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University of Michigan’s Bentley Historical Library wants your help documenting COVID-19 pandemic

A deserted State Street along University of Michigan's Athletic Campus on March 24, 2020.
A deserted State Street along University of Michigan's Athletic Campus on March 24, 2020. (Meredith Bruckner)

ANN ARBOR – The University of Michigan’s Bentley Historical Library is turning to the university community for submissions to help document the coronavirus crisis.

Materials include photos from virtual commencement, tributes to essential workers, audio interviews, course assignments, social distancing signage, screenshots of Zoom meetings and more.

Bentley is known for its extensive archive collections that chronicle the history of U-M and the state of Michigan.

“Our goal is to document the personal experiences of the university community during the coronavirus outbreak,” project archivist Caitlin Moriarty, who is leading the initiative on behalf of the Bentley’s University Archives, said in a statement.

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“When future students, scholars and researchers want to understand what it was like on campus during the pandemic, the materials preserved by the Bentley will provide a multidimensional first-person account.”

How to submit

U-M staff, faculty and students can fill out a submission form using their UMICH account. Up to 10 files can be submitted at a time. To learn about alternative submission methods, contact bentleycv19@umich.edu.

All donors will be asked to sign an agreement allowing the Bentley to preserve their submitted materials. Staff leading the ongoing project will also send information about use of submitted content and copyright to donors.

The following digital formats will be accepted: photos (jpg, png), videos (mp4, mov), audio (mp3) and text (txt, pdf, docx, doc) files.

Physical materials like handwritten or printed items must first be submitted via digital photo. Bentley staff will alert prospective donors when and how physical materials will be able to be collected.

Any work that was created in coordination with others must be submitted by all co-authors via the Google form. This includes fellow classmates, students, friends of family members.

The project will run throughout the pandemic and will be made available to the public after Bentley staff have reviewed and processed all submitted material.

According to Bentley’s website, submissions can include:


  • Redesigned course materials for remote delivery, new assignments or syllabus changes
  • Communication with students and colleagues
  • Plans for pausing or adapting research projects while campus is closed


  • Work completed on-campus as an essential employee
  • Documentation of experiences in student services as dining halls, dormitories or other services that were closed
  • Messages of encouragement from co-workers and the community
  • Changes to your job due to working remotely


  • Course assignments completed related to the pandemic
  • Photos or videos of moving off-campus or staying in Ann Arbor
  • Communications with family about what was happening as campus was closed
  • Communications with administrators or faculty members negotiating issues related to travel, internships, visa status, living arrangements, food and dining
  • Student organization activities that may continue over a distance
  • Reactions to campus events being canceled or delayed (e.g., graduation, spring sports season, theater or musical performances, trips)
  • Remote learning experiences or documentation of how classes changed when they went virtual


  • Journal or diary entries about the impact of the pandemic
  • Interviews with friends or family members
  • A description of schedules or routines during quarantine/shelter-in-place
  • Your experience as a health care worker
  • Photos of new work spaces
  • Documentation of what it is like to work at an essential business or organization

To learn more about the Bentley Historical Library, visit www.bentley.umich.edu.

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