Documenting the Personal Experiences of a Community During COVID-19csudhbulletin December 2, 2021 0 COMMENTS
COA mask painted on the wall shows the metaphoric impact that was left by the COVID-19 pandemic as described by documents shared by a community through the Gerth Archives on campus. Photo by Adam Niescioruk from Unsplash.
By Lloyd Bravo, Staff Writer.
COVID-19 created angst and uncertainty especially during the first few chaotic months in 2020. Part of this is now documented and archived here in CSUDH.
Photographs of signs printed and taped on windows by small business owners including one from Carolyn Caffery Gardner at the Enegren Brewing Company. The message: urging their clientele to be respectful and courteous to their staff after changes in food and beverage handling protocol demonstrates the struggles of the Coronavirus.
Pages of testimonials and diary entries from students who describe their plight like Antoinette Burmudez explaining her fear for her father with lung issues and the overwhelming pressure of her college courses during the beginning of the pandemic.
The Gerth Archives (focused on recording the institutional history of CSUDH), and Special Collections at CSUDH have gathered various documents ranging from letters, pictures, essays, and social media posts about the COVID-19 experience since the beginning of the pandemic. This resource is available to the public to read, watch and use for future research purposes.
Documenting COVID-19 began in April 2020 during the rise of the virus as lockdowns and mask mandates were being strictly enforced impacting the lives of students, faculty, and staff on campus. The Gerth Archives and Special Collections asked for contributions from participating individuals working or attending CSUDH as well as people in the Southern Los Angeles County community. To gather this information the special collections used newsletters and professors on campus to reach out to students for their take on the pandemic.
“I thought it would be a good idea to document the community response to the pandemic,” said Gregory Williams, the director of the Gerth Archives. “We were at home too [during the beginning of the pandemic] and I thought it would be a good exercise for the Gerth Archives to understand a current event project and document up-to-date digital records which included several classes participating in the process as well.”
Around 170 submissions were gathered that contained photos, audio files, and quarantine journals that illustrate the struggles of the first wave of the pandemic. Most of the archive contributions are from the students of CSUDH.
“I am pleased with the amount of student involvement, even though most of the submissions were a part of assignments for a few particular classes,” Williams said.
“We can serve the campus community to offer a platform to share their stories,” said Allison Ransom, a labor archiver for the Gerth Archives. “There is an array of media that represents the community and alumni cataloging their experience during COVID as we started collecting in the period of time during the thick of the pandemic.”
The current compendium can be viewed in the Gerth Archives Digital Collections or accessed through the Online Archive of California. However, students can access the archive located on the fifth floor of the campus library Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. by appointment only.
The documenting COVID-19 project is an example of how the campus can interact with the Gerth Archives and Special Collection. This showcase delves into the personal emotions and feelings that students and alumni faced during the pandemic which is accumulated in nearly 17 pages through the online archive.
William says that the archives are still accepting submissions for the project and will attempt to add more material for future use. Submissions can be made online through the link provided here.
“The main thing about an archive is [to gather information] for later use,” Williams said. “The notion is to preview the material so students and scholars can study for the future.”