William & Mary wants the public to help document the COVID-19 pandemic


WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (WAVY) – If you are looking for a way to pass time while you’re stuck at home amid the coronavirus outbreak, a local university is looking for personal reflections to document the historic pandemic.

William & Mary Libraries is inviting members of its school and the greater Williamsburg community to submit reflections for the Special Collections Research Center in Swem Library.

Ideas the school has listed include :

  • Prose
  • Poetry
  • Drawing
  • Scrapbooking
  • Photography
  • Audio/video
  • Other accounts of day-to-day life

But, it is not limited to the list above says Ali Zawoyski, who is a university archivist.

“If you can create it, we can work with you on how you’d like to preserve it,” she said.

Zawoyski says the submissions should reflect your experiences so far with COVID-19 and they’ve already collected materials such as photos people have taken on daily walks, to poems about missing work cubicles.

She believes that it’s important to document whatever your memories are because major events like legislation and government response will already be remembered. This archive gives everyone else a chance to have their voices heard.

“It’s important for us to share our experiences of how we were feeling because it can help people further down to deal with their own challenges,” Zawoyski said.

She says having archives can also help our generation learn how others went through pandemics in previous centuries.

“It doesn’t matter if they wrote something five years ago or 500 years ago. When you read that, you’re in their shoes, in their life, and it helps you better understand more about your own life and how you’re impacting other people,” she said.

All materials will be preserved and will be an accessible part of the historic record, according to the Zawoyski.

She encourages people from the greater Williamsburg area to submit their reflections and that includes diverse groups of people, which can provide different narratives that haven’t always been told in history.

“The people that work at the library just want to help you. We want to hook people and tell them ‘your story does matter.’ The broader your archives, the more people will get from it,” she said.

Both digital and physical materials are welcomed, but you must sign an agreement that allows William & Mary to use your content.

Zawoyski says people can also check to see if their local library is also collecting items.

To submit materials or learn more information, click here.

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