May 28, 2020

UMW Libraries’ Collection Captures COVID-19 History

UMW Libraries’ Special Collections and University Archives team is collecting and digitizing a variety of COVID-19 related materials, from diaries to photos to social media posts. Anna Billingsley, associate vice president for University Relations, submitted a screenshot of her personal blog, “Coronavirus Captivity,” chronicling her experiences working remotely and living during the pandemic.

UMW Libraries’ Special Collections and University Archives team is collecting and digitizing a variety of COVID-19 related materials, from diaries to photos to social media posts. Anna Billingsley, associate vice president for University Relations, submitted a screenshot of her personal blog, “Coronavirus Captivity,” chronicling her experiences working remotely and living during the pandemic.

Reference Librarian Peter Catlin was set to get married in Virginia Beach in May. But the state’s COVID-19 stay-at-home order canceling public gatherings put a kink in his wedding plans. Instead, after many attempts, the couple got special permission from Fredericksburg’s clerk of circuit court, who married them on the sidewalk outside the city courthouse.

The nuptials marked the beginning of a life together and, when Catlin typed up his story, something else – a special UMW Libraries initiative named Call to Contribute. “It was a very cool start to the project,” said Records Coordinator Sarah Appleby ’06.

The University’s archiving team likes to dig deep in the past, but its mission is also to gather current experiences so future historians can better understand today. To do that, they are asking the UMW community to help create a record of what lives look like in these days of quarantine, remote learning, hand-sewn masks and Zoom meetings.

“We see history happening, and we have to do something to make sure that doesn’t just go away,” Appleby said of the effort.

The team – Carolyn Parsons ’83, head of Special Collections and University Archives; Angie Kemp ’11, digital resources librarian; and Appleby – will collect and digitize a variety of COVID-19 related materials, from diaries and blogs to artwork and photography. They encourage anyone affiliated with Mary Washington to contribute. Read more.