Library of Congress Launches COVID-19 American History Project

AMTV/WASHINGTON D.C., May 26 – Today, The Library of Congress has announced the congressionally-funded COVID-19 American History Project, a multiyear effort to collect, preserve and make available to the public the oral histories of frontline healthcare workers, survivors of loved ones who died, and others impacted by the pandemic. The project will also encourage the public to share their COVID-19 experiences with StoryCorps, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving and sharing humanity’s stories.

The project is now accepting proposals from researchers to document the experiences of American frontline workers in a range of sectors — through photos, videos, field notes and audio recordings. Awardees will receive up to $30,000. Interested applicants are asked to submit initial concept papers by June 20 using this link. Selected applicants will be asked to submit full project proposals.

As part of the project, the Library’s American Folklife Center has created an online resource guide, highlighting the many COVID-19 oral history collections already developed from across the United States.

In addition, the American Folklife Center will encourage the public to share personal stories through StoryCorps by accessing a series of virtual tools available on this page. All stories recorded with StoryCorps will be preserved at the American Folklife Center.

Since the start of the pandemic in early 2020 and through May 6, 2023, more than 1 million Americans have lost their lives to COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, while the global public health crisis has challenged the U.S. healthcare system as never before.

“Every American has a unique story about the COVID-19 pandemic. It is vital that we document these stories so future generations will understand the trials, tribulations, and resilience of the American public during this tumultuous time,” said Nicole Saylor, director of the American Folklife Center. “We designed the COVID-19 American History Project so that many Americans, and key frontline workers, can share their stories and have them archived at the Library of Congress.”

Oral histories and related documentation kept at the American Folklife Center will provide historians, researchers, authors, journalists, government officials and the American public original sources of information to strengthen their understanding of individual and collective experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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