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APHNYS Launches Groundbreaking New COVID-19 Documentation Project

Monday, May 25, 2020 11:48 AM | Christine Ridarsky (Administrator)

Today APHNYS launched a groundbreaking new crowdsourced COVID-19 documentation project for you to use and to share to capture stories about the pandemic and its effects in your community.

The APHNYS Witness to History PixStori project allows anyone anywhere to participate by sharing images and stories about their pandemic experiences from the safety of their own home using a web-based social-media-style application. The goal is gather a large-scale collection of image-based short-form oral histories that can collectively demonstrate how people from throughout New York State responded to and experienced the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Responding to broad prompts, people are invited to choose or take photographs evoking what they wish to share, from their vantage," said Michael Frisch, past president of the Oral History Association and co-founder of Talking Pictures, LLC, the company behind the PixStori application. "In writing or voice, they describe what these images say and mean to them. The result can be a compact core of image, story, reflection, and insight—on their own ground, and in their own terms."

Using a computer, cell phone, or other device, participants just go to our PixStori project site (see below), upload an image from their camera roll (or select a representative image from our collection), and use their built-in mircophone record a brief oral story discussing what the image represents to them. If they don't have a microphone, they can write a story instead.

Frisch highlighted the potential of the APHNYS project and the short-form image-based oral history model, in general, during a workshop presented by the International Federation for Public History this morning.

"At its core is the notion that responses to photographs, especially self-chosen or taken, opens a natural, open-ended story-telling oral history mode," Frisch said. "People describe the photo, and 'grounded but not bounded' by the image, they often then 'take off' to broad reflections. Surprisingly meaningful in concentrated short form, these become even more so, for public history, when brought together like tiny 'tiles' in a mosaic to tell broader stories. This is easy to do because they are 'born small,' modular units easily coded, sorted, and combinable by themes-- for a community, a nation, and perhaps especially for comparative and cumulative documentation of a global pandemic touching everyone’s lives."

We encourage you to use this tool to collect stories from your community. Share the opportunity to contribute on your website and social media pages; personally invite community leaders, first responders, medical personnel, business owners, school teachers, and anyone else you can think of; and send press releases to your local media. All people need to participate is this link:


You may also wish to review the tip sheet that we've created to guide participants: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1rqicKMIh7Kl_V_Ev_g4UU8jBsunuJHXk.

Together we can ensure that we leave behind a comprehensive record of New York's COVID-19 experience from which future generations can learn!

Questions? Contact us at publichistoriansnys@gmail.com.

APHNYS is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

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