Yale University Library News

Nov. 12, Sterling Library: Students are invited to write postcards for the University Archives

overlapping postcards with images and text
November 11, 2020

What would you like future students to know about being a Yale student in 2020, post-election? 

On Thursday, Nov. 12, students are invited to stop by Sterling Library between noon and 3 pm to write their answers on a postcards that will be preserved in the Yale University Archives. Students may also choose to share any aspect of their student experience this year. More than 200 student responded to a similar invitation last month with poignant reflections on their studies, life in the residential colleges, and the impact of the coronavirus on families and friends. Students may also submit comments online via the library's Help Us Make History website

The opportunity for students to share their feelings and experiences is part of a larger effort by the library's Manuscripts and Archives department to document the student experience during the pandemic. Last month, when the library offered students a similar opportunity, students fanned out across the plaza in front of Sterling to scribble answers, packed with emotion, including poignant comments like these: 

  • “Life is miserable, my parents are unemployed, and this recession is horrible. School is hard but I think life will get better.”
  • “COVID has been really hard socially, especially in a college environment in which I used to go to parties and eat a different meal at a different dining hall with a different friend every day... The politicized environment has been really scary, and I’m scared for the future.”
  • “I miss the random small-talk before/after lecture and bumping into people on the street (and being able to see their entire face without a mask!) Yale has been keeping COVID cases very low, though, so I feel very lucky to be able to be on campus, with my friends, in person.”

As they left the October event, appreciative students scooped up giveaways of Yale Library totebags and collection-themed coloring pages—but they seemed even more grateful for the opportunity to process their experiences so far this year, including how to maintain a sense of community within the constraints of the pandemic.

“For many of us, it was a really hard decision to come back and we’ve been wondering whether our decision to be here was the right one,” one student said. “This event makes me feel like I did the right thing. It makes me feel like we’re all in this together.”

-- Tricia Carey