Documenting COVID-19 at Bryn Mawr

Special Collections has launched a project to encourage alumnae/i, students, faculty, and staff to document their experiences during the COVID-19 outbreak and contribute them to the College Archives.

As with any major historical event, future researchers will want to look at the impact of COVID-19 on people and their communities. Those researchers will have access to reports from the CDC, statistical data sets, and other official records, but what about records that capture the impact of COVID-19 on our daily lives?

Although Bryn Mawr’s official response to the pandemic will be preserved in the College Archives through web capture and the routine transfer of administrative records to the archives, the archives doesn’t have a way to ensure the experiences of individual members of the College community are preserved alongside those official responses.

The Documenting COVID-19 at Bryn Mawr project aims to address this issue. The goal of the project is to create a community-sourced digital archive of personal experiences of and reactions to the pandemic—one which shows the ways in which we are living now. All members of the Bryn Mawr College community are invited and encouraged to participate.

Looking ahead to the fall semester, Special Collections has developed a website that highlights historical and cultural collections that offer context to the COVID-19 pandemic. As faculty look to fold students’ experiences into their course content and assignments, they can turn to materials on public health, disease, medicine, and especially of quarantine on campus during the Spanish flu.

On View

Back in March, we were poised to open our new exhibition of children’s books, The Girl’s Own Book: Selections from the Ellery Yale Wood Collection (featuring a lecture by Yale scholar Heather Klemann), when the shutdown canceled it all. The exhibition will be open instead for all of the 2020–21 academic year, although due to restrictions on visitors to campus, it may be viewed in person only by students, faculty, and staff. For everyone else, the exhibition’s curator, Marianne Hansen, has created an online version, augmented it with a series of blog posts, and planned related—mostly online—events. Lectures, including Klemann’s, are open to the public with registration, so if you are interested, watch for an announcement.  

Pub Party

In May, LITS hosted the annual party celebrating books published by community members over the previous year. Normally this is a wine-and-cheese reception at which the authors briefly discuss their books. This year, we had to forego the refreshments, but we still got together over Zoom and heard the writers talk about their work. Click here for the book list.


Above: From Dining Out: A Global History of Restaurants, by Elliott Shore with Zoom attendees at right.