Pen to Paper: Documenting Your COVID-19 Experience

Posted In: Archives

During one of my many late-night scrolls through social media, an acquaintance of a friend of a friend shared on a thread that they “never wanted to live in a period of time that historians would be interested in.” Well, here we are. Someday, in the near and far future, scholars, such as historians, anthropologists, and sociologists, will want to know how we, individually and as a community, fared during this period of global pandemic.

To pass the time, and document this major, unprecedented event, please consider keeping a journal detailing your personal experience as a clerk in a grocery store, as a person in isolation working remotely, as a recently unemployed person, or as a first responder in the health field. Document which television shows you binge watched; how you prepared for isolation; how news and social media affected morale in your home; which foods and supplies you bought; what changed for you, your community, or the world that day; and whether your children were aware (and, if so, what questions they asked). Be sure to include the date and your location. For some reason, the narrator in my head sounds like Kevin Costner as he chronicled his life on a nineteenth-century western outpost in Dances with Wolves: “March 21- Food aplenty. Morale- changes quickly and often. The children are too young understand why they can’t hug our next-door neighbor anymore or go to the playground.”

If you don’t enjoy writing, there are many free transcription apps that allow you to record your thoughts and convert them to Word documents. I’m happy to walk you through this process. Of course, the society’s archives will be delighted to preserve your experience for future generations. The archival staff has already begun collecting ephemeral items for the manuscript collection such as flyers, emails from local and state businesses, and even a Costco receipt.

Part of the society’s mission is to “expand, preserve, and make accessible our collection” and, with your assistance, we can accomplish this goal. We hope that your journal will not be a long one and that this period in time passes as smoothly and quickly as possible for all. Be safe and be well.


If you have any questions, please email me at


Written by: Virginia Ellison
Date: March 23, 2020