Living Refugee Archive COVID-19 Archive: Share Your Story

The University of East London has been home to the Refugee Council Archive and a growing collection of community and third-sector archival collections and oral history resources documenting the history of displacement.  Through our civic engagement and outreach work, we have also established the Living Refugee Archive as an online resource for documenting the lived experiences of displacement.  In the current global pandemic we are looking to establish an online archive documenting the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on displaced persons*. (* used here as a broad term to encompass refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants).  The situation is changing on a daily basis and we are hoping you will consider documenting your experiences for a new Archive we are creating as part of the Living Refugee Archive.

UEL Archivist Paul Dudman, “it is important we look beyond traditional forms of archival collecting if we want to ensure that we capture an archive diverse in experiences, encapsulating the realities of the impact of this pandemic.”

We are looking to establish a living archive which documents the impact of COVID-19 on displaced communities and how communities and support organisations have responded to the pandemic; we are looking to incorporate a broad plethora of material into an online, free to access archive as part of the Living Refugee Archive, (LRA).  We will be utilising Omeka, an open-source web publishing platform, which we have installed on the LRA as the basis for documenting, cataloguing and make accessible the material that we receive.

Further Details on our FAQ Page

As part of this project, we would be very interested in collecting:

  1. Personal experiences of the COVID-19 Pandemic. This could be in the form of:
    1. A written or virtual diary.
    2. A short video Vox Pop, of maybe 2-5 minutes in length.
    3. A written account documenting your experiences of lockdown for example.
  2. Local, national and international news stories documenting the impact of COVID-19 on displaced persons.
  3. Local, national and internationally produced reports responding to COVID-19, specially relating to displacement issues.
  4. Materials generated as a result of activism in support of displaced communities in response to COVID-19.
  5. Artwork and multimedia pieces responding to the issues of the pandemic and displacement.
  6. Poetry and creative writing responses.
  7. Photographs
  8. Videos and Podcasts
  9. Music and sound recordings
  10. Web Archiving
  11. Where possible, social media resources, including Twitter and Facebook materials.
  12. Ephemera, e.g. leaflets, flyers, évent descriptions, etc

Further information can also be found in our FAQ section for this project, available online here:  LRA COVID-19 Collection FAQ.

Download Submission Form via QR Code Below

We would be interested in collecting both virtual materials for the Living Refugee Archive COVID-19 Archive and also physical materials for the Refugee Council Archive at UEL.  We are happy to accept physical items for the Archive, but advise that these should be posted to us after the period of lockdown is other.

UEL Archivist Paul V. Dudman highlights that, “we need to ensure that the history we collect is inclusive, decolonised, and accessible …. a history of the people, written by the people, reflecting the impact of this global pandemic on displaced communities.”

Material for the digital archive will be included under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) Licence which is the most restrictive of the six Creative Commons licences available, which only allows for the downloading and sharing of works providing acknowledgement and credit to the host repository.  However, materials cannot be altered in any way or used commercially. 

For those of you who may be a part of an activist network, or an NGO, that may have a larger collection of materials on refugee, migration or displacement issues, or you have recently undertaken an oral history project with your local community, and are looking for advice around how to archive and preserve any materials that you have collected, please do contact us and we would be happy to work with you in terms of how what do with and how best to manage your collections. 

Paul V. Dudman, Archivist at the University of East London and Web Editor, Living Refugee Archive.  E-mail: