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Documenting Pandemic Stories

Documenting Pandemic Stories

June 17, 2020

Tumultuous, disruptive, unprecedented—just a few adjectives people have used to describe the last three months in stories they’ve told me. One story was about a person managing Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) during a global pandemic, another about a pulmonologist working at a hospital in Denver. To document such stories and capture the present moment, three regional organizations have created online initiatives that encourage your contributions:

  • Living Through a Pandemic – The Midwest Genealogy Center (MGC) of Mid-Continent Public Library has added a new category to its popular “Tell Me a Story” program. From home, you can record your thoughts about the pandemic and how it has affected your daily life. You can attach a media file, or place a hold on one of the Tell Me a Story kits and record on one of MGC’s recorders. Submissions will be saved on MGC’s website.
  • COVID-19 Collecting Initiative – The Johnson County Museum in Overland Park, Kansas, has launched this initiative for you to share your stories and experiences, as well as ideas for photographs, documents, and objects that capture the pandemic. Although it focuses on Johnson County, the Museum is taking submissions from around the Kansas City metropolitan area to document and ultimately tell a fuller story.

Whether or not you choose participate in one of these initiatives, The Story Center Collection has resources to help you develop your oral history skills. While the title of The Tape-Recorded Interview by Edward Ives dates the manual, the content is as relevant now as when the book was first published over 40 years ago. And Oral History: An Interdisciplinary Anthology, edited by David Dunaway and Willa Baum, features 31 classic essays about oral history project design and application. Both books, and many others, are available for curbside pick-up.

As summer begins and the pandemic enters another phase, listen to the stories. And consider making yours part of the historical record, whatever adjectives you use.  

Mark L.
The Story Center Director


I really feel that the libraries should be opened for the use of the tax payers including my husband and I. If people are afraid of the virus they don't have to go. We have really missed getting to use the library the past three months. Time to open them right away. Please

From Janice Franklin (not verified)
Fri, 07/03/2020 - 08:56pm

I'm so glad that the Mid-Continent Public Library goes beyond housing stories, but actively encourages and enables their communities to contribute their own! While much can be gleaned by analyzing statistics and data from times of turbulence and crisis, the most meaningful and telling historical documents are the stories told from the people living through crisis. When we share stories, we are transported to another person's perspective and can live in their worlds-- if only for a moment. During times of uncertainty and fear, it's so important to share our stories so that we can learn from each other and build bridges of empathy. Great work Mid-Continent and The Story Center!

From Melissa Stan (not verified)
Thu, 07/23/2020 - 01:31pm

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