COVID-19 Diary Project
In the spring of 2020, the Twilight COVID-19 Diary Project enlisted a diverse group of students to document their day-to-day lives. The first group of diarists are documenting their lives now.
The COVID-19 Diary Project by the Numbers
When the project began, we budgeted for 20 participants. Within 24 hours, we received 91 applications.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q Writer’s block! How do I start my diary?
First, remember there’s no word count, spelling, or grammar requirement. Start with a retrospective entry that captures the past weeks. Middlebury College sent students home the weekend of March 15 (that was over a month ago!). What was that like? What has happened since then? Where are you? How has the epidemic affected your friends and family? What is going on in your town or city? Your state? Your country? How do you feel about it?
Q Do I have to write every day?
Only if you want to. Ideally, adding to the diary every day (even jotting a few lines several times a day) would be great. But life can get in the way, we know. It’s easy to forget what happened in the morning if you wait to write at night! Don’t be strict about keeping a regular routine and don’t create additional stress for yourself.
If you use the Day One app, you might find yourself addicted to diary-keeping.
Q Does this project have an end date? When do I stop writing?
We will pay you to keep your diary through June 30, 2020. We will consider any additional entries that you may wish to make a donation to the project.
Q Is this like a normal diary? Can I write about my feelings?
Yes, this is like a normal diary. You should record your daily experiences as well as your reactions to them. Yes, your diary is a historical document, but what is history if not the lived experiences of real people? Your feelings count.
Q What else should I write?
Here are some ideas if you are feeling stuck:
Start with the date!
What did you do today?
Who did you talk to?
How has your life changed?
How is remote schooling going for you?
How have your future plans changed?
Q Do I have to write in English?
For this project, we require that you write primarily in English. But we know many of you are fluent in other languages. If you need to turn to another language to express yourself, we don’t want to stop you. But we do ask that you provide us with an English translation for future generations!
Q I’m keeping a handwritten diary. Can I include poetry, drawings, clippings, and photographs?
Yes! If you would like to include other materials (like a photo or newspaper clippings), we ask that you either insert them between the pages or paste them in using a glue stick. No tape, please! If you add a photograph, think about adding a caption.
Q Who will read my diary?
Like the official archive of the Middlebury Memes for Crunchy Teens Facebook Group, your Twilight Diary will be restricted for five years. (Read this Middlebury Campus article to learn more: “Middlebury Memes Page Partners with Archives.”) After that, Middlebury’s Special Collections and Archives will provide access based on archival standards and codes of ethics to future students, historians, policy makers, scientists. This pandemic is permeating our lives, and we hope your diary will provide valuable insight.
Q I’m keeping a digital diary. Can I include audio, video, and photographs?
Yes! The Day One app makes this really easy. Go crazy. If you are using Microsoft Word or Google Docs, please limit other media to photographs or screenshots pasted into your diary. Try to stay away from embedding or linking content from other sites. We can save your document, but we can’t easily preserve Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, Soundcloud, or Facebook. Pasting in screenshots is OK though! If you have more questions about this, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q Is there anything I shouldn’t include in my diary?
Because the COVID-19 pandemic is a public health crisis, your diary could include sensitive health information. You should only share personal health information if you are comfortable with it being preserved in our Archives.
Q When (and how) do I get paid?
You will receive $200 after Special Collections receives your diary, after July 1, 2020. We’re working out the details, but we will likely use Venmo or an e-gift card.
Q How will I send the journal back to you?
If you are using the Day One app or a digital journal, we’ll be in touch with the best ways for you to deliver your diary.
If you have a handwritten journal and plan to return to campus in fall 2020, we’ll provide a drop-off location in the library in the fall.
If you have a handwritten journal and don’t plan to return to campus or want your payment sooner, you can mail it to us. Tell the post office you want to send by media mail (the cheapest way to mail books, typically $2 to $3).
We’ll send a mailing address by email.
Questions? Write to us at email@example.com.