Skip to Main Content

Documenting the Impact of the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) at Northwestern University

About the Project

Right now, we are living history in the making.

Because Northwestern University Archives strives to document the history of our institution, we have an obligation to document this history — the coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic — and how it impacts members of the Northwestern community. 

Help us capture this experience as it unfolds. We are seeking volunteers who will keep and submit a journal while they "shelter in place.” We’re interested in your revised daily routines, the effect of these changes on your academic and work lives, and the impact of practicing “social distancing.” 

The coronavirus has been and will continue to be life-changing for so many. Years from now, the documentation we collect today will inform us of how the pandemic impacted members of our Northwestern community and beyond.

To submit your journal, please fill out this Google form:

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there a required format?

There is no right or wrong way to document your experience. We invite you to share about the impact of the Coronavirus on your life in a format that you feel comfortable. Also, we accept handwritten, typed, audio, or video entries.

The form gives three submission options:

  1. Journal entries
  2. One-time written, audio, or video submission
  3. Facilitated oral history interview with an archivist (Please contact the archives to schedule an appointment,  

How often should I write or record?

It is up to you to determine how often you would like to record your entries (ex. daily, weekly, monthly). Also, there are no requirements for the length of your responses. Additionally, we realize that everyone will have different levels of commitment to this project. If, for example, you decide to submit a one-time response, you might consider providing a follow-up response a few months later to speak to developments since your last submission.

Is there a deadline to submit my entry? 

No, since this is an ongoing collection, you can submit your entries at any time and as frequently as you wish.  

Can you recommend some topics I can address in my entry?

The prompts below can help guide your responses, but please don't feel limited to only answering these questions:

  • Describe your daily routine.
  • How was the pandemic discussed in classes and extracurriculars prior to the campus closing?
  • Describe your experience leaving campus for spring break.
  • If applicable, describe changes implemented to accommodate winter quarter finals?
  • Share your thoughts on the administration's responses and decision-making. Did you feel protected?
  • How did your coursework/work change before spring break and after?
  • Describe how you kept informed on local, national, international news, and updates from Northwestern.
  • Describe your impressions of media coverage.
  • Describe the challenges you experienced and how you adjusted.
  • Describe how you connected with classmates, faculty, colleagues while "social distancing."
  • Describe the impact of the Coronavirus on your family and local community.
  • What role has technology played in your life during the pandemic?

Is there anything I should avoid discussing?

As you record your thoughts, remember to be mindful of other people’s privacy. If you know the identity of people diagnosed or self-isolating, please do not disclose that information in your journal entries. Ensuring the anonymity of individuals diagnosed is paramount. Keep in mind that such information is confidential and protected under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

Can my submission be anonymous?

Yes, if you prefer not to have your name and any other identifying information associated with your donation, we will keep your donation anonymous. If that is the case, you can select that option in the form.

I don’t feel comfortable making my submission available immediately. Can my submission be restricted for a period of time?

Yes, you have the option to place a time restriction on your donation. Know that you can control the access to your words and content when you decide to make them publicly available for research. We will protect your privacy at all costs if that is your wish. Please contact us at to speak to an archivist to help you decide on a restriction that works for you.

I have other materials that shed light on my COVID-19 experience. Can I submit those items as well?

Yes! If you have digital or physical materials that are relevant to your experience, such as e-mail correspondence, text messages, audio recordings, videos, coursework, websites, social media posts, photographs, artwork, etc., please consider donating them. Please contact with a description of what you are interested in donating. Your donation will be archived and made available at the McCormick Library of Special Collections and University Archives.

If you prefer to keep the original item, please consider scanning it and uploading it here. Please scan documents to at least 300 dpi, high resolution. Also, if you are submitting photographs, please include any contextual information. For example, identify the people in the photo(s), provide a brief description, date, and name of the photographer, if you know it.

I'm a member of the faculty, and I'm interested in making this a class assignment. Is there anything I should convey to my students?  

That’s wonderful! We hope this will be a great learning experience for your students. Please ask your students to consider donating their entries to the archives. Let them know that doing so is entirely voluntary. If they choose to donate their entries, they will be archived and made available for future research at the McCormick Library of Special Collections and University Archives. They can always contact us if they have questions about the process.

McCormick Library of Special Collections & University Archives



Contact Us: 

McCormick Library of Special Collections & University Archives 

Phone: 847.491.3635


Mailing Address: 1970 Campus Drive Evanston, IL 60208