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Marquette County’s Response to COVID-19 Being Documented May 19, 2020

Northern Michigan University, Peter White Public Library and the Marquette Regional History Center are collaborating on a project to document Marquette County’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic for future generations. They encourage area residents to submit stories, images and artifacts that represent how the crisis has impacted daily life.

“This is an extremely momentous and pivotal point in history that comes a little more than 100 years after the Spanish influenza pandemic,” said Marcus Robyns, director of the Central U.P. and NMU Archives. “It’s disconcerting and taking people out of their ordinary routines. It’s also a shared experience for the entire community, which is why our three community entities are joining forces to collect both digital and tactile items that will enable us to document this as best we can. We’re used to working collaboratively and it always goes well. Our effort is modeled after the Library of Michigan and other places around the country soliciting donations for material like this.”

Submissions may include diaries/journals, poetry or short stories, music and voice/video recordings. Memorabilia from canceled events such as graduation gowns, play costumes or sports uniforms, as well as medical equipment such as masks that are no longer needed, will also be accepted. Other formats include actual or photographed artwork, crafts and window displays.

“We will save digital material on Preservica, an archival software, cloud-based platform,” said Robyns. “Preservica is encouraging localities to document the pandemic and they’re giving an additional 250 GB of storage space for that specific purpose. That will allow us to curate this collection over decades, keeping it credible and accessible to the public. I’ve started by taking screen shots of threads and dialogue that occur on various social media sites, which typically revolves around people’s support for or opposition to the governor’s stay home orders.”

The collaborative effort has a Facebook page titled “Marquette County Stories of the Pandemic: Share Your Story.” It will soon launch an interactive website hosted by NMU, where residents can upload digital content and complete a related online form for donating material and authorizing its use in a public format. For more information, contact Robyns at mrobyns@nmu.edu or 227-1046.

Robyns said the Central U.P. and NMU Archives has a 1918 diary in which the writer relayed experiences and tales of how her life was disrupted during the Spanish flu epidemic. He said the goal is to develop a more expansive and detailed collection that incorporates numerous Marquette County residents’ perspectives on COVID-19.

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