"Collecting for COVID"
Friday, March 26th
We here at JOTPY (our fond name for our international COVID-19 archive) are comprised of more than 300 archivists, faculty, staff, students, teachers, and public history practitioners and organizations. As of March 2021, we have more than 14,000 items in our collection.
Our NCPH panel is a bit unconventional. Instead of a traditional roundtable, we're encouraging you - our generous audience - to review our site and activities at this critical one-year mark.
We encourage you to explore the site widely, but there's a lot of materials to go through. To help focus your attention, we have laid out below some of the most common issues we confront. (These are also often the subject of our own internal debates, so we at least promise you a vibrant conversation.)
We encounter a host of issues relating to ethical considerations, from overt racism and disinformation, to the age of consent and the presence of revealing information. We encourage you to explore the items below for discussion during our NCPH session.
Racism & Disinformation
There are two consent considerations.
1) As interest in teaching with the archive expanded to schools across the country, we received more an more contributions from minors. The legal age of consent for social media, apps, and other platforms (like JOTPY) is 13 years old.
2) JOTPY contains many posts of art and street art. When someone contributes their own art, are they automatically giving consent for reuse privileges? When someone contributes someone else's art (public or private), do we have the right to make their post public?
Some of our other considerations are about detailed information people include in their posts, but specifically their oral histories. Many include their home address. So long as that information is not included in the oral commentary, we can easily obscure the written information. Others include the full names of people close to the informant, but who did not otherwise consent (or are able to consent) to be in the archive. Others still include information about their health, the health of their friends and families, or their employers.
For obvious reasons, we are not including tangible examples of these here, but we encourage your probing questions about our challenges and solutions.
JOTPY can certainly be considered a rapid response archive, but since the pandemic is on-going, collection is beginning to feel less like a sprint and more like a marathon. There are some benefits to long-term rapid response collection, however, including our ability to identify and attempt to fill archival silences. These often revolve around race, class, gender, and geography.
To wit, several instructors, internship supervisors, and teams of students have identified underrepresented groups and issued "calls" to fill those voids. Examples of these include:
- COVID-19 Survivors
- LGBTQ+ Communities
- Mental Health
- Native American & Indigenous Communities
- Rural Stories
- Social Justice
We'd love to know what you think about this strategy and where else we might have room to expand.