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What are College Archives?

Introduction to our College Archives and how to access them

Distinctive Collections Engagement Librarian

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Jillian Sparks

What is the 2020 Stories Project?

2020 has been a historic time. Future students and researchers will want to know what it was like to be alive right now, and the St. Olaf College Archives is dedicated to creating a robust and representative oral history collection that captures the voices of as many members of the St. Olaf community as possible.

You have the power to control the record that the archives will gather, preserve, and protect about this time in our community's history. Your voice is welcome and safe here.

Recording Instructions

To participate, you can record your oral history by yourself, or ask a family member, roommate, or trusted friend to interview you. You can use a voice recorder app on any smartphone, or the microphone in a laptop computer. We have provided a list of prompts that ask about both your general 2020 life experiences and about your experiences specific to St. Olaf. These prompts are just suggestions, though. You can answer one question, or all of them, or none of them! You know your experience better than anyone else, so we welcome you to talk about whatever feels meaningful to you.

  • Start your oral history by stating your name, the date and time, and where you are recording your oral history.
  • Avoid sharing the personal health information of anyone other than yourself. For example, if you decide to talk about your friend who needed to quarantine, simply refer to them as "my friend" instead of using their name.
  • Please only submit .wav or .mp3 (audio) files.
  • You may record and submit up to five files at a time. That way, for example, you could sit down three times and record for 10 minutes if you don't have the time or ability to record for 30 minutes all in one sitting.
  • You may have one interviewer ask you questions if a conversation style is more comfortable than an audio-diary style. We suggest asking a trusted family member or roommate.
  • In the submission form, you will sign a digital oral history release form. For your reference, these are the standard archival terms that you will agree to when contributing to the 2020 Stories Project.

Submit your oral history here.

Things To Consider

Before you begin to record your submission, take a few moments to reflect on how much you are personally willing to share. We recognize that this pandemic isn't over, and that many people are still experiencing trauma and stress from all kinds of issues. While we hope you can share your thoughts and emotions, we also want to prioritize your mental health.

This is an open-ended project. If you don’t have the time/ability to donate an oral history right now, feel free to come back to this project in the future.

Remember, what might seem mundane or unimportant right now is exactly what future historians will want to know. Even if you think your story may be insignificant, irrelevant, or unwanted, it has an important place in this collection, because it is your story and you are a part of this community. 

Project created by Erin Magoon and Shelby Louk