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ODU COVID-19 Archive

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You Visit Tour. Perry Library June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

Contribute to the COVID-19 Archive

Documenting life at ODU and in Hampton Roads during the COVID-19 crisis

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic is an extraordinary event. The crisis is one that is shared around the world; however, the events that unfold are being experienced in unique ways by different communities, families and friends, and individuals.

Looking back at similar events in the past, we find that diaries and other personal histories are some of the most valuable and beloved tools used to learn about such experiences: how people got their information, how they spent their time, and how they took care of themselves and each other.

To document this moment in history, The Old Dominion Libraries' Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) encourages members of the ODU and Hampton Roads community to keep your own record of living through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Write journal entries or poetry, draw pictures, take photos, or capture your experience in whatever way you prefer! Don't worry about perfect spelling, punctuation, or grammar. (Unless that's your thing!) Focus instead on expressing your thoughts and feelings about the things that are happening in your world right now.

ODU Special Collections and University Archives welcomes donations of these materials to preserve them so that people in the future can know what we had to say about the times we went through. By submitting your materials to the archive, they will be kept safe and accessible to future researchers. If you would like to take part in this project, SCUA will accept your materials in digital or physical form.

If you would like to participate but do not yet have materials ready to submit, please complete a Participation Form to tell us about your interest. The questions in the form help us document your information, keep you updated on the project, and provide information on how to submit your materials.

When you have materials ready to submit, please fill out a separate Submission Form. This will formalize your submission, allow you to complete our legal agreement forms, and provide you with further details on how to deliver your physical and/or digital materials.

We have provided a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) below. If you have additional questions or need further information, please contact SCUA at LIBspecialcollections@odu.edu .

Thank you!

Frequently Asked Questions


What is the difference between the Participation Form and the Submission Form?

The Participation Form should be completed by anyone interested in participating in the project who does not have materials ready for submission. It allows us to collect information that will help our archive prepare for your materials and to contact you with any follow-up information later.

  • Filling out this form does NOT mean you are required to submit materials later! It is simply an indication of your interest in the project.

The Submission Form should be filled out when you have documented your experience and are ready to submit your materials for permanent inclusion in the archive. It formally documents your submission, includes our legal documentation to finalize your donation, and contains instructions on how to submit your physical or digital materials.


Who can participate?

We are looking for participants who are connected to ODU (such as faculty, staff, students, alumni) regardless of geographic location. We also welcome participation from residents of the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. If you do not have either of these connections, you can look for an institution local to you who is collecting COVID-19 stories. Regardless of whether you choose to submit your materials to any institution, however, we encourage you to document your experience!

Can my child (under 18 years old) participate?

Unfortunately, they cannot, because they cannot legally complete the agreements that are part of the submission requirements until they are 18 years of age or older.

My [child, relative, friend, student] created something great that I would like to submit on their behalf. Can I do so?

No. Our submission form includes legal agreements that only the creator of the materials can complete. Creators - especially students - cannot be compelled, incentivized, or otherwise required to submit their materials to our archive. However, if you know someone 18 years or older who has created something about their COVID-19 experience, please let them know about our project and encourage them to submit!

I am a faculty member; can I make documenting COVID-19 experiences part of a class assignment?

You can! However, you cannot require students to submit their materials to the ODU archives, incentivize them to do so, or enact any other pressure. You may make them aware of this ODU archives collection project as an optional possibility for donation.

Documenting Your Experience – TOPICS

What should I document in my project?

Future researchers will want to know anything you'd like to tell them about your experience living through the pandemic. Everyone's experiences are unique, and the more we can get a broad range of topics, the better a picture we can paint of the way we dealt with these extraordinary events. Examples of things you might document include (but are NOT limited to!):

  • Work situation. Are you a healthcare worker, grocery or pharmacy employee, or other essential worker? Have you lost a job, or are looking for a new one? Are you adjusting to working from home? What technologies are you using for professional activity?
  • Home situation. How are you adjusting to quarantine situations? Are you by yourself or living with family/friends, and how are you handling that situation? Is your type of home (such as city or rural; apartment or house; rental or owned) affecting your situation?
  • Communication and social connection. How are you communicating with friends and family? Are you using social media? What social support do you have? How are you taking part in social groups such as churches, game groups, or sports teams?
  • Caregiving. Are you caring for children or other people who need care? Has that caregiving changed, and how?
  • Feelings and emotions. What makes you worried? What are you thankful for? Have things become more frustrating for you? Are there things that have gotten easier?
  • Changes in your community. Are people in your community outside less or more? What are they doing? Do you interact less or more with your neighbors? Have there been changes in road traffic or air traffic? What about noise or air pollution? How is community information being spread?
  • Changes in the world. How are you getting information about local and world news? How do you feel about world events?

