Illinois College Collecting Interviews About COVID-19 For Archives

By Benjamin Cox on April 22, 2020 at 10:26am

Illinois College’s Khalaf Al Habtoor Archives has now opened up the opportunity for citizens to tell their stories directly about COVID-19 pandemic. The project builds upon previous campus and local history projects that Illinois College has previously completed. Public History students are conducting interviews via telephone and video conferencing to capture local residents’ reactions to the pandemic as a document for future usage. Samantha Sauer, lead archivist at Illinois College says the interviews will be archived for future use. “Right now, we’re just working to help document and collect information from this moment in time. We are growing our oral history collection at the college at this time. This project actually builds off of previous students’ projects. Stacy Bile, she’s a senior graduating this year, was our oral history intern in the Summer 2019. Stacy really helped test some of our audio-visual resources, technology, and capabilities in the archive. We were curious about what we could do with our current resources to help collect and preserve the Illinois College community history, but also thinking about ways that Illinois College and the Jacksonville area work together.”

Samantha Sauer, Illinois College Archivist and Curator of the Paul Findley Congressional Museum & the Khalaf Al Habtoor Archive

Sauer says there is a small process that people have to complete before they can provide their interviews. “Before an interview is coordinated between an interested participant and an IC Public History student who will be conducting the interview, we have a couple materials that participants can review about the structure of the conversation. We anticipate each individual 4-5 short questions to generally learn more about their experience during this time. They’ll get an idea about the length of the conversation and the nature of the questions. We’ve got an informed consent form so individuals can learn a little bit more about how they are sharing their experience and how it will add to our archive collection. Then, we also have a release form. Once individuals sign off on the informed consent form and participate in the conversation, then they can release the conversation to our records and add to our collection.”

Sauer says the collection of interviews will be made available alongside other historical documents and items at the college. “They will be added to our digital audio-visual collections at Illinois College in the Khalaf Al Habtoor Archive. As part of this process, interested participants will be able to receive a transcript of their conversation as well as digital copy of the conversation if they’d like.”

The transcripts will also be searchable as an educational resource available publicly through the database JSTOR Forum for other colleges and universities to use around the country.

Interested participants can begin the process by emailing or they can call Sauer with more questions at 217-245-3595.