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 invites you to help us gather 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. 

We recognize that this is a time of uncertainty, upheaval, sadness, and loss for many people. You may not be in a mental and/or emotional space  to process or share your feelings and experiences right now. Please know that, if you are interested in participating, we will welcome your contributions at a time when you are ready to share them.  

Questions can be directed to  


We have four 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. [Learn more about ISU Stories]

Iowa Stories

Open to all Iowans, this project seeks to record the effects of COVID-19 throughout the state residents. Individuals who have submitted to other, more specific projects are also welcome to submit to this all-inclusive project. [Learn more about Iowa Stories]

Agriculture, Food, and Rural Stories

Open to the broader Midwest 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. [Learn more about Agriculture, Food, and Rural Stories]

Chronicling Race and Ethnicity During COVID-19

Open to the broader Midwest 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. [Learn more about Chronicling Race and Ethnicity During COVID-19]

How to participate 

  1. Record 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). The oral history project is ongoing with plans to continue for the duration of the pandemic and its immediate aftermath. 
  1. Submit your materials (note: Please read the below terms and conditions prior to submission)

You can donate journals, photographs, and other documentation that you create at any time in the future. 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, including how to submit physical materials, please contact


Need help getting started or not sure where to begin? See individual projects descriptions for specific prompts. 

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.  


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 Daniel Hartwig

Sign up for oral history

Additional help

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.

Terms and Conditions 

By submitting your story to Special Collections & 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.