Memory project documents life at pandemic’s epicenter
by Sara Krevoy
Apr 26, 2020 | 15093 views | 0 0 comments | 1529 1529 recommendations | email to a friend | print
As New York navigates an unprecedented and disorienting juncture in time, a local community archiving program is creating a time capsule of the moment from the perspective of the county hardest hit by the outbreak of novel coronavirus.

Queens Memory, an ongoing operation supported by the Queens Public Library and the Queens College Library, launched its latest undertaking: the “COVID-19 Project.”

In partnership with tech nonprofit Urban Archive, the borough-wide campaign seeks to collect personal stories that revolve around daily life at the nation’s epicenter of the global pandemic.

Residents are encouraged to share how they are living, working, learning and being neighbors amid the chaos.

“Queens remains the epicenter of the pandemic in New York City, with many residents working on the front lines and providing essential services to community members,” said Natalie Milbrodt, QPL’s coordinator of Metadata Services and founding director of the Queens Memory Project.

“The stories they are sharing with us today will be an invaluable resource to those in the future trying to understand this turbulent time in world history,” she continued.

With the situation changing rapidly from day to day, Queens Memory aims to provide a lasting account that could interpret the reality and state of mind people in the world’s borough are experiencing. 

Participants can make contributions to the “COVID-19 Project” through a variety of mediums, including remote long-form interviews, written submissions on Urban Archive and audio testimony using a toll-free number.

“It’s important to document this period in time for the sake of history,” said Kristin Hart, chief librarian at Queen College’s Benjamin S. Rosenthal Library. “To create a permanent record of life during the pandemic that will benefit researchers for years to come.”

Archivists at Queens College have already recorded interviews with diverse members of the school’s community, each with a unique relationship to the pandemic.

They include the institution’s first Asian-American president-designate Frank Wu; professor of Sociology and leading authority on Orthodox Judaism Samuel Heilman, who was among the first New Yorkers affected by the spread of coronavirus; and lecturer in Italian Nicola Lucchi, who descends from the Lombardy region of Italy, where the virus has had the most severe impact.

Documentation from the “COVID-19 Project” will become part of the Queens Memory digital collections, and will be shared through the Urban Archive platform. Interviews will also be featured on ten episodes of the Queens Memory Podcast.

For more information and to submit stories, visit
Comments-icon Post a Comment
No Comments Yet