Logging Lives With Lydia: Oral Histories in the Time of the Pandemic


Hello JFR Blog Readers,


pasted image 0 (2)

Welcome back to another blog about my oral history writing endeavors. I hope you are all finding yourselves productive in your home offices while cuddling your pets and books! Over the course of the shelter-in-place order, I have tried to gain a sense of normalcy and routine, especially as all of my classes transitioned to an online platform and I moved back home after moving out of my campus home. The transition has certainly been a challenging one, but I look forward to sunny days when I can rollerblade around my neighborhood or step out of my home to get some fresh air. I hope you are all also finding creative ways to stay active!

As I lose track of the days I’ve been in quarantine, I wonder how other academic scholars and students, who are also currently working on oral history projects, continue working in these uncertain times. Much of these projects involve human contact or immersion in a community’s environment; these face-to-face interactions impacted my narrative writing in many positive ways, and it has been hard to stay productive on my computer for all of my various classes and projects. By meeting members of the community throughout the project’s timeline, I was able to put a face to the interview transcripts and audio recordings, personalizing the final product–the narratives. This spring semester is my last semester at Lewis which has posed new challenges. Moving away from the Romeoville area certainly shifted many of my academic and professional pursuits in various ways. Specifically, the Lewis English Studies Department and all of my professors constantly supported my writing endeavors, and I truly miss the learning community and everyone’s constant support. In a previous blog, I noted the significance of online platforms such as Dropbox and Google Docs have had on the Second Baptist Project, which continues to ring true especially in this e-learning phase. 

This leads me to another question I started wondering about: whether other communities are beginning oral history projects surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. Interestingly enough, I found that the St. Joseph Public Library in St. Joseph, Missouri has, in fact, begun an oral history project recently. They are asking people to share their stories about how the pandemic has impacted their lives or to reflect on what the quarantine experience has been like for them personally. Other suggestions the library staff offers for topics to speak about includes: 

  • When did you hear about COVID-19 (coronavirus) for the first time?
  • How did your overall daily life change?
  • How did you maintain connections with people in your life?
  • How did work change for you?
  • Did you ever think you would experience something that would impact society on a global scale, the way COVID-19 has?
  • What would you want someone 100 years from now to know about this pandemic? What thoughts and advice might you have for them? (St. Joseph Public Library) 

I believe the collection of diverse thoughts and experiences during the pandemic is definitely important to record. If you are looking for something to do at this time and would be open to sharing your experience, here is just one idea you can consider taking part in. It’s certainly a project I’m thinking about contributing to myself! There is also an option to remain anonymous if you choose to participate.  

For more information or suggestions for what you could speak about, see this link: https://sjpl.lib.mo.us/oral-history-project/pandemicstories/

— Lydia Kozlowski, Blogger

Lydia Kozlowski’s Bio:

Lydia K

Lydia is a senior at Lewis University majoring in English with a concentration in Language and Literature, and minoring in Professional Writing. She enjoys reading short stories, dabbling with design, and writing consistently in her personal journals. Lydia also enjoys reading memoirs and watching documentaries. Along with being an editor for Jet Fuel Review, she is a Publicity Coordinator for Sigma Tau Delta Rho Lambda Chapter and a tutor and ESL/ELL Specialist at Lewis University’s Writing Center. Outside of her educational endeavors and commitments, Lydia stays active by running on nature trails and rollerblading around campus.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s