Since March 2020, the Henry Madden Library Special Collection team spearheaded efforts to document the impact of COVID-19 on the Fresno State campus in real time.

The Fresno State COVID-19 Archive began shortly after the closure of the Fresno State campus in March.

Piqued by intellectual exploration at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Fresno State history professor Ethan Kytle began looking into the digitized archives in Fresno to understand how the city has tackled pandemics in the past.

“The single most important reason that I choose to do it is because I’m a historian,” Kytle said. “I tend to process contemporary events particularly the COVID-19 [pandemic]. I tend to process events through what I know and what I can learn about from the past.”

What started off as just academic curiosity slowly evolved into what Kytle called “dispatches” in which he periodically recounted the events of the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, drawing striking parallels between the past and the present.

After writing a few “dispatches” on Facebook to friends, Kytle noticed the dispatches began to gain traction amongst followers so he decided to publish his findings on a history website called Topics of Meta.

Adam Wallace, special collections and archives specialist in the Henry Madden Library, attributed the idea for the COVID-19 Archive to research conducted by Kytle on tracing the daily impact of the 1918 Spanish flu on the city of Fresno.

“That got us to thinking about the current coronavirus pandemic and what historians and other researchers might find 100 years from now, in 2120, and what they might learn about the pandemic,” Wallace said. 

Read the full story by Edward Lopez on The Collegian.