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COVID Stories: A Campus Oral History Project

A participatory research project between SUNY Oneonta and Utica College.

COVID Stories: A Campus Oral History Project

Looking back at Fall 2020

About the Oral History Project

The aim of the COVID Stories Campus Oral History Project is to record and collect the oral histories of SUNY Oneonta / Utica College students and campus community members, focused on their experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic. The oral histories will be maintained in an archive that is being organized by the Intermountain COVID-19 Impact Consortium (ICIC) at SUNY Oneonta to serve as a resource for research on and a historical document of the local (campus) experiences of the pandemic.

This interview guide provides information for faculty and students who will be participating in this exercise, which may be incorporated as a class assignment. The exercise is designed for SUNY Oneonta / Utica College students to record interviews with each other or with another member of the campus community (such as staff, faculty, other employee) about their recollections of their Fall 2020 experiences.

All of us have our own stories about how the COVID-19 pandemic shaped our daily lives, particularly during 2020. This exercise is an opportunity to listen to each other and reflect on what will most certainly be remembered as one of the most significant moments of our individual lives and collective histories, and to contribute to research and documentation of this time.

With this exercise, students will gain familiarity with oral history as a research method used in a range of fields including history, anthropology, sociology, and communication; and practice in conducting oral history interviews, which entails active listening and elicitation skills required in other forms of interviewing.

Note for Instructors

  1. If you plan to use this exercise in your class and have your students participate in recording and collecting oral histories for this project, you may choose to:

collect the recordings, release forms, and narrator information sheets from your students (for example, using a folder in SharePoint, Dropbox, or Blackboard), and then forward them to the COVID Stories Campus Oral History Project.


have students upload the recordings and information sheets directly to the COVID Stories Oral History Project electronic dropbox. Please provide the names of your students and we will forward their materials to you.

Here is the link for Oneonta:

Here is the link for Utica:


  1. Oral history interviewers often transcribe the conversations, then ask the interviewees to review them, with opportunity to make minor corrections or to add more information that make the narrative clearer. Instructors may opt to make transcribing the recordings and review them a part of their students’ assignments; however, students are not required to do so for this project.

The audio files forwarded to or uploaded directly to the COVID Stories Campus Oral History Project will be transcribed using, a speech-to-text transcription app, and checked for their accuracy, but they will not be further reviewed.


  1. Please review the Step-by-Step Instructions in class with your students.


  1. Questions can be directed to a member of the COVID Stories research team:

Printable Version of this Guide