This list of Frequently Asked Questions is under construction. Please check back for more information.

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Where will the submissions live?

Ultimately, the items you contribute will be held by the Carleton College Archives, the Rice County Historical Society Archives, the Northfield-Rice County Digital History Collection, and/or the Journal of the Plague Year, run out of Arizona State University. If you opt to keep your contribution private, it will not be shared with the Journal of the Plague Year.

What should I submit for a website, webpage, or link?

Websites are important sources but can be tricky to archive since they are dynamic and can change (and disappear) very quickly. If you are submitting a link to a page, we recommend that in addition to the link itself, you submit either an image or pdf of that webpage. You can also save the page in its current state on the Internet Archive, also known as the Wayback Machine. Once you save the page, you can submit the link to the archived version of it that lives on the Wayback Machine, which will maintain its current state. For example, this will link you to this page in its earliest days.

Submissions, Accounts, and Privacy

On the submission form, there is a box that says “Keep my identity private.” What does this mean?

If you check this box, the archive will remove information that connects your submission to your Omeka account information. Even if you check this option, site administrators will still be able to view your account, your account information, and the items you have submitted. It is also important to note that this option only applies to your Omeka account information – this option is not for suppressing your identity as the contributor. If you entered your name in the creator or contributor field, checking this box will not impact that, and if the item becomes public your will still be visible.

On the submission form, there is a box to check to make items public. What does this mean and what happens if I don’t check it?

This option determines whether your item can be made publicly available on this Omeka site. Unchecking this option means your contribution can never be published on this site – the administrators cannot override this. However, even if you check this option, your contribution will ultimately go into the Carleton College Archives, the Rice County Historical Society Archives, and/or the Northfield-Rice County Digital History Collection If you don’t want your submission to be held by any of these archives, do not submit it through this site.

For some items on the contribution form, there is a field on restricting materials. What does this mean?

We are offering the option to restrict access to journals, diaries, oral histories, and scrapbooks that are submitted. If you choose this option, your materials will not be available to researchers or the public for up to 50 years (depending on the length of time you specify). Please note that archive staff will still be able to access your materials.

Do I need to make an account to submit items?

The short answer is yes, but you automatically create an account with us once you submit the form (which requires you to provide a valid email address). If you’d like to create a password for your account to log in at a later date, follow the link after the submission page to update your account with a password. Note that you do not need to create a password to submit other items – you will just provide your email again. By making a password for your account, the email field will be automatically filled in.

Why do I need to enter an email when I submit items?

In addition to protecting the site against spam and bots, requiring an email allows us to follow up with people who submit the form indicating their intent to submit a journal or other materials later.

Are all my contributions secure?

Yes. We keep this site up to date to ensure its security and keep everything protected. However, you should be aware that anything online is never 100% safe. We will do everything we can to protect your private contributions and account information, but there is always a possibility that this information could be compromised, as with anything online.


Can I submit something my friend wrote/made/created?

If you have your friend’s permission, of course! Without their permission, you should refrain from submitting it, unless it’s already publicly available online.

There are people in the photo/video I want to submit. Is that okay? Do I need their permission?

In general, it always best to have someone’s permission sharing images they are in. In the United States, however, you technically do not need someone to consent to photograph them if they are in public and you are not violating what would be considered a reasonable expectation of privacy (i.e. it would be allowed if you are taking a photo of people standing in a grocery aisle). Photography that takes place in a private space, such as a home, does require permission. In addition, keep in mind that minors and vulnerable adults are not able to legally consent to having their photograph taken. However, we are not lawyers (we’re mostly historians). If you are unsure if you should be taking or sharing a photograph or other item, we encourage you to listen to that voice, reconsider, and perhaps do more research. In general, be courteous and respectful of privacy when photographing.

Furthermore, these guidelines apply to materials beyond photographs. Please be mindful of the personal information present in what you are sharing – including emails, phone numbers, and personal information. Oral histories should only be conducted and submitted with the consent of the participants. If your journal or diary contains personal details about yourself or others, we encourage you to consider restricting access to the item.

Journals, Diaries, and Scrapbooks

How do I submit a physical diary or scrapbook?

If you are interested in submitting a physical diary or scrapbook, please fill out our contribution form, which will ask for your email. When it comes time to begin collecting physical items, we will contact you via email to arrange submission.

What if I’m embarrassed by what I’ve written in my diary?

Don’t be! We want you to be honest in your diary about your thoughts and feelings during this turbulent time. And don’t be concerned about grammar, spelling, or making your writing polished. Historians are more interested in the contents of your experience. And finally, when you submit your diary you can choose to embargo it for up to 50 years. This means that you can seal the document from researchers or other readers for up to 50 years, at which time it will become available to access.

Where can I learn more about conducting oral histories?

Professor Serena Zabin has created a helpful resource for conducting oral histories.

What should I be writing about in my journal?

Feel free to write whatever you want in your journal, including your daily routine, thoughts on the pandemic, experiences shaped by the pandemic, and more! For more ideas, please see Professor Serena Zabin's .


I submitted something I didn’t mean to, or I think I made a mistake while entering the information into the contribution form. What should I do?

Contact us! Please use our contact form to let us know what the issue is. We don’t want to be collecting anything without your permission, so if you submitted something you didn’t want to, we can work to take it out of the archive. When contacting us, please include your name and other identifying details about the item. We will get back to you as soon as we can, but please be patient if it takes a few days.

What is Omeka?

Omeka is a web publishing platform designed specifically for digital collections and online exhibits. Its internal structure consists of items, each belonging to one collection, which can then be used in multiple exhibits. It is intentionally structured to mimic the physical collections of archives, museums, libraries, and similar institutions, allowing them to share their materials online. Omeka is also open-source, allowing anyone to contribute and improve the platform. To learn more about Omeka, visit omeka.org.

What are metadata?

Metadata are information about something. Merriam-Webster defines metadata as “data that provides information about other data.” On this site, we frequently refer to items or materials having metadata. To provide an example, let’s consider a book as our item (or material or data). The information about the book is the metadata – author, title, date, publisher, length. The actual text of the book is not – that is the data.

Dublin Core is a commonly used standard of metadata, and is what is used in Omeka by default. For more information on Dublin Core, see their website.

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19, also known as coronavirus, is a respiratory virus first identified late 2019 in China. For more information, please visit the World Health Organization website, the United States Centers for Disease Control website, or your local health department website.

I have a question that isn’t answered here. What should I do?

Contact us! Please use our contact form to get in touch with us. We will be happy to answer your question, and might add it to the FAQ – if you had that question, odds are someone else does, too!