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University Archives Launches Project to Document Drexel’s Response to COVID-19

July 7, 2020

Earlier this spring, the Drexel University Libraries, led by staff from the University Archives, launched Pandemic Stories, a project to document how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the Drexel community. The project started when the Libraries began collecting official University notices and reports, as well as news media coverage, about COVID-19. Now, the Libraries aims to build on this by collecting stories, voice memos, photos, videos and more that help recount the experiences of Drexel community members during the pandemic.  

“We started this project because the coronavirus crisis is an important moment in Drexel history, and it’s important to document it for future scholars and just interested people,” said University Archivist Matthew Lyons. “We’re hoping the project can help combat some of the disconnection and isolation that people may be feeling by giving people a chance to share their stories and connect with other people’s experiences.”

University Archives staff seek materials from as many diverse voices as possible, including Drexel students from all programs and graduating classes, faculty and staff, administrators and alumni. Students, for example, might share journal entries about maintaining study habits during a pandemic or about how the pandemic has affected their co-op experience. Faculty and staff, on the other hand, could discuss how they have adapted to remote teaching, working, and research through stories or photographs. All members of the Drexel community are encouraged to participate and to express their creativity through their submissions. 

“We’re looking for submissions that help paint a picture of people’s experiences,” Lyons said. “How has the campus closing affected your interactions with classmates or friends? What’s it like to suddenly switch from teaching in person to teaching remotely? Maybe you are an international student who couldn’t easily go home—what did you do? Or maybe you’re one of the Drexel employees designated as ‘essential’—what’s it like working on campus when most people are gone?”

The project will continue throughout the duration of the pandemic, and members of the Drexel community are encouraged to submit multiple entries. University Archives staff will also periodically share prompts with the Drexel community that ask specific questions about how COVID-19 has affected their lives, particularly their involvement with Drexel University.

“This is a chance to write history while it’s happening,” Lyons said. “In University Archives, we have received a bunch of questions about how Drexel responded to the influenza pandemic in 1918, and there’s surprisingly little documentation about that. We want to leave a better record this time.”

If you are a student, employee, or alumnus/alumna of Drexel University, you can contribute to the University Archives’ COVID-19 Project. Learn how to participate.

For more information and the Libraries’ response to the pandemic, visit our COVID-19 Response Page