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Call for Applications: Pandemic Program at History Lab

Announcements, Public Humanities

March 8, 2023
Open Ohio Rally

Columbia’s History Lab and MuckRock will host a pandemic program this summer and are assembling a multidisciplinary team to take stock of their COVID-19 archival efforts to date, conduct exploratory research, and help identify priorities for long-term preservation. The full call for applicants follows.

Call for Applications

While the Covid-19 crisis is still unfolding, it has already revealed much about the history of our time and left lessons that will be important to study before the next pandemic. But even before it began, archivists and scholars were struggling to develop new methods to record and analyze history in an age of abundant but perishable data. Resource constraints and fights over access have only intensified because of pressures on archival budgets and the partisan politics that surround any attempt at retrospective analysis. How do we gain a sense of perspective, and preserve information that might otherwise be lost?

Thanks to support from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, Columbia’s History Lab and MuckRock have assembled a database that already includes almost two hundred thousand pages of records related to the government response to Covid-19 obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests. We are also developing state-of-the-art tools for doing digital history, both to analyze large corpora and determine what might be missing.

This summer, History Lab will assemble a multidisciplinary team to take stock of archival efforts to date, conduct exploratory research, and help identify priorities for long-term preservation. We will begin with a two-week workshop (June 5-16) in which participants will meet with historians, journalists, archivists, and public health experts. Over the following months, we will conduct interviews and gather documents, and finally reconvene to report findings Aug.31-Sept. 1. This program will be led by Professors Matthew Connelly, Wilmot James, and Stephen Morse.

Eligibility: We encourage applications from those with substantial research experience who are interested in participating in collaborative work during the summer months, with the goal of producing jointly authored publications.

Financial Support: We can offer a summer stipend of $6,000 to help cover the cost of travel and accommodations during in-person meetings. There is additional funding for research expenses.

How to Apply: Please use this form to provide basic information and upload a CV and an application letter. For the letter, please describe your previous research experience, what motivates you to apply, and what you hope to gain from participating in the program. Feel free to contact us with questions ([email protected]).