Archiving the pandemic effort at the Archives & Special Collections

Everyone Has a Story

We are living through a difficult and uncertain time since the COVID-19 pandemic has altered our lives. Routines have been thrown into disarray as cities and states have instituted shelter-at-home orders and non-essential businesses have shuttered. Many have become ill battling the virus. In the CUIMC community, frontline workers treating coronavirus patients have had to work under extreme pressure and continually changing guidelines to accommodate the demands of the virus. Health Sciences students have been sent home and/or launched into the frontlines to cover shortages in their respective fields.

These extraordinary experiences are important to capture for the historic record. With the rapid nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, Columbia University has taken steps to document this the pandemic as it unfolds.

Share Your Story

Archives & Special Collections in the Augustus C. Long Health Sciences Library has created a submission form for the CUIMC community to donate their personal reminiscences, photos, videos and other digital content reflecting their experiences from COVID-19. This material will serve as primary resources for future study into the pandemic response.

The Columbia University Archives at the Morningside Campus collected stories from April to August 2020 via an anonymous questionnaire. These submissions will become part of a University COVID-19 Collection.

Web Archiving

Columbia University currently participates in the Archive-It web archiving service which identifies, crawls, and captures CU websites. Since the onset of COVID-19, new websites have been identified and added to a weekly capture.

Archives & Special Collections in the Augustus C. Long Health Sciences Library began capturing CUIMC social media posts in April using Conifer to help document CUIMC’s institutional response to COVID-19.

The University also participates in a global collaborative Archive-It collection: Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), collected by the International Internet Preservation Consortium since February 2020.

Oral Histories

The Columbia Center for Oral History Research is conducting the project “NYC COVID-19 Oral History, Narrative and Memory Archive,” comprising of a 500-participant diary study and 200 interviews, to be added to the CU Oral History Archives.

Other schools and departments may be pursuing their own pandemic documentation projects. Please tell us about other projects by going our link above and submitting our form.

If you are uncertain about who to contact to donate items relating to the COVID-19 pandemic, please contact CUIMC Archives & Special Collections at hslarchives@columbia.edu

Authored by

Jennifer Ulrich

Last Revision