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Published September 10, 2020
The American Heritage Center (AHC) at the University of Wyoming is continuing to collect experiences and thoughts of the state’s residents, including UW and associated communities, during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The AHC is inviting residents to consider what you would tell future generations about your experiences and memories of this unusual time, and then to share that with us,” says AHC Director Paul Flesher. “Each person’s written or spoken thoughts, or creative projects, can help humankind understand what it was like to experience daily life during this local and global crisis.”
He says the media is recording the bigger picture and capturing impacts on global and high-risk areas relating to the pandemic, and that the AHC needs residents’ help to capture the voices of individuals, families and friends in this ongoing communal history.
Residents can share thoughts and experiences by answering a few open-ended questions provided in the AHC’s COVID-19 survey at https://forms.gle/h9GTC9YjSUYUJdgX8.
The survey provides questions that can help inspire individual submissions.
“If you already filled out the survey, perhaps your experiences and views changed over the past months. Consider sharing your new insights,” Flesher says.
Some leading questions to consider are: What stories would you tell about your difficulties or disappointments? What bright spots or moments of happiness have you found? If you are running a business, how has Wyoming’s response to this health emergency affected it? If you are home with children, what are the challenges and opportunities for your family day to day? Have your views of the pandemic changed over time?
“Anyone may contribute their observations through this survey and contact us about other creative contributions,” says UW Archivist Sara Davis. “The American Heritage Center is especially interested in documenting the impact on the University of Wyoming and its community.”
UW students also are urged to take part in the project. Some questions for students to consider are: If you are a student, how have the learning process and college experience been changed and disrupted? If you teach, how has the switch to online teaching affected your courses?
“Or, if you are a staff member or in administration, what adjustments have you needed to make to work remotely or to manage your area of UW through the changes imposed by the COVID-19 emergency?” Flesher says.
The AHC also wants to hear from UW’s alumni.
“UW graduates are the backbone of Wyoming’s citizenry; more Wyoming citizens have graduated from UW than from all other universities combined,” Flesher says. “Hearing our alumni’s experiences with COVID-19 will provide a good approximation of the state’s experience during this pandemic. We look forward to their contributions to this project.”
The AHC also will accept submissions that capture individual experiences, such as poems, photographs, audio recordings and other creative works.
“It would be especially helpful to share photographs of changes caused by the current situation, such as empty streets and shop windows indicating new conditions of businesses,” Flesher says. “Current donations include interviews of students reflecting on their futures after graduation, poetry and a photo of a quarantined teddy bear looking forlornly out a window.”
Project participants are required to provide permission to the AHC to preserve submissions and to provide public access to them. Participants can remain anonymous or even restrict public access to individual stories for five years. The AHC is unable to accept submissions with identifiable heath information (HIPAA content).
For more information about the project or individuals wishing to donate something beyond the scope of the survey, email Davis at email@example.com or AHC digital Archivist Rachel Gattermeyer at firstname.lastname@example.org.