, historical documentation can provide wisdom and warning, insight and inspiration. When people look back on the COVID-19 pandemic, they will turn to information preserved by current generations to learn what happened, who was impacted and how we coped, and why we responded in certain ways. Just as archival records allow us to access stories of hope and resilience from the flu epidemic a century ago, so might our peers and colleagues of the future use historical records to make connections between themselves and the past. We are seeking your help in ensuring that this historical record is created and maintained.

Drawing depiction of Miss Mead with the text "Miss Mead Combatting the Flu"Western students, staff, and faculty are living through truly historic times. The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted nearly every aspect of our lives in ways we could have hardly imagined. Western Libraries Heritage Resources is working to create a digital archive to document the experiences of Western students, staff, and faculty who have had to make dramatic adjustments to their scholarly, professional, and personal lives in response to COVID-19.

Heritage Resources consists of University Archives and Records Management, Special Collections, and the Center for Pacific Northwest Studies, which work together to document the culture and history of Western, the community, state, region, and world. Part of our mission is to serve as “memory keepers” for the Western and broader community: to empower people to draw on the lessons of the past.

This work involves shared stewardship with the groups and individuals from whom we collect and who are represented in the collections, and through this process we learn alongside the constituencies that we serve. During fall quarter, Heritage Resources will be seeking stories, photographs, recordings of WWU-sponsored programming, official university memos and directives, art and poetry, and other documentation that chronicles this time through your voices. If you are interested in contributing to this project, we invite you to share your stories about how the pandemic has impacted you and those close to you by writing a paragraph or two describing your personal experiences. You may consider questions such as:

  • How has the pandemic changed your daily routines, and the ways in which you engage with your community, colleagues, peers, family and friends?
  • What do you want future generations to know about this time or about Western’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic?
  • How has the pandemic affected you or your loved ones? What activities have you engaged in to help others, and how have you been helped during this time?
  • What has the pandemic revealed to you about social injustices and inequities inherent in our society?
  • What lessons can be learned from the challenges our community is currently facing? What do you hope for in a post-COVID world?


Submissions can be made online via the form provided on the project website, which can be found at this link: Material that is collected will be preserved and made available to future generations. Heritage Resources is committed to protecting individual privacy and confidentiality, and we will not retain content relating to personal health information. Individuals also have the option to submit their pieces anonymously if they wish.

For more information, or to learn about possible donation of other digital or physical records related to COVID-19 experiences, please contact Elizabeth Joffrion, Director of Heritage Resources, at or (360) 650-3283.

Published on: 10/04/2020 - 9:14am