March 2020 through May 2023 was an unprecedented time in World history. Not since the 1918-1920 Influenza Pandemic has the world experienced a global health crisis on such a scale. Life was completely upended due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Schools, businesses, and public spaces began to close citing health risks due to the rapid spread of a new, potentially deadly respiratory virus. Suddenly people were buying their groceries, working, and attending school all online.
We lived during a historic event that has changed us in surprising ways. In my history classes at SRC, I wondered how I should help my students to grapple with what was happening in the World. An online search brought up a website from the California Historical Society (CHS) which asked the public to submit their pandemic experiences. Inspired by the CHS, the idea of the SRC Pandemic Experience Project began in 2020 as a history assignment on the value of primary source documents. Students wrote narrative essays explaining their pandemic experience up to that point in time and interviewed another person about their experience. The stories ranged from heartbreaking to ah-ha moments, to outright laugh-out-loud.
To reach more students at DVC and to create a body of COVID-19 Pandemic primary sources, I consulted with History professor Bridgitte Schaffer, SRC Librarian Amanda Choi, and CIS professor Mario Tejada, to create the SRC Pandemic Experience Project. Over a two-year period, DVC students submitted over 100 written, oral, and visual records of their pandemic experience. We are now in the process of collecting these sources into a book and making them available in this library guide.
This project was invaluable for several reasons. It allowed students to analyze their own pandemic experiences in real-time. It provided an opportunity for student workers to organize, edit, and arrange the project contents. And the SRC Pandemic Project created and preserves a comprehensive body of knowledge in primary sources for future students, researchers, and historians alike.