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SDSU Archives Gathers Stories of the COVID-19 Pandemic

PAST: Physically Apart, Socially Together

Materials often find their way to the SDSU Archives & Special Collections department years after their creation, when the moment of history that they reflect has long since passed. With today’s historic events of COVID-19, however, the Archives staff saw a rare and valuable opportunity to gather first-hand stories of the pandemic now while the health crisis unfolds.

To do this, the Archives launched a new project, “Physically Apart, Socially Together: The SDSU and Brookings Experience of the COVID-19 Pandemic” (PAST). Anyone connected to the SDSU and Brookings area communities are invited to share their stories of life during the novel coronavirus outbreak by visiting

PAST contributors can decide what they want to record, if they want to use digital or physical formats to document their experiences, and how much material they wish to donate to the project. Examples include:

  • Journal entries and poems
  • Photographs and artwork
  • Social media posts, blogs, and digital storytelling
  • Video and audio recordings
  • Images and descriptions of work-at-home environments
  • Recipes or notes about meals made during the pandemic
  • Faculty notes about the transition to online classes
  • Business documents showing the response to the crisis, such as announcements, correspondence, or adapted restaurant menus for pickup/delivery
  • Homemade cloth face coverings

After review by the Archives staff, the materials will be added to the online PAST collection. These personal accounts will be preserved by the Archives for research and scholarship about the pandemic.

“PAST gives the SDSU and Brookings communities the opportunity to preserve their stories of managing during this challenging and ever-changing event,” Michele Christian, Archivist & Special Collections Librarian, said. “These stories will be used by future generations to better understand our experiences of COVID-19.”

Submissions to PAST will be accepted throughout and after the pandemic period. An online form is available for digital submissions. Contributors can also wait to bring in physical items once the library has reopened, or they can mail materials to:

     SDSU Archives & Special Collections
     1300 North Campus Drive
     Box 2115
     Brookings, SD 57007

Questions about donating to PAST can be directed to