SDSU Archives gathers stories of COVID-19 pandemic

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BROOKINGS – Materials often find their way to the South Dakota State University Archives & Special Collections department years after their creation, when the moment of history that they reflect has long since passed. With today’s historic events of COVID-19, however, the staff saw a rare and valuable opportunity to gather firsthand stories of the pandemic now while the health crisis unfolds.

To do this, the department launched a new project, “Physically Apart, Socially Together: The SDSU and Brookings Experience of the COVID-19 Pandemic.” Anyone connected to the SDSU and Brookings-area communities is invited to share their stories during the novel coronavirus outbreak by visiting

PAST contributors can decide what they want to record, if they want to use digital or physical formats to document their experiences, and how much material they wish to donate to the project. Examples include:

• Journal entries and poems;

• Photographs and artwork;

• Social media posts, blogs and digital storytelling;

• Video and audio recordings;

• Images and descriptions of work-at-home environments;

• Recipes or notes about meals made during the pandemic;

• Faculty notes about the transition to online classes;

• Business documents showing the response to the crisis, such as announcements, correspondence or adapted restaurant menus for pickup/delivery; and

• Homemade masks.

After review, the materials will be added to the online PAST collection. These personal accounts will be preserved for research and scholarship about the pandemic.

“PAST gives the SDSU and Brookings communities the opportunity to preserve their stories of managing during this challenging and ever-changing event,” Michele Christian, archivist and special collections librarian, said. “These stories will be used by future generations to better understand our experiences of COVID-19.”

Submissions will be accepted throughout and after the pandemic period. An online form is available for digital submissions. Contributors can also bring in physical items once the library has reopened or materials can be mailed to:

SDSU Archives & Special Collections, 1300 North Campus Drive, Box 2115, Brookings, SD 57007

Questions about donating to PAST can be directed to [email protected]


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