Collecting Covid-19

Collecting Covid-19

The Covid-19 pandemic is having an unprecedented impact on all aspects of the lives of people across the globe. In these challenging and historic times, the record keeping community is acutely aware of the importance of capturing and preserving a record of this rapidly evolving situation. From individual diaries of life under lockdown to the records created by public bodies and research institutions, it is important to ensure that we continue to collect a diverse and comprehensive account of events, decisions and experiences.  

The Scottish Council on Archives convenes a Collecting Policy Working Group, with representation from a range of collecting bodies from across Scotland – national collections, local authorities, universities, business and privately held records. The group serves as a forum of exchange to discuss collecting related issues and developments across the sector. At a time when many of us are adapting to social distancing measures, it is important to remain connected and share information, insights and guidance.

Get in Touch

The Collecting Policy Working Group will be maintaining a webpage on the SCA website where information about current Covid-19 collecting initiatives and related guidance and updates can be shared. Please contact us at if you would like to contribute information, contact details, questions or updates related to collecting in Scotland during the pandemic.

Covid-19 Collecting Initiatives – Scotland

Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Archives – further information on how to contribute Covid-19 diaries can be found here, further guidance on depositing diaries can also be found here.

Business Archives Council Scotland – BACS and SCA have worked together to produce guidance on collecting business records in the current crisis. THe document and a recording of a supporting webinar are available here.

Dundee City Archives – further information about Covid-19 collecting in Dundee can be found here.

East Lothian Council Archives, John Gray Centre – the local community can connect via Twitter or contact to find out more about how to contribute to the local record of the pandemic.

Edinburgh City Archives – more information about how residents of Edinburgh can submit diaries can be found here.

Edinburgh Libraries are collecting photographs and memories of this time for the Edinburgh Collected community archive website; community contributions have already been added to the scrapbook, and they are looking for more.  You can find out more here.

Glasgow Caledonian University – GCU are asking staff and students to contribute to the university’s Covid-19 story. More information can be found here.

Glasgow City Archives – residents of Glasgow can find out more about how to submit their accounts of the pandemic here.

Heriot-Watt University are recording challenges and experiences during this time within their collection. They  are looking for contributions to help reflect on what is important and what we think people in the future are going to want to know about this time. Full details can be found here.

Highlife Highland Archive Service –  further information about the Highland call for submissions from the community can be found here.

The National Library of Scotland (NLS) and the Scottish Youth Film Festival launched a five-minute film competition for young people on the concept of ‘home’. A chance for young people to share their experience of the COVID-19 lockdown, the winning entries were screened as part of the Scottish Youth Film Festival and preserved in the National Library of Scotland’s Moving Image Archive to become a part of Scotland’s stories for future generations. Find out more about the competition here.

The National Library of Scotland (NLS) are also collecting web material arising from the response to the pandemic, find out more about the collection here. Please consider nominating a website for the collection here or contact for further information.

The National Library of Scotland and Scottish Book Trust worked together on the See You in 10 Years writing competition. Young Scottish writers submited a two-part piece of writing. The first part was published in a book for Book Week Scotland 2020, and the second half was put in a time capsule to be opened during Book Week Scotland 2030.

The Workers’ Stories Project is creating an online archive of writing, art, film, and photography to document how workers are experiencing the COVID-19 crisis in Scotland, and encourage workers to bring their story to life using any method they think captures what working life is like during this historic moment. The stories collected as part of this project will be archived for future generations at the National Library of Scotland.

National Records of Scotland (NRS) have extended their archiving of public authority websites to reflect the official response to the pandemic, find out more about the collection here.  They are also pursuing an active programme of wider engagement to identify the impact of Covid-19 on public sector record keeping across Scotland.

North Lanarkshire Museums & Heritage service are committed to collecting and preserving a record of this time to provide future generations with an insight into how people and organisations in North Lanarkshire coped with, and were affected by, the pandemic. Updates and more information can be found here.

Our Story Scotland are running a Covid-19 online storytelling project, ‘Queer Distance’. Stories collected online as part of this project will also be archived at the National Library of Scotland.

Perth & Kinross Archives are working with museum colleagues  to record how people and communities across Perth & Kinross are affected by the pandemic so that future generations can understand its impact and learn from the experience.  Details of the collecting project can be found here. The service are also running a survey, available here.

