COVID-19 Community Archive – marking a moment in history

A time capsule capturing West Sussex’s response to the coronavirus outbreak is being put together by the West Sussex Record Office, The Novium Museum in Chichester and Screen Archive South East.


Release date: 5 June 2020

A time capsule capturing West Sussex’s response to the coronavirus outbreak is being put together into a COVID-19 Community Archive to show future generations.

The project will see the West Sussex Record Office, The Novium Museum in Chichester and Screen Archive South East join forces to bring the archive together.

This multi-faceted collection will be accessible for future generations to show the county’s reaction, resilience and recovery during these extraordinary times.

Residents are invited to share their lockdown diaries, posters, poems, artwork, objects or videos to become part of history. Organisations and community groups are asked to share their experiences, feelings and activities and it is hoped that key workers and services will also add their stories to the archive.

Each of the partners will be responsible for collecting different materials which will form part of their collection and will be used together for future displays and exhibitions.

The responsibilities for the collection will be divided up as follows:

  • The West Sussex Record Office (run by West Sussex County Council) will be collecting all archives and digital content.
  • The Novium Museum (operated by Chichester District Council) will be responsible for the collection of artwork and objects, including 3D items from across Chichester District.
  • Screen Archive South East (part of the University of Brighton) will be taking in and preserving all films (as digital files) from across West Sussex.

Records can be made on paper, digitally, or on a phone and can be done as an individual, part of a family project within the same household, a creative outlet or simply as a daily record.

If an individual has a particular item that has kept them going through lockdown, then The Novium Museum’s social history collection would like to hear from them, as a selection of these objects will be collected and preserved for future generations.

Residents are also asked to help in collecting other material that they might come across such as:

  • leaflets, flyers or posters from councils and other organisations about the pandemic
  • material from local businesses relating to closures or changes to how they operate
  • advice from local organisations about hygiene, social distancing and self-isolation
  • information about community efforts to help vulnerable and isolated persons
  • information from local schools regarding closures, home-schooling and re-opening.

Duncan Crow, West Sussex County Council Cabinet Member for Fire and Rescue and Communities, said: “This collaboration between the West Sussex Record Office, Screen Archive South East and The Novium Museum is such a fantastic opportunity to collect a range of materials that no one group could manage on their own. By working together to get this information, we will be able to get a thorough overview of how the pandemic effected people across the county. This collection will be a fantastic and interesting resource for people to look at and explore in years to come.”

Dr Frank Gray, Director of Screen Archive South East, said: “The current crisis is bringing to us immense and unimaginable changes. This makes saving documents that chronicle through different media our changing world so important - both for now and for the future. At the Screen Archive we are interested in films that enable us to see and hear how we are living now.”

Councillor Roy Briscoe, Cabinet Member for Communities, Sport and Culture at Chichester District Council, said: “We are living through a key moment in history. Collecting objects that show what life was like during the coronavirus crisis will help to preserve those memories and allow us to tell this story for generations to come. These objects could include an item that represents your experience or characterises your community’s response to COVID-19, or artwork produced during the crisis, for example by children during their home learning.”

If people want to share any of their materials with the partnership, please get in contact with the relevant team who can provide further details:

If people wish to share films with the Screen Archive, upload instructions can be found on their website.

To find out more about the project, visit the Record Office blog

Share this

Do you have any feedback about this page?

Help us improve this website

Let us know if this page was helpful so we can make improvements. Add a star rating and leave your feedback below to show how useful you found this page.

Rate this page:
Clear star rating...
  • West Sussex County Council will only use this email address to respond to any issues raised.

Share this