A Call to Contribute

Today, we are all finding our way through a crisis that future students and scholars will be studying in the years ahead. We know that it is important to preserve as much of the record as possible for future researchers. Staff in Special Collections & University Archives are archiving the University’s response to COVID-19. However, there are important materials that we cannot collect without your help: individual stories. If you’re a UMW community member and have been keeping a record of these events and how they’ve impacted your life, please consider donating them to University Archives in the future. If you haven’t, please consider this a call to write and help us document this unprecedented global crisis.

Photograph of student sitting at the reading room table, holding and studying small bound materials from University Archives.

Archival materials detailing the University of Mary Washington’s history are used in many research projects.

Many of you love to use pencil and paper, and we would be happy to archive original documents and creative works. For example, University Archives currently has over 80 scrapbooks in our collection spanning the decades of UMW’s history. Many represent other major events in our history, such as World War II. Today’s students, staff, and alumni spend hours perusing these materials and we can only imagine that future additions to this collection detailing recent world events will be studied in much the same way. Primary source materials in Special Collections & University Archives can inform many student projects, such as the 2014 digital history project, Century America: The State Normal School and Fredericksburg, VA, 1914-1919, which discusses the impacts of World War I and the Spanish influenza on the college and community. If you keep a handwritten journal, sketchbook, diary, scrapbook, etc. and would like to donate scans of the item but keep the original, that would also be great! Once your journal is complete, we would be happy to create high-resolution scans in the Digital Archiving Lab and return the original to you.

One image showing both a left and right page of a scrapbook. One large black and white photograph is pasted on each page. In both photographs, a group of women are standing around a counter. The counter has a large "V" on the front of it. Above the photograph on the left page, the word "Stamps!!" is written. On the right page, the word "Bonds!!" is written above the photograph.

This “Victory Book” details students’ relief efforts during World War II. It is just one scrapbook among many in Special Collections & University Archives.

There are also many who prefer to create records through a digital medium, such as blogging or podcasting.  We are able to archive many of these formats as well; in fact, that is how we accomplish much of our current collecting. As the majority of news, announcements, and reactions to COVID-19 are published digitally, we are actively using our web archiving tools to collect websites, videos, social media, and more. Take a look at our UMW Blogs collection to see how your website might look in a digital archive, or view our web archives to see some of the digital information we are gathering.

A screenshot of an archived version of UMW's Twitter feed. It has a yellow banner across the top of the page warning users that this is an archived page and may not contain the most recent information. The top post on the Twitter page is UMW's March 18th message, announcing UMW's decision to not return to normal operations this semester.

Web archiving technologies allow Special Collections and University Archives staff to collect historically important changes to UMW’s web presence, such as updates on the University’s operating status via Twitter.

If you decide that you would like to record these events but aren’t yet sure about donating them to University Archives, we understand, and we’re happy to provide any help that we can. The Library of Congress offers an exhaustive list of personal archiving tips, covering a wide range of formats. We also recommend webrecorder.io for archiving your own website. If you would like to read more about other universities’ efforts to archive the COVID-19 crisis, projects at Indiana University Bloomington and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee are great places to start!

If you have questions about archiving your content (or anything else!), please contact us at archives@umw.edu. We are all still working remotely and will respond to your inquiries. For more information about Special Collections & University Archives resources and services during this time, please visit our “Online Resources for Faculty and Students” guide.

March 26, 2020