A Journal of the Plague Year in Melbourne (2020)

The Melbourne History Workshop in the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies at the University of Melbourne has launched the Melbourne node of “A Journal of the Plague Year: An Archive of Covid19”, in collaboration with our friends at Arizona State University, who initiated the project on 13 March 2020.

Make a contribution to “Journal of the Plague Year”

We encourage you to document how COVID-19 has affected your lives. Share your story in text, images, video, tweets, texts, Facebook posts, Instagram or Snapchat memes, and screenshots of the news and emails—anything that speaks to paradoxes of the moment.

The project is a way of helping our community to understand the extraordinary as well as the ordinary aspects of this pandemic. In the future, historians will be also able to use this record of daily life to better understand the changing nature of our lives.

In an effort to help minimize the spread of the virus, universities and some schools have transitioned to digital or online teaching and learning. Building a crowdsourced digital archive of the virus, and its impact on everyday life, offers a ready-made opportunity for students to engage what it means to be a historian. How do we build an inclusive digital archive of the virus? Related questions abound regarding the items that we collect. How do we show the subtle ways life has changed, as well as the ways it has not?

In 2009 we commented on the arrival of Human Swine Flu in Melbourne and reflected on the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1919. Now it’s time to build our archive of the current crisis.

Human Swine Flu in Melbourne

The site title was inspired by Daniel Defoe’s novel of that name. First published in March 1722, A Journal of the Plague Year tells story of one man’s experiences of the year 1665, when bubonic plague shook London.

We particularly acknowledge the collaborative willingness of Professor Mark Tebeau (Arizona State University), and the endorsement of the History Council of Victoria.

Access further articles and interviews on the project

Audra D. S. Burch, ‘What historians will see when they look back on the Covid-19 pandemic of 2020’, New York Times, 15 April 2020.

Claudia Hooper, ‘Journal of the Plague Year’, Pursuit, 21 April 2020.

Patricia Karvelis, ‘A Covid 19 time-capsule for people of the future’, ABC Radio National, The Drawing Room, 30 April 2020.

Jon Marcus, ‘Pandemic archive records “life in the middle of history” for future scholars’, Times Higher Education, 26 July 2020.

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