Updates and Information on Coronavirus (COVID-19)
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Documenting Personal Experiences During the Pandemic

As the country grapples with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on both individuals and communities, members of the UT community are working to document the event for the future. Understanding society’s reactions to and perspectives on this global event can provide not only a snapshot of daily life during self-isolation and quarantine, but also a potential lesson for how future generations can respond in times of crisis.

Chronicling COVID-19: the UT Student & Campus Response to the Coronavirus

Journal entry from the E. H. Rennolds Diary Collection, part of the American Civil War Digital Collection at the UT Libraries

Journal entry from the E. H. Rennolds Diary Collection, part of the American Civil War Digital Collection at the UT Libraries

Generating, maintaining, and preserving the historical record of a pandemic event may provide lessons that help prepare for or avoid future incidents. University archivist Alesha Shumar realized the university’s shift to online courses was a significant event that needed to be documented. In March, Shumar and assistant archivist Becky Becker, along with library colleagues, created a portal to collect individual experiences and creative works, such as journals, videos, and photos that illustrate day-to-day life during the pandemic. 
As of August, 105 questionnaire responses and 10 creative works have been submitted and will become a permanent part of the university archives. If you would like to find more information about the project or submit your own experiences, visit the Chronicling COVID page on the UT Libraries website.

Self portrait from a student project of DIY mask made from empty chip bag. Kelly Alley/Journalism and Electronic Media

Self portrait from a student project of DIY mask made from empty chip bag. Kelly Alley/Journalism and Electronic Media

Photography Students Document Their Experience

Each spring, professor Rob Heller from UT’s School of Journalism and Electronic Media in the College of Communication and Information takes his advanced photojournalism students to LaFollette, Tennessee, to find and photograph stories in the Campbell County community. His students have been documenting these stories for nearly 30 years. 

This spring, the project, Eyes on LaFollette, had to be put on hold as the students moved to online instruction and were under a stay-at-home order due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Instead, Heller asked his students to reflect on and document their own experiences during the quarantine, using words and pictures. 

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