So, you’ve decided to keep a Coronavirus diary- now what?

April 16-18, 1863, page of James Overholser's Civil War diary (MS-5)
April 16-18, 1863, page of James Overholser’s Civil War diary (MS-5). Click to enlarge image, or view entire diary on CORE Scholar.

Have you decided to document your experience of the Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic crisis? This could include a written diary or blog, audio or video, scrapbook, images or photos, sketchbook, etc. Any of these formats (and others) can be a diary.

Whether or not you are planning to donate your personal record to us here at Special Collections & Archives, it’s awesome that you’ve decided to keep a diary! Not only are diaries invaluable windows to the past for those who may read them in the future, but they can also be extremely useful, therapeutic tools for the diary author as well.

But sometimes, it can be difficult to get started on that diary, or to think of what you might include in that diary. So, below are some things to think about, with regards to current events, to help you get started:

  • What did you do today (or this week)? How was that different than what you would do on a “normal” day/week?
  • What changes have you personally experienced (physically, mentally, and/or emotionally) since this crisis began?
  • What changes have you observed in your family, your friends, or your local community?
  • Are you a student or a teacher? Where and how do you normally attend school? Has this changed? How’s that going? Or is there a student or teacher in your family? How is the crisis affecting their schooling situation?
  • Do you typically work outside the home? What is your job normally like? What is it like right now? Are you still working, whether on-site or remotely? Why or why not? How’s that going?
  • Are you practicing social distancing? Why or why not? What are you doing? How is this affecting your relationships? How do you stay in touch with family and friends?
  • Has this crisis changed (whether voluntarily or involuntarily) any of your plans for day-to-day errands, travel, visiting, leisure activities, celebrations, religious activities, etc.?
  • What do you think about the actions of government leaders in response to this crisis?
  • What has been the most difficult thing for you personally about this crisis? Do you think there’s anything positive that may come from what’s happening?

If these questions don’t speak to you, don’t help you, then don’t use them.

Perhaps the best suggestion is also the simplest: just record your current life experiences during this time frame, whatever those are, however you want to document them.

The main thing is, just get started. The rest will come to you.

UPDATE: We now have a Document Your Story homepage, where you can find the latest information on this project.

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