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University libraries encourages community to “Document Your Story”

Photo by Soham Parikh | Wright State Guardian

Wright State library, document your story | Photo by Soham Parikh | Wright State Guardian


With the struggles people are experiencing today, it may be easy to forget that what is happening will go down in history.

Because of this, The University Libraries Special Collections and Archives has created the Document Your Story project for the Wright State community.

How it came to be

“We are living through a time in history that is not an ordinary occurrence. Special Collections and Archives has always been proactive about collecting stories that tell us what is happening now, in our current lives. We can’t wait to collect this material. People need to write down what is happening now, reflect on how they feel about it and what they are experiencing,” said Dawne Dewey, head of Special Collections and Archives.

During any major event, the library encourages students, faculty, staff and anyone in the community to document this moment in time.

“[Record] everyday experiences; how things are different, the same, how they are communicating with family and friends [and] how they feel about what is happening,” said Dewey.

How you can be involved

Anyone interested in submitting a journal can follow the library’s blog on how to start writing a journal.

Submit by clicking here>>

“We will accept handwritten, typed, social media posts, word documents, photographs, videos [and] audio recordings. We plan to collect as much material as we can from a wide variety of audiences and ages and then place them in the archives. We want stories from students of all ages, faculty, teachers, staff and the wider Miami Valley community,” said Dewey.

The journals will be available for research and used in outreach programs as well as CORE Scholar.

“We wake up each day and live our lives. We probably don’t think so much about the history we are making right now with the coronavirus quarantines. Keeping a diary, blog, journal or other record of one’s activities, thoughts and feelings will help the Archives capture a piece of history,” said University Librarian Sue Polanka.

The takeaway

“People will realize that they are part of history happening right now. All of our stories are important and writing down what we are going through now will help us gain a sense of belonging to the whole. “

“We are all going through the same thing, in different ways and in different situations. We hope that by keeping a journal or diary, people will be able to cope with the situation, it will be therapeutic in some way, and give people a sense of security, knowing that how they feel about what is happening now is going to be of benefit later, for them and others,” said Dewey.

Taking part in this project and sharing a journal during such a time in history will not only help people today feel more connected and united, it will also have a great impact for future generations.

In readings of Dayton papers in 1918 about the Spanish flu, Dewey has found the experiences from the past to be like our current circumstance.

“If, several decades from now, people can learn from the diaries, photographs [or] social media posts of what people went through now, it will help inform how we react when this happens again. It gives us a sense of community and connection to the past, a shared experience that helps define who we are. It can help us shape future policy, attitudes and reactions to national events that affect us locally. Someday, a grandchild is going to ask their grandparent about the pandemic of 2020. The memories and stories we record and collect today will help tell the story,” said Dewey.

Because this is an unknown experience to most people, it’s easy to feel stuck in the now and not look forward.

Taking part in this is a great way to be hopeful and see a light at the end of the tunnel.