Public History in the Pandemic:
Misericordia Stories and Life in the Time of COVID-19

MU student teachers

Misericordia University teacher education majors, masked and socially-distanced, pose to celebrate receiving their student teaching assignments, 2020. First row from left, are Alana Boyles, Clarkes Summit, Pa., and Karley May, Delaware Valley, Pa.; second row, Raegan Mahoney, Mechanicsburg, Pa., and Maryjo Dickinson, Dalton, Pa.; and third row, Tristan Cragle, Hunlock Creek, Pa., and Katheryn Gromacki, Middletown, N.Y. Courtesy of MU Marketing dept.

 Make no mistake,

the year 2020 is history in the making

When the year 2020 began, nobody could have predicted what was in store for us. It began like every other year, but by mid-February, we began to hear some disconcerting news: a highly contagious virus was beginning to spread around the world, and that was only the beginning.  The global coronavirus pandemic stopped the world short in its tracks, causing an economic crisis that hit us with statistical echoes of the Great Depression.  By May, a man’s desperate plea to breathe resounded into a million cries for racial equality and justice.  This year will also see a presidential election like no other. We have seen communities come together and be torn apart.

At MU, we will put our minds to making sense of this historical change.  But how will the next generation make sense of it?  And the generations that come after?

Nurses in training

Wilkes-Barre General Hospital School of Nursing. “Post-operative recovery room training,” circa 1955-1965. The Center for Nursing History of Northeastern Pennsylvania collection. Sister Mary Carmel McGarigle University Archives, Misericordia University, Dallas, PA.

This we know: they will want to hear our voices.  They will want to know what we thought, what we worried about, and what made us happy.  They will want to see our art, our snap-shots and selfies, our social media posts, and our poetry.  They will want to know what we thought of the changes happening around us, what made us angry, what made our hearts ache, and how we lifted ourselves up and carried on.


And we want to tell them.

The Sister Mary Carmel McGarigle University Archives at Misericordia University, in cooperation with the History Program and the University Honors Program, invite you to contribute to an archival project documenting the experiences of the Misericordia community during this unprecedented time.

Wondering what you can contribute? Here are some ideas: 

            • Personal stories, journal or diary entries, and essays
            • Signs, drawings, doodles, and artwork
            • Photographs, videos 
            • Interviews
            • Social media posts
            • Digital materials and physical objects 

Contributions can be reflective, autobiographical, documentary, or creative. Contributions don’t have to be just about the coronavirus and its effects; you might discuss the economic crisis brought by the pandemic, such as business closures and job loss. You might reflect upon the social justice issues raised by the swelling Black Lives Matter movement, or consider the implications of the presidential election and political tensions in your community, region, and nation. Contributions on all of these topics, and more, can help paint a picture of what was important to our community during this time. These items will be assembled and kept in the University Archives as a document of life in the historically momentous years 2020 and 2021.

When future generations look back on this time, they will be grateful to have such a clear account of what it was like in our community, and how we handled these difficult situations. Whatever you may choose for your contribution, know that you are helping preserve history as it happens today. 


Want to contribute something, but not sure what could you talk about? 


Have Questions? Visit our FAQ page 


Read the Fine Print 


Make a Contribution 

Prefer to discuss your contribution with our archivist? You can reach out to Maureen Cech directly.  Find her contact info by clicking this link.

This project has been made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities CARES grant, “Humanities in the Time of COVID-19: Fostering Community Dialogue,” Award Number: AH-274885-20.  Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this project do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.