UWM’s Coronavirus Archives Has Accumulated Hundreds of Submissions

This has been a historic pandemic and UW-Milwaukee is documenting its impact on Milwaukee.

Four months ago, Christopher Cantwell launched the COVID-19 MKE Archive. Cantwell is a UWM history professor, who started the project to chronicle the unfolding historic moment. They collected pictures, videos, essays, anything that documents the many manifestations of COVID-19 in Milwaukee — from closed signs on restaurants and theaters to COVID memes on Instagram.

Since starting, the archive has collected more than 700 items from more than 250 contributors. From that collected material, the project published nearly two dozen exhibits and 17 oral histories.

“The majority of the items on the site reflect the moment when the world shut down this spring,” Cantwell said in a press release. “We hope to start collecting material that shows how the greater Milwaukee area has begun to reopen.

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The new phase of the project is particularly focused on how businesses and people are adjusting to new ways of operating. This includes new social distancing practices, how restaurants are safely serving diners, how people are safely socializing, and personal reflections about this time.

Contributions can be submitted on the archive site.

We’re very conscious that we’re living through a period where what was routine has been upended in sometimes subtle and oftentimes not so subtle ways,” Ann Hanlon, the head of digital collection at UWM Libraries, said in a press release. “The COVID-19 MKE Archive provides a space to document those ruptures as experienced by anyone who wants to contribute.”  



Archer is the managing editor at Milwaukee Magazine. Some say he is a great warrior and prophet, a man of boundless sight in a world gone blind, a denizen of truth and goodness, a beacon of hope shining bright in this dark world. Others say he smells like cheese.