BE PART OF HISTORY: A project to archive people’s experiences of COVID19 era seeks submissions

13 April 2020
By Mary Bermingman
mary@TheCork.ie

Cork Folklore Project’s initiative to chronicle life during the pandemic

If you have ever looked at old media you will realise the value of capturing the mood of a time, so that future generations can enjoy it. A great example is this 1982 episode of the Late Late Show (the world’s second longest-running late-night talk show, after the US based The Tonight Show – which currently stars Jimmy Fallon.)

Now that we are in April 2020 we can ask an important question: What will happen to the record of ordinary people’s experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic, when the social media posts are gone? The Cork Folklore Project, a community-based oral history group affiliated with UCC, is inviting people in Cork and beyond to become part of their documentation of life right now, by adding their voice to the Project’s ‘Chronicles of COVID-19’ archival collection project.

The Cork Folklore Project, which has been based on the northside of the city for almost twenty-five years, is uniquely placed to capture a sense of life now, in order for future generations to be able to understand what the COVID-19 pandemic experience was like.

Dr. Cliona O’Carroll, Research Director with the Cork Folklore Project explained…

‘Life is changing rapidly due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our experiences are important to document for the future. Social media posts don’t last forever, newspapers are focussed on certain aspects of the crisis, but where will the experiences of ordinary people be documented as a long-term record of life in these times? There is no question that in the decades to come, some people will lament the failure to capture a sense of what life was like in the Spring of 2020. We feel that by acting now, we will preserve testimonies that will grow in value over time.’

Other central benefits of the project can be immediate, as one questionnaire respondent commented after filling it out:
‘It was actually a great experience. So important to put some shape on our experiences. Thanks so much.’

Adults of all ages are welcome to contribute, and we encourage families to include the views and comments of their younger and their older members. The project is interested in accounts of how everyday life is changing, stories, observations, and the unusual and ‘new normal’ of the crisis. Anyone interested can fill out some or all of the Project’s ‘Chronicles of COVID-19’ questionnaire, which invites you to describe aspects of your life right now, by clicking on the ‘CFP COVID-19 Collection’ tab on our website corkfolklore.org. The first phase closes on Monday 20 April, with follow-up phases planned. The questionnaire takes approximately fifteen minutes to complete, depending on how much information you would like to record.

The Cork Folklore Project also welcome photos and/or written or audio accounts, through their project specific email at covid19chronicles@corkfolklore.org through which depositions can be arranged.

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