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Simpson Library | Special Collections

Using the Library During the COVID-19 Pandemic

A Call to Contribute

As we navigate the daily challenges of COVID-19, we are making history. The UMW Special Collections and University Archives staff are actively engaged in capturing and preserving our institution's exceptional response to the current public health crisis, but we would like to hear from you, too! We invite our UMW community to share their individual stories and creative works inspired by this moment. 

If you've been keeping a record of these events and how they've impacted your life, or if you'd like to start, consider donating to the University Archives in the future! We have several tools available to digitize physical materials, as well as web-based programs that can help capture born-digital content.

Check out the blog post by our Digital Resources Librarian to learn more about the project and how you can get involved.

Help us capture this extraordinary time in history and be a part of UMW's enduring record.

What Should I Say?

If you're thinking about ways to get started on documenting your experience, consider some of the prompt questions below:

  • How did you first learn about UMW's decision to move to online classes? What were your thoughts as more information developed? How did you feel when you learned campus would be closed for the rest of the semester?
  • How do you feel UMW handled and continues to handle the situation? What sort of communication have you had with your professors/students/colleagues/friends? Do you wish anything was done differently?
  • Where are you living? Who are you living with? How does self-isolation and quarantine impact your close relationships?
  • How have you adapted to remote teaching and learning? Have you had to learn new tools? Has the experience taught you anything about how you work and learn best?
  • What are the biggest challenges for you currently? Do you feel like you and your loved ones have access to all the resources you need to cope? What are your worries?
  • What is your daily routine like now? What do you miss about your old routine? How are you taking care of yourself?
  • What changes, if any, have been pleasantly surprising? What has brought you joy and uplifted you during this stressful period?
  • Are you doing anything to help care for others during this time (e.g. sewing masks, delivering groceries, donating money/blood/equipment, etc.)?‚Äč
  • Do you feel that any of the changes you've made in response to the pandemic will be permanent? What do you think of when you think of "going back to normal"?

How Should I Say It?

How should you record your experiences? However you like! We've provided a few ideas below, but this isn't a comprehensive list.

  • Keep a journal with pen and paper. The library can digitize your journal so you can keep the physical object, or you can donate the journal as an artifact.
  • Write a recollection of a single unique moment.
  • Blog or build a website using Domain of One's Own.
  • Write a poem, short story, or other creative writing work.
  • Record a video or audio clip.
  • Start a podcast, either alone or with friends.
  • Create art inspired by your experience in the medium of your choice! Paint, sculpt, draw, photograph, bake, design, animate, or stitch your feelings and we can digitize the physical and preserve the digital.

If you have a project idea that isn't on this list, that's great! We'd be happy to work with you to design your project with an eye toward archival preservation.

Submission and Permissions

If you've decided you're ready to contribute your content to University of Mary Washington's Special Collections and University Archives, please contact us at archives@umw.edu. Feel free to reach out to us for help or guidance at any point even if you're not ready to donate yet, or if you have questions about your project.


Please see below for submission terms and conditions.

You are voluntarily contributing your recollections, photographic images, video, social media postings or other content to University of Mary Washington's Special Collections and University Archives (UMW SC&UA) which is curating a collection of UMW experiences in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency.

You may only submit material created entirely by you and not copied from or based, in whole or in part, upon any other photographic, literary, or other material, except to the extent that such material is in the public domain, or you have permission of the copyright owner, or its use is allowed by "Fair Use" as prescribed by the terms of United States copyright law. If you would like to refer or nominate material which you do not own, please contact us at archives@umw.edu.

By submitting content to UMW SC&UA, you are granting SC&UA permission to disseminate, preserve, and use that content in connection with its educational and research mission, including promotional purposes, in all media in perpetuity. Your material may be published on the web as part of UMW SC&UA digital collections or exhibits. You retain ownership of and copyright in the material you share.

Submitted material must not violate any confidentiality, privacy, security or other laws. UMW SC&UA reserves the right to decline submissions that do not adhere to the guidelines of our collecting policy.

Adapted from submission template created by Society of American Archivists' Tragedy Response Initiative Task Force.