Skip to Main Content

Archives & Special Collections

Documenting COVID-19: Archiving the Present for the Future

by Dylan McDonald on 2020-04-23T00:00:00-06:00 | 0 Comments

The changes brought to New Mexico in response to the outbreak and spread of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), commonly known as COVID-19 or the coronavirus, cannot be overstated.  Following the March 11, 2020 public health emergency declared by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, New Mexicans have worked to combat the pandemic in their homes, workplaces, and communities by remaining calm, following health directives, limiting travel, and socially distancing themselves. 












   NMSU Library Facebook post, March 20, 2020


The New Mexico State University community – students, staff, faculty, administrators, and alumni – has endured dramatic changes to the normal academic calendar.  With access to campus tightly controlled, instruction and learning has moved into the digital realm.  Students and employees study and work from home as campus services and residence halls are temporarily shuttered.  Across campus events, activities, and athletic competitions were cancelled or postponed, and the spring 2020 graduation will be held virtually.  The social aspect of the educational process took a backseat to a period of social distancing and self-quarantine that formally began when NMSU Chancellor Dan Arvizu ordered a two-week spring break starting on March 16. 

Creating an Archive 

In hopes of documenting the effects brought by COVID-19 to NMSU, Las Cruces, and Southern New Mexico, the staff at the Archives and Special Collections (ASC) is reaching out to collect and record the response to this crisis.  While the traditional archival collecting model waits for events to run their course before documentary evidence is acquired, archivists around the country are creating rapid response collections to document this historic event (for examples, see the A Journal of the Plague Year: An Archive of COVID-19COVID-19 Web Archives, and COVID-19 Oral History Project).  Future scholars, historians, scientists, health experts, and students will want to understand how we in 2020 reacted and experienced this pandemic.   

We are primarily collecting digital artifacts, including your emails, journal/diary entries, photographs and videos, voice memos and audio recordings, digital art, and other documentation of how the pandemic has affected you. This portal will allow you to share your story and permit us to share and preserve it at ASC.

How you document your thoughts and experiences during this period of pandemic is up to you.  Be led by a documentary and creative mindset. The emphasis is on self-expression, candor, and a willingness to be a social commentator.  To document life as you experienced it, we suggest: 

  • Writing a journal/diary or letter 
  • Recording voice memos and interviews
  • Capturing social media posts and emails
  • Snapping photos/videos 
  • Creating art or multimedia works of digital storytelling 
  • Sharing records from your business showing how it responded to the crisis (graphics, correspondence, business announcements, etc.) 












Notice of Klein Park Closure, Las Cruces, April 14, 2020


Please remember to comply with university and local/state stay-at-home orders while self-documenting. 

Not sure what to document?  The COVID-19 Questionnaire might help you get started telling your story.  No need to answer all the questions, just the ones you wish to address.  The four-part, An Archivist’s COVID-19 Journal, can also provide some ideas on what you might wish to capture in your submission.  Once you have completed your thoughts, save the digital file and upload it along with the required information.  You need not limit yourself to one submission – feel free to contribute over the coming months as the effects of this pandemic continue to impact the NMSU community.   

Submission Process 

Please use the COVID-19 form, linked below, to submit your digital items. In submitting material, you agree to allow NMSU to preserve your materials and make them available for public use.  The form provides important information about the copyright and use of your content. We accept most types of digital formats, including photos (jpg, png), videos (mp4, mov), audio (mp3), and text (txt, pdf, docx, doc) up to 100MB. If you are unable to digitally transfer materials to ASC, or have physical items you wish us to consider, please email us ( for further instructions. 

ASC staff reviews all submissions against department acquisition guidelines and appropriateness to the collection, and therefore items will not be available to the public immediately.  Upon completion of cataloging, material will be made available via the library’s digital collection


 Add a Comment



Enter your e-mail address to receive notifications of new posts by e-mail.


  Return to Blog
This post is closed for further discussion.