the
covid-19
oral history project

About

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 the IUPUI Library and the Covid-19 Archive.

The dataset will serve as

  1. an historical archive that compiles oral histories about the experience of living through the COVID-19 pandemic.

  2. a tool that allows individuals and communities to express their understandings, hopes, beliefs, and values about the COVID-19 pandemic.

  3. a resource to help researchers, policy makers, activists, artists, and communities interpret and respond to current and future pandemics.

Based at IUPUI, this project emerged from the collective efforts of graduate students in the IUPUI Public History and American Studies Programs. The COVID-19 Oral History Project is housed at the IUPUI Arts & Humanities Institute. We are a partner project with The Journal of the Plague Year: An Archive of Covid19.

Get Involved

Would you like to participate in The COVID-19 Oral History Project, either as an interviewer or an interviewee? Or would you like to leave your own history in our database?

Interviewer

Click on the image above if you would like to conduct and collect oral histories for The Covid-19 Oral History Project.

Interviewee

Click on the image above if you would like to share your story with The Covid-19 Oral History Project.


Methodology

Context

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.

Approach

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”).

Approach 1: Traditional Oral Histories

This approach consists of traditional oral history interviews conducted by scholars trained in oral history methodology as well as members of the public who receive training through oral history workshops.

Approach 2: Crowdsourced Oral Histories

This approach equips members of the public with a set of questions and basic techniques so that they can create their own oral histories. Members of the public can record their own oral histories and upload them to our database.

Bibliography

Brady, Meghan. “Contemporaneous Collecting: A New Trend in Field Collection.” MA Thesis, Seton Hall University, 2019. https://scholarship.shu.edu/dissertations/2697.

Cave, Mark, and Stephen M. Sloan. Listening on the Edge: Oral History in the Aftermath of Crisis. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014.

Cohen-Stratyner, Barbara. “What Democracy Looks like: Crowd-Collecting Protest Materials.” Museums & Social Issues 12, no. 2 (2017): 83–91. https://doi.org/10.1080/15596893.2017.1364571.

Hawkins, Callie. “‘The Discourse We All Need So Seriously’: An Evening of Reflection at the Lincoln Cottage.” The Public Historian 40, no. 1 (February 1, 2018): 97–104. https://doi.org/10.1525/tph.2018.40.1.97.

Schwartz, Pamela, Whitney Broadaway, Emilie S. Arnold, Adam M. Ware, and Jessica Domingo. “Rapid-Response Collecting after the Pulse Nightclub Massacre.” The Public Historian 40, no. 1 (February 1, 2018): 105–14. https://doi.org/10.1525/tph.2018.40.1.105.

Schwartz, Pamela. “Preserving History as It Happens: Why and How the Orange County Regional History Center Undertook Rapid Response Collecting after the Pulse Nightclub Shooting.” Museum 97, no. 3 (June 2018): 16–19.

Tindal, Brenda. “K(NO)W Justice K(NO)W Peace: The Making of a Rapid-Response Community Exhibit.” The Public Historian 40, no. 1 (February 1, 2018): 87–96. https://doi.org/10.1525/tph.2018.40.1.87.

Research Team

Director

  • Jason M. Kelly PHD; Director, IUPUI Arts & Humanities Institute and Professor of History, IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI

Advisory Board

  • Liza Black PHD; Assistant Professor of History and the Native American and Indigenous Studies Program, IU Bloomington

  • Victoria Cain, PHD; Associate Professor of History, Northeastern University

  • Cheryl Jiménez Frei PHD, Assistant Professor of Public History and Latin American History, University of Wisconsin Eau-Claire

  • Mark Tebeau PHD, Associate Professor of History, Arizona State University

  • Rebecca Wingo PHD, Assistant Professor of History and the Director of Public History, University of Cincinnati

Researchers

  • Corey Barr, Independent Researcher

  • Liza Black PHD; Assistant Professor of History and the Native American and Indigenous Studies Program, IU Bloomington

  • Hilary Blum, Graduate Student, Claremont Graduate University

  • Haley Brinker, Graduate Student, IUPUI Public History Program

  • Alexis Butterworth, Graduate Student, IUPUI Public History Program

  • Victoria Cain, PHD; Associate Professor of History, Northeastern University

  • Kathleen Conti; Graduate Student, Historic Preservation and Architectural History, University of Texas at Austin; historian and architectural historian at HHM & Associates

  • Carmen Coury PHD, Assistant Professor of History, Southern Connecticut State University

  • Abby Currier, Graduate Student, IUPUI Public History Program

  • Noah Dahlquist, Graduate Student, IUPUI Public History Program

  • David Duncan, Graduate Student, History, UC Santa Cruz

  • Emily Leiserson, Graduate Student, IUPUI American Studies Program

  • Shonda Nicole Gladden, Graduate Student, IUPUI American Studies Program

  • Stephen Good, Graduate Student, IUPUI Public History Program

  • John Horan, Graduate Student, History, Arizona State University

  • Helen Jesse, Graduate Student, IUPUI Public History Program

  • Cheryl Jiménez Frei PHD, Assistant Professor of Public History and Latin American History, University of Wisconsin Eau-Claire

  • Nicholas K. Johnson MA, Deputy Head, Center for German-American Educational History, Universität Münster

  • Jason M. Kelly PHD; Director, IUPUI Arts & Humanities Institute and Professor of History, IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI

  • Leeah Mahon, Graduate Student, IUPUI Public History Program

  • Glennda McGann MNM MA, Development and Engagement Director, The International Center, Indianapolis

  • Kyle Minor, Associate Professor of English, Indiana University School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI

  • Megan Owens, Graduate Student, IUPUI Public History Program

  • Lydia Prebish, Graduate Student, IUPUI Public History Program

  • Caitlin Rather, Independent Scholar

  • Nicole Rodrigues, Graduate Student, IUPUI Public History Program

  • Kyle Sauley, Graduate Student, IUPUI Public History Program

  • Hannah Smith, Graduate Student, IUPUI Public History Program

  • Regan Steimel, Graduate Student, IUPUI Public History Program

  • Kyle Wertz, Graduate Student, IUPUI Public History Program

  • Rebecca Wingo PHD, Assistant Professor of History and the Director of Public History, University of Cincinnati

  • Nancy Yerian, Graduate Student, IUPUI Public History Program