UWEC creates digital archive for COVID-19

Published: May. 8, 2020 at 4:33 PM CDT
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The story of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Chippewa Valley is being captured.

"We have a bunch of different folks across the community in different communities in the Chippewa Valley so we want to preserve those stories too,” says Dr. Cheryl Jimenez Frei, Ph.D, Assistant Professor of History at UWEC.

Students in UW-Eau Claire's public history seminar class are creating a digital archive, so that this moment in history is properly preserved.

"This is a rapid response collection effort is what public historians know it as, is to collect artifacts of a historic moment as it's happening,” says Dr. Frei.

Dr. Frei collaborated with the campus archivist and the Chippewa Valley Museum to document the stories tied to the virus' impact in the area. The goal is to capture the voices not normally preserved in times of historic events.

“We're trying to capture this moment in time because memory changes over time,” says Shane Carlson.

Shane Carlson, a graduate student, is contributing to the project, and says he wants to share how his life has changed.

“I'm just trying to capture the big differences that you notice like going to Woodman's and seeing all the precautions,” he says.

The archive is crowdsourced, allowing people to contribute their own artifacts.

“All of us feel helpless, in this moment, is that all of us feel ‘what can we do’, and all of our students came together and this is what we can do as historians in this moment, is we can help preserve the stories of COVID-19 and how it's affected the region,” says Dr. Frei.

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