You don’t have to be a professional writer to contribute to a pandemic archive

A woman wearing a black mask and glasses carries a camera down the street.

Prompts

Each organization may have their own guidelines for materials. I recommend checking the website for the pandemic archive you’re interested in.

  • What was your first thought when you learned about the novel coronavirus?
  • At what point did you realize that this had the potential to disrupt daily life? What was your first reaction?
  • How did you prepare? Where did you get your news?
  • Which events and plans did you have to cancel? What are you going to try to do to make up for them in the future?
  • How did you explain the pandemic to your kids? What questions did they have?
  • Did you and your partner have different reactions? (Example: Maybe one was stocking up on food and the other continuing life as normal.) What was that like?
  • Is there anything in your routine that changed in a positive way that you’d like to maintain? (This could include having more family dinners, going on more walks, gardening, or whatever changes you’ve made that you would like to keep.)
  • What were some good things that happened while you were stuck at home? Which memories do you want to hold on to?
  • Why did you decide to begin a pandemic archive?
  • How will you explain the pandemic to future generations? What will you tell them about what it was like to live through it?
A man wearing a medical mask carries a camera and backpack on a busy street.

Pandemic archives for groups

If you are part of a larger organization, such as a local club or church, you may want to consider documenting how your group responded.

Pandemic archives to consider

The State Archives of North Carolina, operated by the NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, is looking for first-person stories related to the pandemic. Suggestions include photos, diaries, oral histories and more.

A hand holding a paintbrush reaches for brown paint. Several open containers of paint in different colors sit on the surface
How are you documenting the pandemic for yourself, your family or group? Photo by russn_fckr on Unsplash

Final considerations

Check the requirements for each pandemic archive before submitting. Note that you may sign over the copyright.

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I. S.

I. S.

Freelance journalist and former newspaper reporter. Writes about the government, historical perspectives, education, the environment and investigative news.