Empty food court in Lower Place Riel at the University of Saskatchewan. (Photo: David Bindle)

USask introduces community-driven COVID-19 digital archive

The University of Saskatchewan (USask) has launched a COVID-19 Community Archive to document life in Saskatchewan during the global health crisis.

“We want to help capture the everyday experiences alongside the formal responses to COVID-19,” said Dr. Erika Dyck (PhD), a USask history professor and Canada Research Chair in the History of Medicine 

As a community-driven initiative, the digital archive will include submissions from residents that chronicle individual or collective experiences. This includes photographs, social media posts, videos, creative projects, email, blog entries, journals, and personal reflections. 

“Beyond it being useful for future historians, it has also been comforting to share the various strategies for coping and helping each other during COVID-19,” said Dyck. 

Through web archiving, interviews and other initiatives, the project team will also gather documentation such as news releases, policy changes, essential services declarations, and the VIDO-InterVac response. 

“The internet allows us to collect material posted online, add metadata to help organize it and preserve the digital texts and artifacts for future research,” said history professor Dr. Jim Clifford (PhD). 

The purpose of the archive is to provide valuable source material for researchers—faculty, students, journalists, historians and writers—studying how the COVID-19 pandemic has transformed the university and the province at large. 

The project is a partnership between faculty in the Department of History in USask’s College of Arts and Science and units in the University Library, including University Archives and Special Collections (UASC) and the Digital Research Centre (DRC). 

“It will be exciting to see the archive develop into something that can be used for everything from reflection to research for decades to come,” said Craig Harkema, co-director of the DRC.  

The COVID-19 Community Archive content can be viewed and submitted online at covid19archive.usask.ca. 

The University of Saskatchewan is undertaking critical research and contributing to global efforts to combat COVID-19. The University of Saskatchewan's Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO-InterVac) is a world leader in developing vaccines and technologies to combat infectious diseases. Your support of the COVID-19 Research Fund supports the increased efforts of researchers at the University of Saskatchewan to develop vaccines and treatments for COVID-19. Donate now.

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