OU archival project documents the COVID-19 pandemic

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published June 25, 2020


ROCHESTER HILLS — As the COVID-19 crisis disrupts normal life across the nation, the Oakland University libraries are working to document and preserve southeast Michigan’s experiences with the pandemic.

The project, spearheaded by OU Archives and Special Collections Coordinator Dominique Daniel, involves collecting submissions from OU students, faculty, staff and alumni — along with all members of the public in southeast Michigan — that can be used by future historians and scholars seeking insight into life during these unprecedented times.

“I thought it would be important to preserve whatever stories people had during this time because, obviously, this is a historic moment, and it is very disruptive for everyone, but it is also a time when people provided help and support through different forms of expression — messages, humor and artistic creations — so I felt it was important to remember these kinds of things and to preserve it,” said Daniel.

Daniel ran the idea by interim Associate Dean of Oakland University Libraries Amanda Nichols Hess, who gave her the green light to move forward with the project.

“It aligns well with the OU Libraries Special Collections, which is to collect local history. This is an interesting way to continue to highlight that and build that collection in a way that could help our student and community researchers and historians as they look back on this time,” Nichols Hess said.

People can submit photos, art, written journals, fliers, video and audio files, screenshots, homeschool schedules, and other materials through an online form — at oakland.az1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_0V7oMaeOXpZ51Yh — to be added to the Oakland University COVID-19 Collection.

“It’s available to post images, to share their experience, to talk about what this has been like for them, in whatever way they are comfortable and whatever information they are comfortable sharing,” said Nichols Hess.

Since announcing the project in early April, the library has received a number of photos, a drawing made during a Zoom call, an email sent by an instructor to her students, a personal journal and more from OU faculty, students and community members.

In addition to digital submissions, the library plans to accept donations of physical items.

The entire collection will be made available for research in the library’s Archives and Special Collections department.

For more information, email Dominique Daniel at daniel@oakland.edu.