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This COVID-19 Oral History Project is housed at the IUPUI Arts & Humanities Institute. This project is the result of the collective efforts of graduate students in the IUPUI Public History and American Studies Programs.
The COVID-19 Oral History Project is inspired by the “Rapid Response Collecting” approach that has been used in the public history and museum context for decades–primarily as a way to collect the stories, material culture, digital creations, and ephemera of historical events.
Notable examples of “rapid response collecting” include the 911history.net project by the Museum of the City of New York and the National Museum of American History; the multiple projects associated with the Women’s Marches of 2017 and 2018; the One Orlando Collection created by Pamela Schwartz of the Orange County Regional History Center in Florida; the collections that emerged from the memorials and protests related to the deaths of Freddie Gray and Michael Brown that are curated by the National Museum of African American History and Culture; and the Tragedy at Virginia Tech Collection created by Roger Christman for the Library of Virginia.
Professional organizations and institutions have increasingly recognized the importance of developing rapid response collections and policies to guide their work. In February 2018, The Public Historian published a series of essays that highlighted the importance of rapid response collecting in its “Roundtable: Responding Rapidly to Our Communities.” And, the Victoria and Albert Museum has even devoted a portion of its galleries to rapid response collecting.
While much rapid response collecting tends to focus on material culture, anthropologists have demonstrated the value of rapid response ethnography in times of crisis. For example, anthropologists released the “Ebola Response Anthropology Platform” in October 2014 as a way to work with clinicians to create more effective responses to outbreaks. Likewise, oral history practitioners have long conducted interviews during moments of crisis as is illustrated Mark Cave and Stephen M. Sloan’s Listening on the Edge: Oral History in the Aftermath of Crisis (2014).
The COVID-19 Oral History Project draws inspiration from these projects in an attempt to collect the experiences of individuals living through a modern pandemic. Because of restrictions on face-to-face interaction across most of the United States, the oral histories from this project will primarily be conducted through the technologies of teleconferencing and telephone. Because of this, the recordings are not just documents; they embody the primary material form in which social interaction takes place during a modern pandemic.
The COVID-19 Oral History Project is a rapid response oral history focused on archiving the lived experience of the COVID-19 epidemic.
We have designed this project so that professional researchers and the broader public can create and upload their oral histories to our database.
All the data that participants collect and produce will be open access, open source and shared with researchers and the public through GitHub.
The dataset will serve as an historical archive that compiles oral histories about the experience of living through the covid-19 pandemic:
The COVID-19 Oral History Project uses approaches grounded in oral history best practices as defined by the Oral History Association (“Principles for Oral History and Best Practices for Oral History” ) as well as in the anthropological code of ethics as defined by the American Anthropological Association (“Principles of Professional Responsibility”).
What to Submit
You can record an oral history using your smartphone or tablet, a computer, or a recording device. Find the quietest room you can and place the recording device in front of you–ideally within two feet of where you are sitting.
In a traditional oral history project, interviewers ask question to interviewees, which often takes the form of a conversation. In this project, you will, in effect, be interviewing yourself. To help you with this process, we have created a set of questions for you to answer. These questions cover a range of topics that will help future researchers better understand how people experienced the COVID-19 pandemic.
The questions below are prompts to help you complete your own oral history. You can answer all of them or some of them. And, you can add your own questions. You do not have to complete questions in the order listed below. You do not have to record your answers in a single sitting, but if you record your answers on multiple dates, please be sure to include the date and time at the beginning of any new recording sessions.
Please remember that any answers you give will be included in a publicly accessible database, so please do not share any information that you would not like to be publicly available.
Be sure to turn on your recording device before you begin answering these questions.
How to Submit
Upload your recording here.
QUESTIONS? Contact Jason Kelly, firstname.lastname@example.org
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