Victoria Regional History Center to collect community COVID-19 stories
Crossroads residents have an opportunity to share their COVID-19 pandemic experiences with the community through a new digital collection at the Victoria Regional History Center.
The center is collecting submissions for a project called “Stay Home, Stay Safe Stories,” which will serve as a historical record of the area during the COVID-19 pandemic. The University of Houston-Victoria and Victoria College communities, and residents of the surrounding Victoria area are invited to submit first-person accounts for the collection. The Victoria Regional History Center is a collaboration between UHV and VC that holds institutional records and other material that document the history of UHV, VC and the greater Victoria area.
“The Stay Home Stay Safe project provides a wonderful opportunity for every Victorian to preserve and share their memories of the coronavirus epidemic for future generations,” said Jennifer Stewart, Victoria College librarian.
Brittany Rodriguez, special collections librarian at the Victoria Regional History Center, said the idea came from a webinar that announced other universities were collecting documentation from their communities about life during the pandemic. The collection will be a digital gallery, so all submissions must be made electronically.
“While the Victoria community experienced the flu pandemic 100 years ago, this is the first time for our UHV and VC communities,” Rodriguez said. “Everyone’s lives have been altered in one way or another, such as losing a job, adjusting to working from home or homeschooling children. We want to include as many different experiences as possible.”
People can be as creative as they want with their submissions, Rodriguez said. The center will accept poems, stories, journal- or diary-style entries, photographs, drawings and paintings. People also can submit audio recordings or video recordings.
Submissions will require a name, but participants will have the option to have their documents posted online anonymously. Participants also need to be at least 18 years old. The submissions will be reviewed and then formatted for online publishing. Once there are enough submissions, the center will post the collection for public viewing. There is no deadline for submissions, and documents will continue to be added to the archive once it is live.
Karen Locher, interim director of the UHV library, said having a record of life during the pandemic is important for a more rural community like Victoria to look back on in the future.
“Fifty years or so from now, there will be books written about life in New York City and China during this time, and there won’t be books about Victoria,” Locher said. “Our stories are just as valid, and our rural stories will be a record for people to come back and read about how we were all affected by this disease.”
The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973, offers courses leading to more than 80 academic programs in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as an instructional site in Katy, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.