SARAH KNOTT, Professor, Department of History
CARRIE SCHWIER, Outreach and Public Services Archivist, University Archives


Sarah Knott (Department of History) and Carrie Schwier (University Archives) have launched an archival effort aimed at preserving and understanding the lived experiences of the IU community in the time of COVID-19. IDAH shares this call for volunteers in the hopes that our audience will contribute their own materials in support of this historically significant project.

We find ourselves living in a historic crisis. Historians of the future will want to know how we spent our days. What was the local, lived experience of a global pandemic from day to day and week to week?

In the spirit of documenting this moment, the University Archives invites you to keep a diary of living during the COVID-19 epidemic in Indiana. Diarists may type or write by hand, draw, compose poems, gather stories and so forth. No stress needs to be placed on “good grammar”, spelling or style. The emphasis is on self-expression, candor and a willingness to be a social commentator. We are inspired by the history of Mass Observation, on which more details can be found here:

Events are changing by the day. They are specific to you, and to your families and friends and communities. Please start writing now! The University Archives will welcome your diary’s deposit in either analog or digital form. Please contact the University Archives at with any questions not covered below.

All of our lives have been reshaped the last few weeks due to the current pandemic, historians of the future will want to know how that looked and felt. Maybe you’re now working from home juggling caring for your kids, maybe you’re one of those heroic essential employees who is holding everything together right now, or maybe you’re now unexpectedly unemployed. What are some of the things that you’re anxious or frustrated about right now (caring for loved ones, finding toilet paper, making ends meet)? What are some things you’re thankful for (Skype cocktail dates with old friends, a helping hand from a neighbor, our nurses and doctors)? What are you noticing about everyday changes in the world around you? Remember that what might currently feel mundane to us, is exactly what those in the future will want to know. Every person’s submission will be unique, because each our experiences will be unique. 

This is a VERY important question. Since the Covid-19 pandemic is a public health crisis, it is likely that your submissions might include the personal health information of yourself or others. This information is legally protected by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).  At the time of submission you will be asked to agree to a Personal Health Information Agreement, which you can read now on the Submission form. It’s important to note that you must agree not to include personally identifiable health information about another person or persons, or information that could allow a third party to identify other people. This might include members of your family, neighbors, etc. IF you do so, there are a couple of options: the 3rd party must separately submit the Personal Health Information Agreement, or your submission must be fully anonymized for both the submitter and any third parties identifiable in the submission. Please let us know if you have questions. 

That’s awesome! It is important to note however that you cannot in any way require, incentivize, or put any form of pressure on students to submit these projects to the archives. If you choose, you as a faculty member can simply make the students aware of the possibility to submit their projects at part of this project. You might say something like “This course assignment was inspired by this Covid-19 documentation project underway by the IU Archives. If you’re interested, you can consider submitting your project to help document this historic time, but you are not required to do so for this course, and any participation by you in the IU Archives' project is entirely separate from your enrollment in and requirements for this course.”

Unfortunately, no. In order to legally agree to the Submission Agreement and Personal Health Information Agreement that are part of the Submission Form, an individual most be over the age of 18. 

We can accept any format, so please just chose one that suits you. 

Yes! For example, you might have a written diary, but also want to include some photographs. 

While this project is only focused on these parameters, there are LOTS of these projects popping up across the country. If you live in the state of Indiana, you should check out the Indiana Historical Society’s “Telling Your Story” initiative. If you reside outside of the state, we highly suggest you contact another repository in your local community as they will be interested. 

We don’t expect a set amount, just do as much (or as little) as you are able. 

Yes, we will happily offer this option. We want all participants to feel comfortable to be honest in their submissions. 

Yes, we’re currently planning to offer the option to restrict materials for 5 years from the date of submission. Please contact the IU Archives at if you have questions. 

This is up to you. If you want, you can send your submission in installments via the submission form or you can send it all at once when you are finished. 

Fill out this IU Archives - Documenting Covid-19 Submission form and then email the IU Archives ( with either a link to download your materials or attach them to your email. If your submission is in physical form (for example a handwritten diary) you're welcome to either drop it off at the IU Archives once we reopen or mail it to the following address: 

Indiana University Archives
1320 E. 10th Street 
Herman B Wells Library E460
Bloomington, IN 47405
Attn: Carrie Schwier


Are you working on a project with a significant digital component in pursuit of tenure and/or promotion? Do you need to jump-start a digital project? Whether you're an undergraduate student, graduate student, or faculty member, IDAH wants to help. Our Faculty Fellowship program and HASTAC Scholarship program are both designed to provide funding for digitally-inflected research projects, while our Incubator program brings all of the resources IU has to offer for faculty and graduate students engaged in digital arts & humanities projects into a single room for a week-long intensive workshop in July.


IDAH regularly reports on talks, workshops and other special events related to digital arts & humanities on the IU Bloomington campus through Twitter, Facebook, and our mailing list. If you'd like to hear about what we're doing on campus (and what our colleagues are up to), give us a follow or sign up to receive emails from us. We send weekly DH event roundups, reminders about upcoming features, and deadlines and save-the-dates for future conferences.