The COVID-19 pandemic has proven to be one of the most significant events in recent history. This public health emergency has affected every aspect of society, including colleges and universities. Given the historic significance of COVID-19, future generations will be interested in studying how different communities experienced and reacted to this crisis. When looking back on the most similar event, the 1918 Influenza, there are surprisingly few records describing how Lehigh University responded. More importantly, there is little information about the experiences of the people who lived through the 1918 Influenza.
As the department tasked with collecting and preserving Lehigh history, Special Collections is trying to compile a comprehensive record of the pandemic. While we are collecting official University communications and webpages, we need your help to form a more accurate and representative archive. One of the foremost issues faced by modern cultural heritage institutions is archival silence, gaps in the historical record created by ignoring or overlooking the records and voices of marginalized people. In an effort to address this problem, the Lehigh Libraries are asking for your COVID-19 experiences, so that the voices of community members can be preserved alongside the University’s official records. This call for submissions is open to anyone in the greater Lehigh community including: undergraduate and graduate students, alumni, faculty, staff, Bethlehem residents, and family members of these groups.
To submit your COVID-19 experiences, simply visit the Collecting COVID-19 page on the Libraries website and fill out the linked Google Form. This form will ask you some basic informational questions and give you the opportunity to upload files. You can upload any type of material, including written journal entries, recorded audio or video, or images. If you have related physical material that you would like to donate to Special Collections, let us know on the form and we will get in touch with more information. This form will also give you the opportunity to recommend web pages for inclusion in Lehigh’s web archive. We ask that you own the material you are uploading, otherwise we will be unable to provide access to it in the future. For more information about the rights and ethics involved in this collecting initiative, please see the Terms and Conditions page.
If you have any questions about participating in this initiative or need assistance submitting material, please contact Ilhan Citak, Archives & Special Collections Librarian, Alex Japha, Digital Archivist, or the Special Collections Department.