The Dr. Jo Ann Rayfield Archives are officially accepting submissions for coronavirus-related history, taking steps to document COVID-19’s effect on daily life for Illinois State University students and the surrounding community.
These archives, a program run to document the history of ISU and campus life, seek to preserve historical documents related to the university, including but not limited to photographs, letters and journal entries. In the wake of the pandemic, the Rayfield Archives have opened a secure online form for students to submit online documents, for those who want to contribute.
The history of ISU these archives hold is often utilized for historical research, for famous past events. Due to limited staffing, in-person meetings are by appointment only, but they do have a collection of online archives, such as past ISU yearbooks and an archive of past Videttes.
The decision to open the archive up for the history of COVID-19 in the Bloomington-Normal area can be traced back to the 1918 flu pandemic. For this stretch of time, the university only has previous editions of the Vidette to look back on in speaking to the experiences of Illinois State students.
“When our future researchers ask for resources on COVID-19 pandemic, the Rayfield Archives will hopefully be able to provide first-hand accounts of Redbird resilience,” said April Anderson-Zorn, a university archivist. “Through digital diaries, podcasts and, of course, social media, we can document how we coped and adapted to a life-altering situation that isn’t just playing out in our community but on the world stage.”