The Covid Disability Archive
Updated: Nov 3
NEW AND IMPROVED: Now includes much more helpful detail and FAQs, since some of the Qs have become F
I am starting an archive for art, documents, pictures, videos, emails, text messages, whatever from the disabled, sick and chronically ill population from this pandemic. We have often been overlooked, and I hope that this archive will give future historians a glimpse of what we went through during this time, despite many of us feeling like we're being seen as reasonable collatoral damage.
I am calling for submissions for this archive, of any type.
Don't feel that you have to have put a lot of thought into it, you can send me something now while you remember and also later on when you've had a think.
This is not an exhibition, I won't be making any money out of this, but archiving is the best way we can make sure our mark is made on this situation.
In a few years time, many people will be looking back on this pandemic going "huh, that was weird. Lol."
But many of us will still be living with the effects, whether that is the people we lost, the dismissal and ableism we felt or the economic fallout.
There is no closing date on this, so take your time! History has no end date!
(But please send me some stuff or this will look like a failure)
Email submissions to email@example.com
Email should include all the sort of information that would normally be attached to primary sources (first hand knowledge) in an archive
- A title for the thing (eg: the title of the art piece, "photograph of _", "text from my mum")
- The date of the thing. (This doesn't need to be exact, May 2020, or even "Spring" will be fine.)
- The name of the person submitting. (You can be anonymous in the archive if you'd rather, but I need to know you have the right to submit the sources!)
- An image description for images. (This archive needs to be accessible to all disabled people. I can write image descriptions if needed, but particularly with art, I may not know what I'm looking at!)
- If it contains any confidential/identifying information (eg, mobile numbers, address, the name of someone who isn't the one who has submitted) please blank it out. Again, I can remove myself but I may not always spot it so always best to double check!
*NOTE* This is open to anyone who considers themselves disabled/chronically ill. Therefore, if your disability/chronic illness has developed during the pandemic (for example, long covid or an existing illness which has deteriorated during the pandemic to the level you now consider yourself disabled) you are welcome to submit
Disabled people have been the hardest hit
50% of deaths have been amongst disabled people
Many haven't left their homes since March
Our lives are not considered when reopening society
"Just lock away the vulnerable"
And every day we hear that those we have lost have been justified because they "had pre-existing conditions".
Submissions can be anything, memorials for lost loved ones, art you've created during lockdowns, screenshots of video calls, letters delaying medical treatment, news items and anything else you can think of.
There are no limits on the number of submissions.
Please spam me with submissions.
This will be a great resource for our representation in the future, even if we are being ignored now.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Who are you?
A: I'm Daisy, 27 and I'm a disability history researcher and kind of activist/advocate I guess. I live in Bristol, UK but I'm from Plymouth. Super disabled and chronically ill, I also like arts and crafts, the neighbour's cat and cider.
Q: Why are you doing this? A: Apparently when I feel stressed and overwhelmed I have lots of creative project ideas. It's a problem. Also I'm a historian, and I get very annoyed when I look at archives and there isn't enough information, and I realised that there's very little around to show people what we're going through. We're nearly 9 months into this pandemic and we're still barely mentioned in mainstream coverage of this crisis. How do we expect the future to remember us when the present won't acknowledge we're here? So I figured someone has to do it, we have to force people to remember us, even if it's only 40 years from now.
Q: I don't have anything good enough!
A: Not technically a question I know, but yes you do.
Anything is good enough, because an archive is to showcase the truth, not the best thing. Anything helps tell the story. You can scroll through your phone for 24 seconds and find something good enough. Seriously, you do. Every primary source is useful. As a historian, I would be so happy to find someone's not good enough for the subjects I'm researching.
Q: But I haven't done anything interesting? It's all so mundane.
A: No-one has done anything interesting, we've been inside for 8 months. As people who have ever been to an archive will tell you, they have so much mundane stuff in there. And it's always fascinating and, crucially, so useful. We so desperately need the mundane specifically because they're not the things people think to share.
Q: What kind of things can I submit?
A: Literally anything, and I don't think people are believing me so I'll give some examples.
An article from a website, a blog post, a poem you've been working on, a song you made up, the video of the dance you learned to stave off the boredom, the instagram post from the really bad day, the instagram post from the better day, the reciept from the particularly large Deliveroo order, the mood board from that painting you were working on, the sketchbooks from the painting you were working on, the painting you were working on, the texts the government sent you to tell you to start shielding, the letter from the routine appointment that was cancelled, the photo and story of your family member who died of covid, the playlist you made, the weird marketing email the mobility aid store sent you, the screenshot of your 18th Zoom quiz, the tweet asking for help because you've had an idea for a covid based project, the email chain where you discussed it with your friends, the particularly hilarious T-shirt from that jackbox game, the train of thought document you wrote 10 minutes ago when I asked you to think about how the lockdown has affected you, the screenshot showing how many hours you were video calling your best mate for, the photo of the first time you went back outside again, the really expensive Dadi Freyr jumper you bought with your own face on it when you were drunk, the text from NHS England saying your test result came back, the picture your mum took of her own chin when she was trying to video call you, the transcript of Boris Johnson's press conference when he finally mentioned the clinically vulnerable people after weeks of nothing, the letters page from the local paper where someone argued we should be left to die, the discord server where you were surrounded by people like you, the pillow you screamed into when you found out we were going back into lockdown, the piece of paper covered in the angry scribbles of someone whose government isn't helping, the fort you made in the living room.
Do you believe me yet?