Triad COVID-19 collection

Contributed by Jessica Dame

As part of its ongoing work to document the history of University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG), Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) has been archiving campus web content using Archive-It since 2015. Following UNCG’s early announcements and response regarding the monitoring of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) in March 2020, the University Archives began archiving the University’s COVID-19 related web content.

Shortly thereafter, Archive-It, a web archiving service for collecting and accessing cultural heritage on the web, presented the COVID-19 Web Archiving Special Campaign. This campaign was an opportunity for subscribers to expand their web archiving data in 2020 to archive institutional and community COVID-19 related web content.

Upon receiving the Archive-It data expansion, the Triad COVID-19 Collection was created. The Triad COVID-19 Collection aims to capture how the Triad community is using and experiencing the web during the global pandemic. The scope of the collection includes websites, web pages, born-digital documents, and videos created by county government, regional hospitals, K-12 schools, universities, non-profit organizations, community landmarks, and community initiatives. Content captured includes information about the spread of infection, regional containment efforts, modified services and closures, and mask projects.

Due to the urgent nature of the collection, selected web content was immediately evaluated for scope and archived as early as mid-May 2020. Some collection content was archived monthly, while others were archived once for an initial capture (including YouTube videos and born-digital documents). It was not until after selected content was captured that the University Archives began to reach out to site-owners regarding permissions. The University Archives employed an “opt-out” approach, notifying site-owners about the collection and the crawls with the option to not be included.

Currently the Triad COVID-19 Collection includes 150 unique pieces of web content. A highlight from the collection that captures the importance of web archiving is Project Mask WS, which was a mask sewing initiative in Winston-Salem created in response to the pandemic. According to the Project Mask WS website, they are a group of 1000+ volunteers who create masks for medical personnel and front line workers who could not obtain N95 masks. The website features an introduction to the project, images, and examples of their impact, but it expired sometime in mid-July. The group’s online presence is now exclusively on Facebook. While the initiative lives on, without web archiving, the origins of this project would have been lost.

The Triad COVID-19 Collection can be viewed at: https://archive-it.org/collections/14142.

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