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If you are a professor and want to create an assignment related to students documenting their experiences, consider having this be an alternate assignment, so that those who aren’t ready to deal with personal trauma don’t have to. And please be sure to remind students that they are not required to donate their work to the Archives; it is completely their choice.
Collecting Current Experiences
A project to collect current experiences is not something Special Collections & Archives has done without thoughtful consideration. While we greatly value the historical record, we realize that a project like this can be the last thing on a person’s mind at this time. Job loss, food and housing insecurities, personal health, the daily care of others, and the loss of loved ones will naturally take priority. We also know that it may take time for some to process their trauma, and we are mindful that this project may not be appropriate for all people at this moment.
If documenting your experiences at this time or interviewing others about theirs does feel like the right thing for you, we highly encourage it. Everyday experiences matter, and every person’s story is important. You don’t have to be a politician or a movie star for your voice to count. We will not discriminate based on age, race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, pregnancy, ethnicity, disability, national origin, veteran status, and/or genetic information. And you may choose not to reveal any of this personal information.
In terms of personal health information, it is up to you as to what information you choose to share about yourself. We do ask you NOT to include personally identifiable information of (or information that could allow a third party to identify) other people – this includes their personal health information.
As with any archival collection, it will take us time to organize this one. It’s possible we may not make it available for a year, five years, or even until the pandemic is over. You may choose to have your story closed to the public for a certain number of years for whatever reason, and we’d be glad to discuss that with you. For those who would like to donate materials, but wish to keep private thoughts to themselves for many years, make sure your family (or those with legal rights to your estate) knows your wishes in terms of any personal documents you create in your lifetime. Please know that as always, Special Collections & Archives respects the needs of individuals in all of our collecting decisions.