If you are a member of the School of Medicine, School of Nursing, or Duke Health communities, the Medical Center Archives and Library are collecting your stories.

Please visit their collecting project website for more information.

About submission content

What should I write about or document? What should I submit?

We want to hear about whatever aspect of your experience you wish to share. This could range from what it feels like to do time-sensitive research related to the virus, or what it feels like to care for a sick loved one. It could be about what it is like to continue working in the hospital, or what is like to no longer have a reliable job. It could be what it’s like to move home in the middle of the semester, or what it feels like to not be able to go home and have to stay on campus. It could be about the challenges of childcare or the challenges in procuring groceries. As long as it’s your story, we want to hear about it. Your story may be a series of journal entries, an essay about your experience, a collection of photographs, or a recording of your voice. Stories may also be in languages other than English. The University Archives has also created a list of optional story prompts that you may wish to use.

Why should I submit something to the University Archives?

The University Archives documents the history of Duke University. By submitting your story, you contribute to the documentation of the Duke community’s experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic and ensure that multiple voices are heard. Submissions to the University Archives will be preserved for perpetuity, and available for researchers to use. Students, faculty, and others will be able to understand what the experience of COVID-19 was like for you, and for others in your community.

Similar efforts are taking place at the Duke Medical Center Archives and at archives, museums, and libraries across the country, which will make your story part of a rich and multi-voiced historical resource on our present moment.

Are there certain things I should not include? 

We cannot accept anything that would fall under the HIPAA policies for health records, such as doctor's notes, patient charts, or insurance records. Part of the submission process will ask you to attest that such content is not present in your work. However, you are welcome to write about your own experience as a patient.

As you create your story materials, be mindful that submissions will be available for research, and, in some cases, made available online. Please don’t include any information—including identifying details about yourself or your friends and family—that you don’t want to share publicly. 

Can my story materials be submitted anonymously?

Yes, in all public description there will be the option to remove your name entirely or to use just a first name. The University Archives will collect first and last names as well as email addresses for our records, but these will not be shared with anyone except the archivists working on the project. 

Please note that University Archives will not edit or redact your submission, so if you wish to be anonymous, make sure that your submission does not indicate your identity.

Can I submit something that isn’t digital, like a handwritten diary or printed photographs?

Absolutely! That said, we want to make sure the University Archives is able to accept and care for your materials, so let’s chat about the materials you have to donate. Start the conversation by contacting us. We can also decide on the best way for you to get your materials to us, which might mean mailing them to us or dropping them by the Rubenstein Library reading room once we reopen, if you live locally.

Please note that these materials would be made available for research in the Rubenstein Library’s reading room. We may be able to digitize them and add them to our Digital Collections, but cannot guarantee it.

Can I submit something I didn’t create?

No, we cannot accept materials created by someone else—you must be the creator of what you submit. This means, for example, that faculty cannot submit student experiences. However, if students elect to submit their experiences voluntarily (and are not required to do so as part of their coursework), we welcome those students to submit their own work.

About the submission process

How will the submission process work?

When you are ready to submit, you will fill out a form with your contact information and how you wish to make your submission available. Through this form, you will give University Archives the non-exclusive right to make your material available for research. You will be asked to briefly describe your submission, including a title, if you have one. At the bottom of the form, you will be able to attach your submission (multiple files and/or formats are OK). If you have a submission that is too large to be deposited through the form, or is in a format that isn’t digital, we will contact you about alternate ways of submitting your work.

What are the options for restricting access to my submission?

For digital submissions, you have the following choices:

  • Make your work openly available on the web.
  • Make your work available for research or teaching onsite in the Rubenstein Library (using a designated secure computer) for five years, then make it openly available on the web.
  • Make your work available for research or teaching onsite only in the Rubenstein Library for twenty-five years, then making it openly available on the web.

In all of the above cases, you also have the option to put a five year “embargo” on your submission. This means that the submission would be described in our collection guide, but unavailable for research until the five year period is up.

For non-digital submissions, materials will be available only in the Reading Room. You also have the option of the five year embargo as described above.

How will these be made available?

Unless you have an embargo, the submissions will be made available for research or teaching on-site in the Rubenstein Library. If your project is digital and you give permission, we can also make your submission publicly available through the Duke University Library digital collections.

If I submit anonymously, how do you keep my identity private?

We will store your name in our secure internal files. Your submission will appear as “anonymous” in all public description, and will not be revealed to any researchers.

Can I submit more than once?

Yes, you can submit materials as many times as you’d like, although we recommend submitting no more frequently than once a month. Note that we can’t replace older submissions with updated versions.

Other FAQs

Do I still have copyright on my work? Can I use the content elsewhere?

Yes! By submitting your work, it simply grants us the right to keep a copy of your work. You retain the copyright and can use your submission for other purposes (course assignments, publications, etc.).

I already shared my story somewhere else. Can I still submit to the University Archives?

Yes, you can! To help future researchers connect the parts of your story, you may want to include notes referring to places your story has already appeared.

What if I change my mind after I’ve submitted something?

You may opt to limit or restrict access, or remove your name from the submission, but we will not remove submissions except in cases where the submission contains a violation of HIPAA laws or other legal policies.

Your story materials should also be in their final form when you submit them. We’re unable to replace older submissions with updated versions. We recommend you submit materials only when you feel ready; we’ll be accepting story submissions on an ongoing basis, so there is not a rush. If you do submit your story materials and then find that an addition is needed, please submit the addition as a new file.