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Jan 11, 2023

USU COVID-19 Oral History Digital Collection Now Live

A digital collection of Utah State University administrators, faculty, staff and student oral histories pertaining to the COVID-19 Pandemic is now available to the public through USU’s Institutional Repository.

The last time USU faced a pandemic was more than a hundred years ago, in fall 1918. Evidence, especially firsthand accounts, of that period in USU’s history is limited in the archives. The University’s Libraries’ Special Collections & Archives sought to ensure that generations of future historians would be able to understand the institutional effects of COVID-19 on USU by collecting oral histories of USU administrators, faculty, staff and students as they experienced the effects of a global pandemic.

Graduate Fellow Tameron Williams began working on the collection in January 2022 under the direction of Archival Librarian Todd Welch. Williams conducted 104 oral history interviews, including an interview with USU President Noelle Cockett.

“People had a lot to say about the pandemic, from the inspirational to the introspective,” Williams said. “Still, in all those stories it is clear that everyone was just doing the most they could with what they had.”

After the oral histories were recorded and transcribed, they were added to USU Special Collections University Archives.

“For future researchers who listen to these 5, 10, 20 years from now, I think there will be much to be said about how people responded in difficult circumstances and especially how lasting the lessons we learned from the pandemic were,” Williams said.

University Archivist Kelly Rovegno agreed with Williams.

“The COVID-19 pandemic had far-reaching consequences across every aspect of life, including at Utah State University,” Rovegno said. “This project will assist future students, faculty, staff and scholars to learn and understand about the procedures and policies USU developed and implemented to maintain operations during the pandemic of 2020-2021.”

Funding for this collection was made possible by USU central administration and the recordings and transcripts are availabe digitally at https://digitalcommons.usu.edu/covid/.

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