The Washington State History Museum is open for visitors Tuesday through Sunday, 10:00 AM-5:00 PM. All visitors ages 5 and above are required to wear masks while in the museum. Close
University of Washington and Washington State Historical Society collaboration

Pandemic Perspectives

Stories of COVID-19 from UW Public Health Students
  • Dates:
    Aug 19 - Dec 10 2021
  • Ages:
    All ages
  • Where:
    Fifth floor
  • Tickets:

    Purchase online or at the museum’s admissions desk.

  • Accessibility:

    Mobility accessible. Exterior ramps provide building access, elevators access all floors in the building, and wheelchairs are available at admissions.

An innovative collaboration between two state institutions guided Public Health students in capturing and preserving important pandemic insights for the future. Explore Pandemic Perspectives from August 19-December 10, 2021. 

Washington State Historical Society staff worked with associate teaching professor Anjulie Ganti, who has master’s degrees in public health and social work, and teaching assistant Nola Liu, a graduate student working toward a master of urban planning, at the University of Washington School of Public Health. Under the guidance of these partners, 24 students in their final year of the Public Health/Global Health major documented and preserved stories of the pandemic through oral histories, artifacts, and photovoices (images with captions that express points of view).

This unique student project provided the opportunity for Historical Society to add voices not traditionally represented to its permanent collection, thus ensuring a broader range of authentic experiences are included in the historic records.

As the inaugural exhibition related to this global health crisis, Pandemic Perspectives offers the first look into these diverse and exciting new additions to the WSHS collection. You’ll come away with a clearer, more diverse understanding of the reach and ramifications of this global crisis as it played out right here at home.

The students’ work will be added to the permanent collection at the Washington State Historical Society and preserved for generations to come.

Listen to brief clips from four of the Pandemic Perspectives oral history interviews on the WSHS YouTube channel:

Oral history clips

Read excerpts and view video clips from the students’ work at this online exhibit devoted to the stories, photographs, and audio collected as part of this project:

Pandemic Perspectives Online Exhibition
  • “The University of Washington, School of Public Health, Public Health–Global Health Major has been called upon to train a workforce ready to meet needs exacerbated by the global COVID-19 pandemic. Contemporary race relations forced the field of public health to begin reconciling how bias in research has misinformed public health practice. A person’s health is not only their current health status; rather, it is the result of their family’s health over generations."
    - Anjulie Ganti, MPH, MSW Associate Teaching Professor, Department of Health Systems and Population Health Public Health–Global Health Major University of Washington, School of Public Health
  • "Museums offer access to oral histories, exposing visitors to a collection of lived experiences, thus allowing them to identify their own biases. For those in public health, this provides the background necessary to collectively work toward improving health for all."
    - Anjulie Ganti, MPH, MSW Associate Teaching Professor, Department of Health Systems and Population Health Public Health–Global Health Major University of Washington, School of Public Health
  • “In preparation for entering the field, students were tasked with centering health equity by collecting oral histories of individual experiences going beyond statistical data. These oral histories hold the solutions for addressing each person’s unique public health needs. Our message to public health is to listen and respond by innovating beyond its current approaches.”
    - Anjulie Ganti, MPH, MSW Associate Teaching Professor, Department of Health Systems and Population Health Public Health–Global Health Major University of Washington, School of Public Health
More about the WSHS/UW School of Public Health partnership

In the winter and spring of 2021, museum professionals from the WSHS collections and education teams co-taught in a virtual classroom with a UW course instructor and teaching assistant for the capstone course for the Public Health/Global Health major. They educated students about museum collections and provided instruction about how to gather oral histories. The students implemented a public service project with the goal of capturing individual pandemic experiences, notably including the voices of people of color whose communities were disproportionately affected by COVID-19.

Each student interviewed a community member, relative, or friend, exploring their individual experiences during the ongoing global health crisis. In many cases, the interviewee also contributed a photo or an artifact representing their experience. The students then interviewed each other, contributed artifacts, and created photovoices about their experiences.

The result of this collaboration is a new collection–a legacy for this group of students–including oral histories, artifacts, photographs, and written work that speaks specifically to the individual impacts of COVID-19 in our community.

The Washington State Historical Society is grateful to the University of Washington’s School of Public Health, Anjuli Ganti, Nola Liu, the participating students, and all those who were interviewed, for the opportunity to capture these stories for future reflection and research.

More at the History Museum