Archiving a Pandemic

Public health crises are often marked by various kinds of data: red-dotted maps, pie charts, and line graphs. We tabulate the tests administered, the lives saved or lost, the points in the stock market, the beds and ventilators in local ICUs, the shortages of objects, the vital signs of those who fall ill.  The few stories that become woven into history are often sensational, racist, and/or center the voices of those with the most resources and access to platforms.

It’s not just the lives of government officials or celebrities that have been drastically altered in the past few weeks – it’s everyone. It’s teachers, parents, queer and trans youth, students, delivery drivers, service workers, elders, and grocery clerks.  Documenting and preserving these experiences provides an important historical record of how our lives have changed, and are continuing to change, during an unprecedented global pandemic.

For inspiration, consider how the following have shifted: your relationship to work / your relationship to technology / your concept of home / your idea of personal space / how you practice intimacy / what you make public or keep private / how you celebrate milestones / your perceptions of scarcity and wealth / your relationship to time and commitments

Anyone with ties to San Jose can participate.

Email all submissions, along with a short bio (or bios, for collaborative work), to


We accept written submissions of 3,000 words or less. This may include short nonfiction articles, poems, hybrid works, interview transcripts, stories, collaborations, and more. We pay a small honorarium of $40 for every accepted submission.  Written submissions may include images or sound files when applicable.


You can submit a set of up to 5 images for consideration. All image submissions should be .jpg, .jpeg, or .gif formats. 

Include with your submission:

  • Title of each image
  • The photographer’s name
  • Date each photo was taken (day, month, year if you know all 3)
  • General location
  • An image description

OF NOTE: We aim to avoid creating a surveillance database. Because facial recognition technology can access and use public images, we will blur out the faces of photographic subjects who are still living. We will not blur out the faces of those who are now deceased, or those in photographs that are over 30 years old.


You can submit up to three minutes of sound. Submissions can be music, conversations, ambient noise, descriptions of events or places, short oral histories, etc.  All sound submissions should be on .mp3 or .wav files. 

Include with your submission:

  • Title of recording
  • Name(s) of the person(s) who captured the recording
  • Date of the recording (day, month, year if you know all three)
  • General location
  • Any context you wish to provide for listeners

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