Dawne Dewey is Head of Special Collections and Archives, Wright State University.
Photo: Erin Pence/© Wright State University
Photo: Erin Pence/© Wright State University

Keep a coronavirus diary to help Wright State’s archives document the pandemic

If you’ve been keeping record of your thoughts, feelings and daily activities during the coronavirus pandemic, they will be valuable to future generations. 

Archives across the country, including Wright State University Librarys’ Special Collections and Archives, have put out a call for volunteers to document the pandemic. 

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The archive is collecting diaries, videos, electronic word files and photographs that tell the story of the Miami Valley. 

Whenever national and international events impact people locally, the archive collects stories and experiences from people who are living through it, said Dawne Dewey, head of special collections and archives at Wright State University. 

Milton Wright kept a diary from 1857 to 1917, making daily entries and summarizing each year s highlights and providing a windown into the past.  Wright State University Librarys’ Special Collections and Archives would like people to donate their journals and photos documenting the cornoavirus pandemic. CONTRIBUTED.
Photo: HANDOUT/© Wright State University Photo

“Most people don’t think their stories are important, but someday we’re all going to look back on this and it will be interesting to read people’s accounts. Those kinds of reflections are going to be really important to people in the future.” 

A century ago it was common for people to keep a diary providing us with a reflection of the past, Dewey said. But today we communicate differently — with blogs, Facebook and email — making that information harder for archivists to capture. 

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Individual, family and group experiences are valuable, Dewey said, and will be safeguarded in the archives for people in the future to study. 

“We need to try and get people to understand how important it is for those experiences and those reflections to be put into an archive,” Dewey said. “If we don’t do this now we’re going to lose all of this history.” 

More information can be found on the archive’s blog, Out of the Box.

For questions about the project or to submit a diary, email the Special Collections & Archive staff at library-archives@wright.edu. 

Lisa Rickey, Wright State University  archivist for digital initiatives (left), and Dawne Dewey, head of special collections and archives. THOMAS GNAU/STAFF
Photo: Thomas Gnau

If you aren’t accustomed to keeping a diary, the special collections and archives department offers these tips: 

• What did you do today (or this week)? How was that different than what you would do on a “normal” day/week? 

• What changes have you personally experienced (physically, mentally, and/or emotionally) since this crisis began? 

• What changes have you observed in your family, your friends, or your local community? 

•  Are you a student or a teacher? Where and how do you normally attend school? Has this changed? How’s that going? Or is there a student or teacher in your family? How is the crisis affecting their schooling situation? 

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• Do you typically work outside the home? What is your job normally like? What is it like right now? Are you still working, whether on-site or remotely? Why or why not? How’s that going? 

• Are you practicing social distancing? Why or why not? What are you doing? How is this affecting your relationships? How do you stay in touch with family and friends? 

• Has this crisis changed (whether voluntarily or involuntarily) any of your plans for day-to-day errands, travel, visiting, leisure activities, celebrations, religious activities, etc.? 

• What do you think about the actions of government leaders in response to this crisis? 

• What has been the most difficult thing for you personally about this crisis? Do you think there’s anything positive that may come from what’s happening?