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Introduction

We are living in a world historical moment.  It is no exaggeration to say that the COVID-19 pandemic will be seen by future generations of historians as a turning point in national and global history.  Already, historians and journalists are comparing the COVID-19 pandemic’s immediate impact and potential long-term effects to those of transformative events like World War II, the Great Depression, and the Civil War.  Many of us are watching—nervously, angrily, or hopefully—televised speeches by our political leaders, reading harrowing firsthand accounts from doctors and nurses, or scrolling through social media feeds to learn how our friends, family, and various other connections are being impacted.  As we do, we might consider that historians and their students 10, 50, and 100 years from now will do the same as they attempt to make sense of this moment.

This historical perspective on the COVID-19 pandemic will be simultaneously global, national, and local.  Historians of disease and medicine will sort through the data, policy papers, and communications of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC).  Political historians will scrutinize presidential briefings and dig into debates in Congress, while those who study the history of social relations will pour through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram posts, undoubtedly also making use of a growing body of photographs of deserted streets and socially distanced communities.  But how will local stories be preserved?  In particular, what will future generations of students, faculty, and administrators have to learn how their predecessors at Springfield College experienced this time?

- Ian Delahanty, Assistant Professor of History

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