Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions 

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With the world in the midst of an historic moment with the COVID-19 pandemic, the IHLC is collecting materials to document Illinoisans’ stories and personal reflections during this time so that future researchers will be able to better understand how we felt, experienced, reacted, and adapted during this period.  

While archives typically acquire materials and evidence after events have concluded and passed, rapid response collecting allows archives to document historic events in real time and ensure that we retain a record of what people experienced and felt. Documenting these experiences now allows us to capture the current events in the moment, as opposed to collecting a few months or years in the future when we may reflect upon this time differently or through a new lens. Beyond collecting the facts of this pandemic, the IHLC hopes to gather materials that will provide future researchers with a view of Illinoisans’ experiences, thoughts, and feelings during this unprecedented time.  

The IHLC’s submission form is slated to remain open for at least one year from the project’s launch, but we know that this is an evolving situation, so this may change as we continue to monitor the situation.  

What Should I Submit? 

You can document whatever you’d like, and you can be as creative as you want. We welcome any topics you would like to reflect on in order to share your experiences during this pandemic. You may decide to record your daily routine, feelings, or experiences, or you may want to reflect on your 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! 

Ideas for submission should allow for personal reflection and can include: 

  • Writings such as blog posts, diaries, and journal entries  
  • Correspondence such as letters, emails, and text messages 
  • Artwork, such as drawings and collages 
  • Audio or video recordings 
  • Photographs 
  • Poetry 
  • Screenshots of social media posts 
  • Stories and oral histories 

We will accept any format or medium that can be submitted digitally. The IHLC can accept a variety of formats, including photos (jpg, png), videos (mp4, mov), audio (mp3), and text and scanned documents (txt, pdf, docx, doc).   

While materials do need to be submitted digitally at this time, the materials do not have to be digitally created. For example, you can scan or photograph handwritten records, art, and other materials that were originally created in a physical format.  

If you are unsure about something in particular, please email us at for assistance. 

How Do I Submit?

When you are ready to submit materials, please fill out this submission formYou must complete the required sections of this submission form in order for your materials to be accepted. You will be prompted to upload your materials through this form.  

If your files are larger than 10 MB please still complete this form and contact the us ( so we can make arrangements for a file transfer. 

Can I Submit More Than One File? 

Yes! We recommend that you zip your files before submitting them. This compresses them so they are smaller and can be shared more easily, and by creating a zip folder you can submit multiple files at once. 

Instructions to zip files in Windows: 

Instructions to zip files on a Mac:  

You are also able to complete submission form more than once with new materials if needed. 

If you have any questions or experience issues with this process, please contact us so we can assist you. 

What if I Co-Created Materials?  

If two or more people contribute to any donated materials, or if you interview other people in the course of your documentation, we will need their permission as well. Only one person needs to submit the file and complete the submission form, but everyone who appears in the documentation or contributed to its creation needs to give their permission. Please have all appropriate individuals complete the co-creator form to give their permission. We will ask everyone to list their co-creators so we are able to match creators to the appropriate materials and follow up with any questions, but you may still choose to be listed anonymously with the materials if you would like.  

What If I’m Concerned About Sharing Personal Information? 

It’s helpful if you submit your contact information for the IHLC’s records of the donation and so we can follow up with you if we have any questions, but it’s not necessary. You can submit your materials anonymously and there is a section in the submission form where you can note if you would like your materials to be listed with your full name, first name only, or anonymously.  

On the submission form you can also indicate if you would prefer to allow immediate access to your materials or if you would like to restrict them for five years from their date of submission. A five-year restriction would mean that, aside from staff processing the submission, your materials would not be made public for five years after your submission (so if you submit materials in 2020, they would not be available to the public until 2025). We understand that your documentation may include personal information about yourself so we want to ensure that you have the options to protect your privacy.   

Is The IHLC The Best Place for My Materials? 

The IHLC is committed to preserving and providing access to materials documenting the history of Illinois, and we welcome submissions from Illinoisans far and wide. However, it is important to note that the IHLC is not the only Illinois institution collecting COVID-19 materials and stories at this time. The University of Illinois Archives is collecting the experiences of the university’s students, staff, and faculty. The Champaign County Historical Archives at the Urbana Free Library collects the history and materials of Champaign County and its residents. If you are a member of any of these communities and feel that they are a more appropriate fit for your materials, you can submit your materials at the links provided.  

There are also museums in Illinois collecting COVID-19 materials and stories. The Illinois State Museum, which features the life, land, people, and art of the State of Illinois, is inviting people to share items reflecting their pandemic experiences, and the Western Illinois Museum, a regional history and cultural museum whose collection reflects life in West Central Illinois, is collecting COVID-19 memories. For those living in the Chicago area, the Chicago History Museum has a community-based initiative accepting submissions as well.

Please note that the IHLC may not retain all submitted materials, so we do recommend that you retain all of your files and documents for your own personal records after sharing your submission. 

The Illinois History and Lincoln Collections wishes to acknowledge the Strategic Communications and Marketing Committee of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Library, which provided support for this program.