COVID-19 Stories

We are in the midst of a unique historical event. In the future, scholars will look back on this time to learn about individuals’ and societies’ responses to a worldwide pandemic. While archived news and internet sites will be essential primary sources, the day-to-day, social and emotional experiences of individuals can get lost in the fray. 

Special Collections and University Archives invite you to help us capture and preserve our communities’ experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic. ISU students, faculty, and staff, as well as community members throughout Iowa and the Midwest are invited to share their experiences and thoughts during this unprecedented time. Materials submitted will be gathered into a collection and made available to the public as a contribution to the historical record of these events.

Questions can be directed to  


We have three different projects that individuals can contribute to.

ISU Stories

Open to the entire ISU community, this project seeks to record how faculty, students, staff, alumni, and others are responding to and dealing with the effects of COVID-19.

Agriculture, Food, and Rural Stories

Open to the broader community, these projects focus on the effects of COVID-19 on rural and small-town life, people’s relations to agriculture and local food systems, and cooking during the pandemic. [More info]

Chronicling Race and Ethnicity During COVID-19

Open to the broader community, this project seeks to record the experiences of communities of color that have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19, and/or have experienced harassment and stigmatization. [More info]

How to participate 

  1. Capture your experiences during this pandemic
  • Keep a journal (see writing prompts under your project page if you are looking for inspiration), scrapbook, blog, artistic/creative project, or record a series of audio/video recordings documenting your experiences, thoughts, and feelings during this time
  • Take photos or write a photoessay (include captions!)
  • Sign up for an oral history (see below)
  1. Submit your materials (note: Please read the below terms and conditions prior to submission)

Once you are ready to share your story click on the button below to fill out a form and submit materials via URL or file upload (Google account required). We also recommend including a preferred photo and short bio to provide context for your story.

For questions, please contact

If you are submitting physical materials please contact us at to make arrangements.


Need help getting started or not sure where to begin? We have created a few prompts below to help stimulate your thoughts, but feel free to be creative in sharing your story however you would like. See also individual projects descriptions for specific prompts. 

  • Did you move off campus suddenly due to COVID-19? What was that experience like, what kind of help did you have? Do you still have personal belongings on campus? 

  • How are your online classes going? What kinds of messages have you received from professors? How are other students handling the changes? How are you handling it? 

  • Are you involved in student organizations, sports or clubs? How has COVID-19 and campus response affected those? 

  • What is happening in your daily life at home? How are your parents/friends/partners/etc. doing? 

  • Do/did you have a job on or off campus? What kind of work did you do, and how has that been affected by COVID-19, lock-downs, and quarantine? 

  • Are you or anyone you know sick? What symptoms, response from medical personnel? Getting COVID testing? 

  • Do you work in healthcare? What are your experiences? Have you had problems getting access to PPE? How are your working conditions? 

  • How has your experience getting everyday items like groceries and household goods (cleaning supplies, paper goods, etc.) been? Have there been shortages? 

Keep in mind that important information for historians will include times and dates of events, observations, and entries, names of geographic locations, organizations, people, and/or other factual information that provides context to your story.  Please do not include any personal information, aside from names, of any individuals including yourself. Personal information includes addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, etc.  

For additional help getting started, including individual consultations, please consult the Writing and Media Center. The Writing and Media Center strives to inspire Iowa State University students, staff, faculty, and community members to develop in all forms of communication by promoting the values of critical thinking, creativity, and lifelong learning. In support of the Iowa State University Library’s project chronicling COVID-19 stories, we are happy to offer one-on-one online consulting. We can help you brainstorm, draft, revise, and polish your story. We can also help you determine the best method for conveying your story, whether that be an essay, poem, video, or more. Please visit to schedule an appointment.


Once you are ready to share your story click on the button below to fill out a form and submit materials via URL or file upload (Google account required). Note: Please read the below terms and conditions before submitting your story. For questions, please contact  


Sign up for an oral history 

If you would like to be interviewed as part of our COVID-19 Oral History Project, please click below to fill out a form and we will contact you to schedule a Zoom interview, typically 30-45 minutes in length. Note: oral histories are subject to the below terms and conditions. For questions, please contact Mark Barron

Sign up for oral history

Terms and Conditions 

By submitting your story to the University Archives, you agree to the following Terms and Conditions: 

  • Digital materials will be added to a Digital Collection, will become part of  Special Collections and University Archives  housed in the  Iowa State University  Library, and will be made available in conformance with our mission of facilitating teaching, learning, and research.   

  • Physical materials will become part of Special Collections and University Archives housed in the Iowa State University Library through our regular donation process and donors must sign a deed of gift. Materials will be made available to the public when processed and according to the terms of the deed of gift. 

  • For purposes of clarity,  in participating in the COVID-19 Stories Project I  understand that  I hereby grant ISU  all necessary rights to use the materials,  my name,  image,  and likeness  in any way, in all media now known or later invented, and may make the materials available on the Internet  or in any other medium  for public access and distribution, promotion, or marketing, unless content release or display restrictions are otherwise specified in this agreement.  I hereby represent and warrant that I am the owner or have the rights to use any and all material provided by me as part of my participation in the ISU COVID-19 Stories Project.    

  • Digital submissions will be assigned a Creative Commons license. Under Creative Commons licenses creators retain copyright interest in the materials yet permit anyone to use the materials under the terms of the below license. This license allows Iowa State to use the interview materials in conformance with the Terms of Deposit and in addition, authorize Iowa State to attach version 4.0 of the Creative Commons License specified below.  

 CC BY-NC-SA Attribution Noncommercial Share Alike
This license lets others share and adapt your work non-commercially, as long as they credit you, indicate if changes were made, and license their new creations under the identical terms. See 

  • I will be able to either release content immediately upon deposit or select a future date for release should I wish to restrict my materials for a period of time.

  • Submissions from those under 18 years old require consent of an adult.

  • I hereby release Iowa State University, their officers, employees, and agents (RELEASEES) from any liability or claim that arises out of or is related to the use or dissemination of my story.  I agree that I am to receive no further consideration other than that already received for any further or future uses by RELEASEES.  I intend for this agreement to be binding on my heirs, successors, and assigns, and it represents the entire agreement between RELEASEES and me regarding the matters herein agreed.