The Joint Archives of Holland is seeking personal reflections on the COVID-19 pandemic from the extended Hope College family to provide a lasting chronicle of the era as seen through the eyes of those who are experiencing it.
‘First-person accounts are invaluable to researchers seeking to understand the past and how people felt about the events of their time,” said Geoffrey Reynolds, who is the Mary Riepma Ross Director of the Joint Archives of Holland. “We are collecting the personal stories from the Hope College community because this is a clear historical moment and we want to get individual experiences of people to record details of campus life and life at home.”
“We’re encouraging students, staff, faculty and alumni to share their stories, or to help others share their accounts,” he said. “They can share their own journal, prose, artwork, photographs of experiences at home, or email correspondence — any form of expression — whether it's on paper or in a digital form.”
As far as subject matter is concerned, Reynolds noted that examples of relevant topics include the economy; political messaging; level of trust in the government and media; and discussion of what’s happening in terms of the weather, relationships with family and friends, neighbors and colleagues. He is also hoping to receive survivor stories.
For those who might be uncomfortable sharing their own thoughts, Reynolds suggests interviewing others.
“They can help others narrate their stories by conducting an interview with them and donating the recording to the archives much like the StoryCorps approach,” he said. “People interested in this option can volunteer with a partner or be paired with someone they don't know in a kind of matchmaking setup.”
Information about how to participate, including how to submit materials either electronically or via the mail, is available on the Joint Archives of Holland’s website. For those who are interested in participating but aren’t sure where to begin, or who would appreciate additional guidance, the website also includes a list of questions and ideas as possibilities to write or inquire about.