Documenting History as it Happens: Island University Offers COVID-19 Archival Service

By Olivia Santos | Published: April 14, 2020

Documenting History as it Happens: Island University Offers COVID-19 Archival Service

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect lives around the world, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi’s Mary and Jeff Bell Library is working to ensure the personal accounts and experiences of the Coastal Bend community are properly recorded and archived during this significant time in the nation’s history. Now through Thursday, December 31, 2020, community members and Island University students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to lend their stories to the Special Collections and Archives of the Bell Library, joining other accounts in history that could provide insight into the changes in policy and government for decades to come.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is a democratizing experience; it’s affecting everyone’s daily life currently in America. The transition to working at home, wearing masks, conference calling and fearing a trip to the grocery store was rapid and life altering,” said Lori Atkins, Director of Special Collections and Archives. “There is a before time, the battle time we are living through now, and an after time where a new normalcy will gradually be accepted with the terrible truth that this pandemic was real. By contributing to this collection of COVID-19 experiences participants will be leaving a witness account of this time for future generations to study.”   

The Bell Library currently holds more than 300 special collections including research papers from Daniel E. Kilgore, Mexican American political papers from Dr. Hector P. Garcia, Irene Peña Cipriano, and Congressman Solomon Ortiz, along with many more. These collections showcase the community’s history through letters, scrapbooks, photos, correspondences, and other records and artifacts.

In regard to the COVID-19 history harvest, similar items are being sought, including photographs, recorded phone calls, podcast/interviews, videos, social media posts, screenshots, Twitter/Instagram hashtags, Memes, etc. To comply with social distancing efforts, contributors are asked to use this Google Form to submit items. The form will allow participants to sign a virtual deed of gift and provides important information about the copyright and use of content.

“History is made of individual actions, that are then interpreted to understand the past,” said Amanda Kowalski, Bell Library Special Collections and Archives Information Specialist. “Many people believe their voices won’t be heard but the truth is, history is made from the lived experiences of everyone within the community – your voice and experience matter.” 

Results from the archives will not only be cemented into the community’s history but can also play a pivotal role in how legislation is decided for future events of similar nature.

“I encourage everyone, no matter your age or situation, to gather your experiences in one of the formats we listed and share your experiences with our archives,” said Atkins. “This is how your voice lives on for future generations.”

For more information about the Bell Library’s COVID-19 History Harvest, click here or email specialcollections@tamucc.edu.