The IHLC’s COVID-19 Collection Project

It’s been approximately one year since the Illinois History and Lincoln Collections (IHLC) unit of the University of Illinois Library began collecting evidence of Illinoisans’ experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. Like many libraries, archives, museums, and special collections across the country and around the world, the IHLC invited Illinoisans throughout the state to share a variety of materials. These contributions could take many forms, such as emails, typed or handwritten journal or diary entries, photographs, screenshots of social media posts, video and audio recordings, digital art, or other documents that reflect this time and the impact of COVID-19. Our goal is to capture the experiences of Illinoisans during this unprecedented period so that future researchers will be able to better understand how we felt, experienced, reacted, and adapted during this period. 

We have encouraged Illinoisans to document whatever felt appropriate to them, whether it is something from everyday life or a creative project. We continue to welcome any topics individuals would like to reflect on in order to share their experiences during this pandemic, especially as it continues to evolve. You may decide to record daily routines, feelings, or experiences, or you may want to reflect on observations of the larger changes to you and the world right now. You’re welcome to submit something created in one moment, like a photograph, poem, or social media post, or write daily journals or reflections over a longer period of time. It’s entirely up to you!  

So far we have received a range of materials, including poetry and creative works of fiction about life during the pandemic, photographs and social media posts, collected data and statistics, e-newsletters and initiatives from historical sites and museums working through their extended periods of closure, and records of 2020 activities and safety measures for institutions planning their reopening. 

It’s not too late to submit your materials for this project! When this project began it was originally slated to remain open for at least a year, with the understanding the this could change as we continued to monitor the situation as it evolved. We realized that some would not want to reflect on the pandemic in the moment, or would be unable to do so. Because the pandemic is an ongoing and evolving situation, we plan to continue to accept materials for the foreseeable future.  

As the pandemic and day to day life continue to change, we encourage you to consider new topics to explore and reflect on as well. Ideas for submission that might allow for personal reflection can include:  

  • What life is like with businesses reopening 
  • Seeing family and friends again 
  • What you might be returning to after time away 
  • What everyday life is like now  
  • What has or hasn’t changed for you throughout the pandemic 
  • Looking back now, what has the last year been like for you 

We will accept formats or mediums that can be submitted digitally, including photos (jpg, png), videos (mp4, mov), audio (mp3), and text and scanned documents (txt, pdf, docx, doc). Submissions will be reviewed and processed for inclusion in the IHLC’s digital collection.  

Once you are ready to share your documents or materials, you can complete this submission form to upload your materials and complete a brief donation form. We also have a co-creator form for individuals to give their permission if more than one person was involved in the materials’ creation.  

You can read more about this project and learn more about submitting your materials on our Frequently Asked Questions page. Our submission forms and FAQ are also available in Spanish 

For additional questions about this project, or if you have any trouble accessing the submission form, please contact us at ihlc@library.illinois.edu. 

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