University archives seeking community’s pandemic stories

University archives seeking community’s pandemic stories

MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) — The University Archives at Minnesota State University, Mankato is working on a COVID-19 community history project and is asking the community for help in sharing their experiences.

When the project first began in late-March, the university focused on experiences of those connected to the university but now archivists at the university archives are asking the general public for their stories to contribute to the documentation of the greater community’s history.

“One of the jobs of the university archives is to preserve history at the university,” said university archivist Daardi Mixon. “We saw this as such a pivotal and dramatic change for everyone, that it was a really unique opportunity for us to say we’d like to document this to really preserve that university experience.”

In today’s digital world, information is easily accessible and at an abundance.

Compared to decades ago, the archives now receive this information primarily through digital means meaning its quite easier to record and document these stories.

“There are such great new tools available to provide transcriptions among other things that we’ve been able to share those tools with people who are submitting things to these projects,” said university archive technician Anne Stenzel. “So it’s a great way for us to expand our toolkit, but also for the people who participate in this project they can expand their technical toolkit as well.”

“We’ve also been exploring the options of having people do creative projects too,” said university archive technician Adam Smith. “We’ve seen photography documentation projects. We’ve seen some people take photographs of areas around them. Sometimes without people or sometimes with people just documenting just how people are living in this time.”

“Lots of other places are doing work like this,” said Mixon. “I think ours is a pretty unique project with a pretty big emphasis on the university. We’ve worked a lot with international students at this point, but we’re really excited by an opportunity to expand more broadly into the community because we do think there are people who want to share their stories and we want to be a place where they can do that.”

For more information on how you can contribute to this project, visit the university archives’ COVID-19 community project website.

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