What have Covid-19 shutdowns meant for you personally? Have you been learning how to bake bread or sew? How are you staying in touch with family and friends? Local heritage organizations want to know!
Heritage NL, in partnership with The Rooms, is collecting personal stories for an oral history project about the experiences of living through a pandemic. The “Covid-19 NL Oral History Project” invites Newfoundlanders and Labradorians living in the province or away to document their memories and thoughts about what is happening to them or in their communities during the current novel coronavirus situation.
The project is designed to document how the virus is affecting the lives of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, and to archive their collective memories. Interested volunteers can request to be interviewed over the phone or web, can self-record a voice memo or video, they can interview a family member, and submit their file by email, or complete an online questionnaire.
The collected material will become part of a permanent online archive for future generations of students and researchers and may be included in a future physical or online exhibit at The Rooms.
“Recording oral histories is one way to better understand the Covid-19 pandemic and the effects it is having on the lives of ordinary people,” says Heritage NL folklorist Dale Jarvis. “To create a historical record of how everyday people are responding to this event, we have developed sample questions and easy ways for people to share their stories.”
While all personal stories of the pandemic are of interest, Jarvis is particularly curious about the informal stories of health care workers and those working on the front lines of the pandemic: nurses, emergency responders, home care workers, grocery clerks, and the like.
The oral histories are part of a longer ongoing project that The Rooms curatorial staff is engaging with the community on to gather materials related to people's experiences of the pandemic. These materials may be integrated into an exhibition, collections, or social media at a later date. The Rooms is looking for materials that reflect the culturally specific ways that Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are dealing with this global event.
If you have a memory or story to share or want more information on the project, contact either Dale Jarvis at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the project website at www.hfnl.ca. To submit a physical object for consideration, email Maureen Peters, Curator of History at MPeters@therooms.ca.