University of Edinburgh Centre for Research Collections – information about the CRC’s Covid-19 collecting can be found here.

University of Stirling Archives and Special Collections – further information about contributing to Covid-19 collecting can be found here.

Scottish Political Archive, University of Stirling are collecting photographs which document the world around us at this important time, and invite people to send in photographs which show the impact of the coronavirus on communities all around Scotland. More information can be found here.

Royal College of Nursing members are at the forefront of the Covid-19 pandemic.  Our Library and Archive Service is actively collecting material that records both the organisation’s and our members’ response to Covid-19.  This UK archive has an active remit to collect country specific experiences, especially where they differ due to policy as well as geographic or cultural nuance. The experience of our nursing members include nurses and healthcare practitioners.  Our collections cover digital as well as physical.  For more information on our collecting please email us –

Royal College of Physicians Edinburgh – further information about how healthcare workers can contribute their accounts can be found here.

Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow is collecting material that records the institution’s response to the pandemic, and the experience of its members (doctors, surgeons and health professionals). For more information on our collecting please email us –

Scottish Jewish Archives Centre: further information on SJAC’s Lockdown project can be found on Twitter.

South Glasgow Heritage & Environment Trust is seeking to build a picture of the resilience of local life as our diverse community adapts locally to the global pandemic – with your input. Details of the project can be found here.

West Dunbartonshire Archives – the local community can connect via Twitter or contact to find out more about how to contribute to the local record of the pandemic.

UK-wide & International

International Council on Archives (ICA) – This is the most recent statement on the duty to document during the Covid-19 pandemic and has been developed by ICA and the International Conference of Information Commissioners, supported by ARMA International, CODATA, Digital Preservation Coalition, Research Data Alliance, UNESCO Memory of the World and World Data System.

You can read the statement here.

Mass Observation Archive – if you would like to sign up to contribute as a writer to the Mass Observation Archives Covid-19 collecting, more information can be found here.

The Mass Observation Archive has also produced helpful guidance notes on submitting material, here.

Oral History Society – advice on remote Oral History interviewing during the Covid-19 pandemic can be found here.

General Queries

Archive services are still responding to remote enquiries and engaging with their communities and users online. Contact details of archive services across Scotland can be found on the SCA Scottish Archives Map.

Guidance and Advice

The National Register of Archives for Scotland (NRAS) supports private owners with advice on all issues relating to the care and preservation of their archives. Guidance on a range of issues, with links to sources of information, can be found on the NRAS website here. If you have specific concerns please e-mail:

Scottish Universities Special Collections and Archives Group (SUSCAG) is a support group for those working in archives and special collections in the higher education sector. There is an email mail list where members can ask questions or exchange experiences and the group meets regularly to discuss issues.

Business Archive Council Scotland and UK Crisis Management Team are particularly concerned with business records at risk, as the economic implications of the crisis take hold. Already familiar names like Flybe, Remnant Kings, and Laura Ashley have been affected. The CMT urge colleagues across the sector – particularly in local authority archives – to keep an eye out for businesses in their area that close or are in danger of closing and let the CMT know by contacting in the first instance . More information can be found here.

Columbia University Oral History of Disasters and Pandemics Workshop

Mary Marshall Clark, director of the Center for Oral History Research at Columbia University, led a workshop on how to plan and conduct oral histories in communities affected by disasters and pandemics. Guidance on how to conduct life history interviews in the contexts of crises and disasters, including how interviewers can shield themselves from an overload of trauma, and how they can construct safe environments for narrators to tell their stories, feature. The goal of this workshop is to provide oral historians with resources that have been proven in the field, and useful in a variety of contexts. Available on YouTube, here.

Covid-19 Collecting Survey and Slack Group

If you are considering contemporary collecting relating to Covid-19 and wish to connect with others, the Wellcome Trust Library invites you to complete this survey.

The intention is to create a publicly accessible directory, which is automatically updated as individuals complete the form. This directory will not be managed or maintained by one individual or institution but will be a shared and collaborative resource to connect individuals to each other. Anyone is invited to take part, including individuals choosing to engage in this subject matter or from other disciplines.

The information gathered will be collated into a spreadsheet and shared freely with others interested in this topic. There is no obligation to share information you do not want to be made openly available – all questions are optional.

For those interested in joining a forum to discuss Covid 19 collecting related issues and activity, please join the Documenting Covid-19 Slack Group here.