In our current surreal reality, I find myself fighting both fear and tedium. Some of us seek escape through learning new things—or getting lost in books, games, shows or music. Another way to escape is to dive down deeper into your experience.
Recognizing that we are living in a historical time doesn’t lessen the fear of getting sick, the stress of financial worries or the disappointment of being paused—unable to mark life’s milestones like graduations or weddings and unable to move forward with life plans. We are all going through this, but our challenges are unique to our situation.
Archivists see value in collecting these diverse experiences. Sharing how these challenges affect you can bring some relief and help others understand the ways COVID affects our community. It’s also a creative way to fill some time.
Two organizations in our community are requesting your expressions of this experience. UGA’s Special Collections Libraries maintain an archive of historical events spanning from medieval manuscripts to the Georgia Music Hall of Fame collection. Their mission is to preserve such archives and to make them available for research and instruction. They also create exhibits for the public.
While the perception is that they collect documents of past historical events, Special Collections also endeavors to collect real-time documents, or history in the making—a time capsule for the future.
In March 2019, they exhibited materials pertaining to the Women’s March of January 2017. As someone who attended that march, revisiting the experience via that exhibit two years later brought back the excitement of that event and sealed it with a stamp of authenticity: This happened; it was historic, and I was there.
To recognize history as it happens, Special Collections has made the first statewide call for contributions in regard to the COVID experience. Realizing that many people are turning to creative pursuits as a way of enduring this time of hardship, Special Collections seeks poetry, reflections, photos, recordings or other expressions. Affiliation with UGA is not required. This call is open to anyone living in Georgia. For more information and to submit, go to libs.uga.edu/covid-collection.
Another community organization calling for submissions is the Athens-Clarke County Library’s Heritage Room. With the mission to “document the history of the whole community,” they are seeking stories from the Athens community, including surrounding counties.
They urge individuals and families to express themselves in writing, audio, video, photos or art. Multiple submissions are appreciated and welcomed, regardless of writing or artistic skills. Participants should realize that their submissions may be publicly shared and will be available to those using the Heritage Room archives.
Ashley Shull, archives and special collection coordinator, says, “Our hope is that the community will choose to submit their own experience so that a hundred years from now researchers can gain insight into what life was like in 2020.” Shull states that submissions have included an account from a 90-year-old woman, a video of residents of care facilities singing together, (at a distance) and photos from families engaged in home-quarantine activities.
For more information or to submit your experiences, go to athenslibrary.org, and scroll down to, “Share your family’s experience.”
Got a pandemic pursuit you want to share with Flagpole? Send it to email@example.com.
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