Are there things that I should NOT document?

Yes. Because the COVID-19 epidemic is a public health crisis, it is understandable that you would want to document information about your health or the health of others. However, this is information protected by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

  • At the time of submitting your materials to ODU Special Collections and Archives, you will be asked to agree to a Personal Health Information Agreement. You will be able to review this agreement before finalizing your submission.
  • Your materials should not include information about the health of other people that includes personally identifiable health information, or information that would allow a third party to identify them. If you do choose to include such information, either:
    • The person(s) whose information you include must also agree to our Personal Health Information Agreement, OR
    • The entire submission must be anonymized for both the submitter (yourself) and any other parties identifiable in your submission.

Please contact us at LIBspecialcollections@odu.edu with any questions.

How often should I write/record/otherwise document my experience?

As often as you want to! You can put together a one-time record, or document daily/weekly/monthly - whatever you are comfortable with that allows you to express your experience.

Documenting Your Experience - FORMATS

What format should I use to document my experience?

Whatever format you are most comfortable with and that allows you the best expression! Writing, art, audiovisual recordings, or whatever else you like. We will accept physical materials as well as digital materials. We can handle most common digital formats, but if you are using specialized software or equipment please contact us at LIBspecialcollections@odu.edu to discuss your materials before submitting.

Can I use multiple formats?

Yes! For instance, if you'd like to include digital photographs with a written journal, a video recording with an artwork, or any other combination of materials, we can accept such a submission.


How do I submit materials?

Fill out the Submission Form which will include our Donation Agreement and Personal Health Information Agreement. When the Submission Form is complete, here is how you may submit your actual materials:

  • PHYSICAL OBJECTS: Unfortunately, we cannot accept physical objects until the University Libraries reopen. Once we reopen, we can accept them in one of two ways:
    • You may bring them to Special Collections and University Archives (on the 3rd floor of Perry Library), OR
    • You may mail them to us at: Special Collections & University Archives, Perry Library 3023, Old Dominion University Libraries, Norfolk Virginia 23529
  • DIGITAL MATERIAL: please email LIBspecialcollections@odu.edu with either:
    • Your materials attached to the email, OR
    • A link from which we can download your materials, such as a link to a file sharing service (ex: Box, OneDrive, Dropbox, Google Drive). Links to YouTube videos or webpages cannot be accepted.

Please contact us at LIBspecialcollections@odu.edu with any questions.

Can I make more than one submission?

Yes. You may submit materials all at once, or you may submit them in installments. If you choose to submit them in installments, you will have to complete the submission form each time.

Can any public references to my name be replaced with “Anonymous”?

Yes. We offer this option so that you feel comfortable enough to be honest in your submission.

If you request this option, we will strip any references to your name and any other individuals' names out of the materials before they are made available to the public, and replace them with "Anonymous". (Ex: Instead of "My name is John Smith, and I am writing about being a student," people will read "My name is Anonymous, and I am writing about being a student.") You will also be publicly listed as "Anonymous" as the creator and donor of these materials, although the archive will retain internal information as to your identity.

You may also choose to have only last names removed, so that any names that appear in your materials are publicly represented by first names only.

If you are interested in this option, please note it when you complete the Submission Form.

Can my submission be restricted?

Yes. When you request this option, we will not allow your materials to be accessed or used until the duration of the restriction is up, unless we receive a subpoena or other legal mandate. We can restrict access to your material in increments of 5 years, starting at 5 years and going up to 30 years.

Will I retain copyright of my submitted material?

Yes, you will keep copyright to your materials. The Submission Agreement gives ODU a license to add the material to our archival collections and to preserve it for future use. The agreement also allows Old Dominion University to make your material available online under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which will allow others to share and adapt the material, as long as you are given appropriate credit. You will be able to review this agreement before finalizing your submission.

Is there a deadline for submitting my materials?

No. Because the events of the pandemic are still unfolding, at this time we do not have a deadline or a date by which the project will be closed. If we do create an end date, we will post it on this webpage; if you have filled out a Participation Form, we will also use the contact information you provided in that form to follow up with you.