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A woman in a surgical mask in front of a sign reading "Heroes Work Here."
Dr. Susan Morelli, a neonatologist and geneticist at the NICU at Intermountain Utah Valley Hospital in Provo, Utah, photographed on November 5, 2019. Collected as part of Doctoring: The Occupational Folklore of Physicians, Occupational Folklife Project, American Folklife Center (AFC 2019/030). Photograph by Kirsten Hepburn. (

Announcing the COVID-19 American History Project and an Award to Document Stories of COVID-19 Frontline Workers

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 The following is a guest post by Douglas D. Peach, a Folklife Specialist at the American Folklife Center.

The American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress is proud to announce the launch of the COVID-19 American History Project (CAHP). The multiyear initiative will document, archive, and make accessible Americans’ experiences with COVID-19, to strengthen understanding of American life during the COVID-19 pandemic. The project will focus on the collection and preservation of oral histories—a powerful medium for sharing one’s experiences. In its FY23 appropriations bill, Congress directed the Center to develop “an educational and commemorative program that will collect, preserve, and make available to the public an archive of submitted oral stories of those who were impacted by the COVID–19 pandemic, survivors of loved ones who lost their lives to the disease, and frontline healthcare workers who tirelessly worked to eradicate this virus.”

The COVID-19 American History Project has three parts. First, the American Folklife Center is now soliciting applications for an oral history award for researchers to document the experiences of frontline workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The award will provide up to $30,000 to each recipient. Applicants are asked to submit an initial concept paper by June 20 using the link above. Select applicants will be asked to submit full project proposals. Documentation from these projects will be archived at the American Folklife Center. Second, staff at the American Folklife Center have created an online resource guide, highlighting collections of COVID-19 documentation at the Library of Congress and many significant COVID-19 oral history initiatives already underway across the United States. Finally, the American Folklife Center will encourage the public to share stories with StoryCorps—a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and sharing humanity’s stories—to amplify Americans’ experiences with COVID-19. If you would like to share your COVID-19 experience with StoryCorps, visit this page. All stories recorded with StoryCorps will be preserved at the American Folklife Center and made accessible through the StoryCorps archive. The three parts of the COVID-19 American History Project will make the American Folklife Center a hub for understanding Americans’ experiences during COVID-19 and will empower the American public to preserve their COVID-19 stories at the Library of Congress.

The COVID-19 American History Project continues the American Folklife Center’s legacy of preserving and presenting folklife at key moments in United States history. In 2019, the American Folklife Center became home to the archival collections associated with the AIDS Memorial Quilt—a community memorial for individuals who died of AIDS. In the mid-2010s, Dr. Benjamin Luft donated 328 interviews with 9/11 first responders to the American Folklife Center. Dr. Luft presented this work at a Benjamin A. Botkin Folklife Lecture, in 2011. These collections added to the wealth of  September 11th materials available at the American Folklife Center. In 2009, the American Folklife Center organized a symposium titled Surviving Katrina and Rita in Houston, which complemented a powerful collection of oral history interviews with survivors of the two hurricanes.

For more information on the COVID-19 American History Project, please contact the American Folklife Center at: [email protected].

Comments (7)

  1. Could you provide the link to submit the initial concept paper? It is not clear in the announcement where that link is. Thank you!

  2. I’m willing to participate.

  3. Would like to participate I am a covid survivor of 2020 and longhauler

  4. When it was announced that COVID 19 was airborne it reminded me of 1980s of another pandemic. At the age of 85, stuck in my apartment I wrote AIDS Pandemic The Untold Story. It’s a historical memoir of those who witnessed what that pandemic did, bringing people together to get federal funding to pay for AIDS drugs…$900M and still remains the same amount.

    • Many thanks for reading, and offering a bit of your own experience.

  5. Our family lived on the island of Martha’s Vineyard..thus our experiances were a bit different.
    Our daughter worked as a nurse at the MV Hospital.
    Our oldest son lost his job, as the company folded and he moved out of state, later returning to the island.
    Our youngest son is married and lives in tx with his family….I remember how his wife made and mailed us masks, her parents would drive to their house and stand outside the windows to visit the grand kids,etc.
    My husband managed beach properties on MV and they were the first thing to ‘reopen’ yet in a ‘safe way’.
    We had an impending move, but places weren’t taking donations, etc…would be happy to share my experiances, and am sure the rest of family would as well.
    thanks for doing this!!! carol

    • Thanks for reading, and for considering sharing your story and experiences.

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