Providence Public Library and Rhode Island Historical Society to Launch COVID-19 Digital Archive

The project calls for Rhode Islanders across the state to contribute stories, photos and videos of their experiences during the pandemic.

In response to what is undoubtedly a striking moment in history, the Providence Public Library (PPL) and Rhode Island Historical Society (RIHS) have announced the launch of a digital archive of COVID-19 stories in Rhode Island. These two institutions have joined together “to create a collaborative public archive in response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the press release states. 

The project calls for Rhode Islanders across the state to contribute stories of their experiences during the pandemic, whether in writing, photography, videos, audio or other mediums (the website will accept text, photographs and artwork, sound and video recordings). The goal is to compile a comprehensive, diverse virtual archive of Rhode Islanders’ experiences of social isolation, illness and mutual aid. 

The pandemic, among other things, has forced the world to adjust how we interact as human beings, during a time of social distance and illness. The archive aims to support a unique record of this history. “This project allows us at the RIHS and PPL to do some of the work we treasure most: working with great partners to gather and share the stories of this state,” says Morgan Grefe, RIHS Executive Director. “Every day researchers mine the past to help better understand not only what happened, but also what may happen. This archive is an investment in a better-informed future.” 

As existing disparities among this community rise into stark contrast, as they often do in times of crisis, many wonder how this pandemic will be remembered. Becca Bender, RIHS Film Archivist and Curator of Recorded Media says, “Historical memory is so often constructed from the viewpoint of a select few interpreting the lives of many. By gathering the COVID-19 experience directly from the community, this project seeks to give voice to all Rhode Islanders as we tell this story for ourselves and for those in the future.” 

Visit to contribute.



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