The University of New Orleans Midlo Center for New Orleans Studies, in partnership with the New Orleans Jazz Museum, is joining Arizona State University to build an archival website that chronicles the global impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
The online archive is called Journal of the Plague Year. The goal is to create a historical record of the pandemic as it unfolds so that future generations will have a record of what people are experiencing in this unprecedented time, Midlo co-director Connie Atkinson said.
To that end, the UNO historians are collecting material—including personal stories, cancellation notices and photographs—that reflect the effect of COVID-19 in New Orleans.
“We are particularly interested in the experience of those involved in our city’s cultural community—musicians, artists, hospitality workers, family businesses, as history is being made daily,” said Atkinson.
The project is modeled, in part, on pioneering digital archives produced by the late UNO history professor Michael Mizell-Nelson after Hurricane Katrina. Mizell-Nelson had been inspired by the 9/11 Archive, said UNO history professor Mary Niall Mitchell, who is co-director of the Midlo Center.
“Today our digital capacity is even greater,” Mitchell said. “In partnership with ASU, we are eager to preserve what we can from New Orleans's cultural community, in particular, and the challenges musicians, artists and hospitality workers are facing right now.
“Perhaps more than any other group, they feed the life of this city and make it a destination for tourists from around the world.”
People are asked to share experiences and impressions of how COVID-19 has affected their lives, from the mundane to the extraordinary. That information can be shared here.
“With a public digital archive like Journal of the Plague Year, we can document their experiences,” Mitchell said. “And as with 9/11 and Katrina, we hope that by preserving blog posts and other digital ephemera the economic and cultural effects of this pandemic will not be forgotten in the future.”
Types of information to share include:
• Images: photographs, screen captures (including from your phone or laptop) of social media, media, communications, memes, and other expressions of the moment.
• Audio histories
• Video clips--taken of the world, including yourself speaking, or of social media memes
• Files: emails, announcements, text messages, scientific documents, and flyers
Mitchell and Atkinson are site curators, with UNO alumna Kathryn O'Dwyer serving as project lead for the Midlo Center.
For additional information on the project, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.