Aerial view of campus with Williamsport, the Susquehanna River and Bald Eagle Mountain as a backdrop

Documenting COVID-19

Documenting the experiences of the Lycoming College community during the COVID-19 pandemic:

During the 1918 influenza pandemic nearly one-third of the world’s population became infected with the H1N1 virus. From October 6 to mid-November 1918, Lycoming College’s predecessor institution, Williamsport Dickinson Seminary (WDS), voluntarily instituted a quarantine and confined everyone to campus for nearly six weeks. Classes continued as scheduled and church services were held in the chapel every Sunday. Most importantly, the Seminary’s efforts prevented the death of any students, faculty, or staff, from a virus that was particularly lethal to people in the 20-40 age group.

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The history of this influenza pandemic is well documented and the actions of the WDS administration during the quarantine are known. However, with the exception of a short excerpt from the November 1918 student newspaper (right), very little remains to tell us how the students, faculty, and staff felt about and reacted to the quarantine of campus and the pandemic in general.

Nearly 102 years later, our present-day students, faculty, and staff are dealing with another historic pandemic in the form of the COVID-19 coronavirus. As we all navigate our way through this challenging time, we are also presented with an opportunity to record and preserve the history of this pandemic, and how it has impacted the Lycoming College community. The material we create, collect, and preserve today will help future historians, researchers, and students learn about the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic’s impact on us as individuals and as a community.

What we are looking for:

In an effort to document and preserve this historic time, the Lycoming College Archives invites all students, faculty, and staff to document and submit materials that illustrate their own personal experiences. We welcome information about navigating the sudden transition to remote instruction, the shift in working from on-campus to off-campus locations, stories about studying and working at home, how you remain in contact with friends and family while observing the protocols for social-distancing and quarantines, the emotional impact of the pandemic, and so forth. While these are major areas of interest, even the seemingly mundane is also worth recording.

Methods of participating:

Record your personal experiences in a format that is comfortable to you. We welcome the submission of journals, letters, photos/videos, screenshots of social media posts, and audio recordings (note: make sure you have consent of all parties before recording them in audio or video formats). Feel free to think of creative ways to record events: What would like to have preserved that will help those in the future understand what we are currently experiencing? Those interested in keeping a journal do not need to worry about spelling and grammar, and can even record their thoughts in audio or video format. We recognize that this is a very busy time and do not wish this to be a labor-intensive project. The primary goal is to record your personal experiences whenever you have the energy and time. That said, as the situation is changing daily and has already changed drastically over the last few weeks, the sooner you can begin recording events, the better. Chances are many of you have already recorded events without thinking of them in terms of their historical value.

Submitting material to the archives:

Please use this Microsoft Form to submit your materials, even if you plan on submitting physical items, as it gives the archives permission to preserve your material and also includes important information about copyright and the use of your materials. The archives can accept items in most typical formats, but if you have questions about specific items please contact Sean Baker, Archives Technician at: bakers@lycoming.edu.  If you interview other people for this project, or if you collaborate with others to make material, we will also need their permission so we can preserve the material and make it accessible to the public. Submitted material will not be immediately available to the public. The material will be made available upon review and processing by Lycoming College Archives Staff. For any other questions about this project please contact Sean Baker, Archives Technician at: bakers@lycoming.edu